Meet Jamie Zapata, Local Champion & Advocate
Where does one begin to tell the story of a truly inspirational person? The best way is to start at the beginning. This is the story of Jamie Zapata.
Using Jamie’s own words, “We aim to normalize the conversation so what might seem like ‘an issue’ will not be controversial anymore, thus leveling the landscape of our dialogue. This is not about beliefs. It is about acceptance. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality.”
Assigned male at birth, Jamie faced a lifetime of challenges that stemmed from prejudice and misinformation. Jamie knew from a young age that the gender she was originally assigned was incorrect. Desperation and the desire to be treated fairly caused Jamie to work with great tenacity toward building a life where she could be herself. Life took a turn in 2017, when Jamie was diagnosed with HIV. This was the catalyst that would ultimately bring her to a greater purpose.
On a mission to move forward, Jamie sold her condo and moved in with her parents to save money. In this new chapter, Jamie recalls reflecting when she helped her parents negotiate a number of deals during the home buying and selling process. Over the years, memories of D’Ann on television slowly crystalized a plan to pursue real estate. The next hurdle Jamie wanted to tackle was getting her real estate license, which required a high school diploma or equivalency. Through the services of Each One Teach One San Antonio, Jamie received the assistance needed to complete her G.E.D., which she passed on the first try.
After subsequently passing her real estate exam, the next step was to interview at Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS®. “I knew this was a place I would feel welcomed and be able to thrive if I really put all my time and effort into it,” says Jamie.
After completing training and establishing her real estate business, Jamie began to use her voice and actions to make a difference. The regret of not doing more to help others in the past faded as she stepped up and into the light. So many LGBTQ+ friends, agents, and clients shared their experiences with Jamie. The discrimination and poor treatment by neighbors, agents, brokers, lenders, title companies, and other industry representatives broke Jamie’s heart.
For the past 20 years, Jamie had excluded herself from the LGBTQ+ community as she struggled to fit into society norms. However, Jamie knew the only place she could really make an impact was in the LGBTQ+ and the HIV communities. To dispel some of the myths, She talks often about her health and living with HIV. (The virus cannot be passed by people who are on effective treatment and clinical trials for a vaccine are currently underway.)
Currently Jamie is a Community Advisory Board Member with the Pride Center San Antonio LGBTQ+ resiliency study, where they have completed the first phase of research regarding what makes society resilient such as family and employer support. She spoke on the town hall panel where Mayor Ron Nirenberg provided opening remarks. Forty-one percent of LGBTQ adults who participated in the survey experienced sexual abuse before age 18, and more than half reported at least four traumatic childhood experiences. Ten percent of respondents found it difficult to get adequate health care, a rate that rose to 40 percent for transgender people. The plan is to use the data collected to advocate for policies and resources needed to support the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition, Jamie is involved at various levels in a number of other organizations: The Pride Center San Antonio; SA LGBT Chamber of Commerce; Transgender Education Network of Texas; NAGLREP (National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals); and Queer Corazones at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
“I’ve received calls and Facebook messages from so many people and parents of kids who wish they could speak up but can’t, thanking me for doing it for them. If I can help just one person enjoy a better quality of life, then it’s all worth it to me,” says Jamie Zapata.