Lorena Borjas, a pioneering and much-loved advocate for the transgender and immigrant communities in New York City, died of COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, reports NY1.com. She was 60.

She helped organize one of the first transgender marches in the city and fought tirelessly for her communities, operating HIV-testing programs and syringe exchanges and fighting to change police policies toward trans people and sex workers.

“She specialized in helping transgender immigrant sex workers, who are often the target of hate crimes…who are often shunned by society. And she was their voice…someone strong and in the forefront and always helping to lift them up and raise money for them,” Jim Burke, an activist, told NY1.com.

Borjas immigrated from Mexico in 1981 in order to transition to living as a woman. She made Queens, New York, her home.

After surviving sex trafficking and abuse—and being arrested for prostitution in the 1990s—she became an advocate for others in similar situations.

Because of her past convictions, Borjas was unable to become a citizen and faced deportation. In 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pardoned her. Borjas was profiled in an inspiring segment by Queens Public Television that you can watch below.

Borjas was the founder and CEO of Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo, an intercultural collective that focuses on trans communities, which addressed the abuse and lack of representation many trans people face.

“A gigantic loss for our trans and diverse Hispanic/Latinx communities,” said Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of Hispanic Health Network, in a statement. “Lorena was a wonderful human being. She will be missed tremendously by all of us who had the chance to know her and the pioneering work she did to secure support services for our communities and addressing injustices in immigration, stigma and discrimination.”

Lorena Borjas, center, received the Fuerza Award from the Latino Commission on AIDS in 2019. Next to her are George Fesser and Daniela Simba.

Lorena Borjas, center, received the Fuerza Award from the Latino Commission on AIDS in 2019. Next to her are George Fesser and Daniela Simba.Courtesy of Latino Commission on AIDS

Last year, the Latino Commission on AIDS honored Borjas with its Fuerza Award, which honors those who have fought for HIV-related services, research and medical treatment and prevention. The same year, she was also honored by Iris House for her HIV advocacy.

In related news, Tuesday, March 31, marks International Transgender Day of Visibility. Last week, the LGBT and Broadway communities lost playwright Terrence McNally to COVID-19.

Go to poz.com/tag/coronavirus for our continuing coverage of COVID-19.