Diana’s Story of Hope

I was born in El Salvador in 1998. My mom called me “mi princepito,” “my little prince.” When I was eleven, she passed away so my aunt and uncle took me in. With five other children, there were too many mouths to feed.

To help, I got a job at a women’s store. From this pain came a small gift—at the store I could be myself. I left home in boy’s clothes and changed to girl’s clothes at work.

In school, I got beat up a lot and the teachers wouldn’t help me. When I got harassed in public, no one came to my aid. My aunt and uncle were ashamed and kicked me out. I think many people hated me.

One day, I met a man who seemed very nice. He told me he could help with a free room and to come to his apartment. When we arrived, he locked me inside to do something terrible. I fought him and escaped. On the street I ran to the police, crying. Instead of help, they beat me unconscious. I woke up in the hospital. The nurse called me “asqueroso,” “disgusting.” There was nowhere safe for me in El Salvador.

When I got to the U.S., I stayed in a shelter. This was not a good life but the staff were kind. The case manager told me about CST. She said CST could help navigate the U.S.

When I came to CST, I met my counselor. I can still see her eyes of love. She let me choose beautiful clothes from the CST closet. We started meeting every week. For the first time, someone understood my pain and really cared for me. My counselor helped me find an apartment and a job at a restaurant. She helped me find safe places to make friends. She even helped me find a doctor who cares for transgender people.

With my counselor’s guidance, I enrolled in community college to learn website design. Weekly counseling, Stress Management Group, the free meal program, English tutoring—they all help me manage difficult times and set goals for a better life. I am accomplishing more than I could have imagined and I am proud of how far I’ve come. I can’t change the past, but I can make a new future. Thank you, CST, for giving me resources and hope.