In response to the death of Angela Martinez Gomez, a Muxe identity employee at a Burger King in Santa Monica, local community members of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (Familia:TQLM) rallied on Friday July 24th to demand Justice for all essential workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone across the country, and the world, but especially LGBQ+, non-binary, and third gender workers who are more likely to be underemployed, not have workplace protections, and has led to some of them losing their lives.
Angela Martinez Gomez, who was a 15 year employee of Burger King, died on July 6th 2020. Workers at the Burger King franchise report that Angela, along with other workers, wasn’t given adequate personal protective equipment (ppe) and worked while having COVID-19 symptoms.
Since Angela’s death, workers have filed a complaint with state and local authorities about the work conditions that have made them feel unsafe. Besides Burger King, local and federal governments haven’t done enough to protect all essential workers, including ensuring employers aren’t putting the safety of their workers on the line, as well as enforcing protections for workers.
Allegedly Gomez worked for a week while displaying COVID-19 symptoms before walking out on a shift, one of her colleagues, Yolanda Santiago Garcia, claimed in a complaint to OSHA and local public health agencies.
The complaint also alleges that a manager misled workers about Gómez’s cause of death, blaming it on the hormones that Gómez, a transgender woman, was taking.
Some employees of this particular Burger King also went on strike after Gomez’s death and held a vigil outside of the fast food location, holding signs that said “Say her name” and “Trans Lives Matter.” Video posted online show cars lined up outside of the restaurant as protestors socially distanced and passersby honked in support.
A community Event Organizer for Familia:TQLM Jennicet Gutierrez said, “We’re organizing this rally today because we know that our LGBTQ+, non-binary, third gender, indigenous communities are especially vulnerable during this time. All essential workers are vulnerable right now. Burger King, the local and federal governments have failed in protecting our communities. We’re concerned corporations are putting profits over the lives of our people. The government has failed in holding corporations accountable. We’re speaking out because of our concern that these communities will disproportionately be impacted by COVID-19 and it will lead to more loss of life.”
She continued by stating “One of those we’ve lost is Angela Martinez who had COVID-19 symptoms yet had to go to work at Burger King. What we know from workers is that Burger King didn’t provide personal protective equipment to all of their employees nor offered paid leave to workers like Angela who had symptoms of COVID-19 but still went in to work. As Angela’s story is covered, it’s important to highlight Angela’s Muxe identity given that vulnerability this community faces. Muxe people are a third gender, outside of the binary of just man or woman. It is a mistake to consider Muxe people as part of the trans community given that they can identify as both men and women and don’t fall into the typical binaries of the LGBTQ+ community.”
A muxe person is defined as “an individual assigned male at birth who behaves outside roles traditionally associated with masculinity. Sometimes referred to as a third gender, muxe identity pre-dates Spanish imperialism in the Zapotec region.”
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement works at local and national levels to achieve the collective liberation of trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming Latinxs through building community, organizing, advocacy, and education.