ABC7 News Reporter Luz Pena shares the story of a San Francisco makeup artist who fled South America 28 years ago to transition in the U.S.
"I am Brendissyma and I'm living my life being true to myself," said Brendissyma Carcamo.
Words that when she was 25-years-old, she only dreamed of saying out loud. To get here, she sacrificed everything, and fled Peru searching for asylum as a transgender woman in the U.S.
"I was leaving the house, my mom started to cry and scream 'please don't go, please done go.' I didn't pay attention and I kept walking while my mom continued to scream to me 'please don't go' and that is the last thing I remember from my mom telling me not to come," said Carcamo.
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Brendissyma remembers fearing for her life when police officers harassed her, as well as dealing with her family trying to change her.
"They put me on psychology and psychiatrist treatments for four years," said Carcamo. "They took me to the psychologist twice a month to change me. They only thought I was gay. I never shared with them since I saw that they were not open about it. I never wanted to tell them that I felt as a woman and I wanted to be a woman."
Today her mom is proud of her, but due to a complicated asylum case Brendissyma is unable to go back home.
"It was just so hard and it's been 28 years since I can't have my mother," said Carcamo. "I gave up so much to be able to be who I am now. That's is why I try to honor and celebrate who I am for her and try to be the best I can for her."
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She spoke of her coming out experience to her family in Peru.
"I printed 5 by 7 (photos) and I brought frames," said Carcamo. "I sent it to all the members of my family; to my grandmother, to my mother, my aunties so that they didn't have an excuse to hide it. They were framed already and that is the way I let them know that I was Brendysima."
She says her feelings about it now show such a difference.
"Oh my God, I feel accomplished," said Carcamo. "I feel like I'm living the life that I always wanted to live, free to be myself."
You can see that freedom reflected in her work. She's a makeup artist for Sephora, making others feel something she once struggled to feel in her 20's.
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"I empower them to look beautiful and to make them feel like they can conquer the world," said Carcamo.
She told the origin story of the name Brendissyma.
"My friends were coming to my place to pick me up and I was in my mini skirt and at that time I was younger, you know," said Carcamo. "I was showing some leg and it was different. One of my gay friends, I remember he saw me all glammed up and said 'you are not Brenda you are Brendissyma'" and added, "The biggest. You are not Brenda. You are bigger than Brenda. Brenda doesn't suit you. You are bigger than Brenda. Brendissyma."
She has a message to those struggling.
"It is not an easy decision and is not an easy road," she said. "You need to be brave. You need to be brave and never give up. You will be happy."
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