Angel Rodriguez is 23 years old. Since she was a little kid, she has always known that she was different. Raised in a very religious Cuban household, she couldn’t say out loud that she was uncomfortable being treated as a boy, but that is how she felt.
At the time, she did not want to upset her parents.
In 2008 at nine years old, Angel was going through rough times. She was dealing with mental issues because she couldn’t be herself. Her mom noticed these changes and had a conversation with Angel.
“Do you want to look like a girl, do you want to be a girl?” her mom asked.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it is,” Rodriguez answered.
“I hated that my body was seen as masculine, I did not go to the gym to not have muscles and not look masculine,” Rodriguez said. “And I also hated [puberty] because that made me look very masculine and I did not like it. It was a trauma.”
In the midst of their own marital problems, her parents took her to therapy. It was not until 2019 that she found out in a conversation with her father the truth about this. It was so-called “conversion therapy” – which is designed to convert gay people to be straight.
“When I was little, I thought I was going to therapy for my parents’ divorce, but I found out it was conversion therapy,” says Rodriguez.
The Cutler Bay resident recently decided to tell her story to SFMN to create awareness and make this journey easier for children and people going through similar situations.
Angel Rodriguez was born in Miami in 1998, Since then, she has faced difficulties trying to
figure out who she really is and wants to be. During her early years, especially in elementary school in Kendall, she used to bully kids verbally due to her own insecurities and frustration.
“Hurt people, hurt people,” Angel said.
In 2016 Angel graduated from a high school in Kendall. The next year, she started doing drag shows. Her parents seemed to be okay with it but only outside of their house. Inside, they wanted Angel to still act and look like their son.
“My family preferred that I lived the double life because they got their son and I got to do
whatever I wanted,” she recalls.
While doing drag shows Angel was in a very dark place. She finally decided to be who she
wanted to be.
“At one point I decided to prioritize myself,” Angel said.
It seemed she was living someone else’s life.
“It felt like I was playing Sims and I was dealing with someone else’s life and someone else’s emotions and problems,’ says Rodriguez. “I was panicking thinking that I was wasting my life and happiness for other people’s happiness.”
Then in 2020 Angel finally made the decision to start on hormones. She left her house, went to live on her own and stopped communication with her parents. Her friends made her journey a lot easier. They gave her the support she needed at that moment and became her chosen family.
Rob Quintans, a model, drag queen personality and Angel’s best friend was there for her.
“Seeing Angel beaming when she took her first dose of progesterone was a highlight,” said Quinones. “Angel was slowly becoming more confident in her skin, and watching her become secure in her power has been a real treat.”
Even though Angel feels like her parents made her process harder, she can’t say anything bad about them. She is aware that they come from a different background and culture.
“It was hard for me like most teenagers to criminalize my parents and be like ‘Oh you don’t love me’” she says. “What you don’t know, you don’t know.”
Friends even contributed to help pay the costs of the surgery.
“Hormones for transsexual people are very expensive,” she said.
Now in 2022 Angel feels in a good place with herself and with all that she has accomplished.
She is happy with who she is and what she has become.
Also, she recently started communicating with her mom again. They are both trying their best to maintain and recuperate communication.
Even though Angel is currently in a good place mentally, there are still some struggles as a transgender woman. For example, Angel is rarely addressed by the correct pronouns.
Then there is the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill recently passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“I think it is really dangerous,” she said. “It could get a lot of kids killed and made homeless because not every parent is accepting.”
Finally she added a message to all members of the community and their parents.
“We don’t have to agree but we should respect each other and want each other to be happy,” she said. “If someone loves you and cares for you, they would be there for you no matter what type of person you are.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Angel’s birth and high school graduation dates as well as when she had an eating disorder. It has been updated. We apologize for the errors.