SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio's LGBTQ Advisory Committee is working toward improving the quality of life for members of the local LGBTQ community.
The committee has already held two meetings during Pride Month. The committee is made up of 15 members with different backgrounds in law, counseling or advocacy.
Erick Macias is a member on the committee and an advocate for the transgender community. He also founded the support group Men in Transition San Antonio.
Macias' journey to becoming the man he always knew himself to be started after he confronted his emotions while at a water park.
"I was sitting in the wave pool and looking at everyone walking around, and it was like I was envious. It's time for me to be who I am. You internally can affirm who you are, but it's another thing to vocalize who you are," Macias said.
Macias soon changed his name and began hormone therapy. Then came the surgery, but Macias still faced challenges. His license said male, but his birth certificate still said female.
"I remember there was one instance -- I went to traffic court. They looked at my license and, after talking to the person to see what I was going to do, they made it a point to call me Ms. Macias in front of the whole courtroom," Macias said.
He did not know he could get his gender marker officially changed to read male on all of his documents.
"My attorney didn't know I could change my gender marker as well," Macias said.
He only learned about the option through a friend in the transgender community.
With letters from behavior health specialists, Macias was able to get his gender marker changed. He said he chose to go to Travis County to get the legal matter fixed, because Bexar County had more obstacles in place when it came to changing someone's gender marker.
Macias said gathering information through word of mouth is common within the transgender community. The information shared can help others in legal matters and can also help transgender people avoid discrimination when it comes to health care.
"Within the community, we have two provider lists -- ones that you go to and ones that you don't go to," Macias said.
He said the lists are not shared with the public, since providers may fear that someone will retaliate against them.
Macias hopes to bring issues such as discrimination, violence and other obstacles to light while he is a part of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee for San Antonio. He wants to make sure the city recognizes that the transgender community exists.
The World Health Organization is taking a step in recognizing the transgender community. It announced it will no longer classify transgender people as mentally ill.
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