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Argentina’s Women’s Soccer League Could Have A Trans Player And We Can’t Celebrate Enough

It is no secret that the glass ceiling is an ever-present reality for women in all sorts of environments: in industry, entertainment and of course in professional sports. Sports is a male-centric environment and when it comes to professional leagues, womens’ teams and sports figures are seen as secondary to their hombre counterparts. Now, it is a fact that women are placed at a disadvantage when it comes to salaries and sponsorships in sports, but there is a particular group within the female population that is particularly vulnerable: trans women. Even public figures such as Hillary Clinton and J.K Rowling, who have championed women’s issues, have made unfortunate comments that can be judged as transphobic. The world is still dominated by CIS discourses and trans rights have a long way to go. 

Trans women suffer discrimination and lack of opportunities and any move forward is a significant win. That is why news coming out of Argentina give us hope in a more equal and inclusive future. The country could soon have its first trans woman professional soccer player, subject to the approval by the league. 

Mara Gomez would become the first trans woman to play in Argentina’s female soccer league.

Mara is now 22-years-old and, if approved by the AFA, the reigning body in Argentinian soccer, she will play for for Villa San Carlos, a lower-tier team in Argentina’s top league. Even if her team has not been particularly successful on the field, they have certainly triumphed in terms of their progressive politics.

When she was 15 she was figuring out her gender and sexuality, she felt bullied and alone. Until she kicked a ball and everything changed. As she revealed in Politica y Gestion, she wasn’t particularly good when she started playing but the joy for the game and perseverance helped her cross the line: “I was really bad, but I realized that it was helping me. I could escape a lot of things and it calmed my mind. Fútbol was like therapy. I began to devote more time to it. At 18, everything changed when I began transitioning. I tried out in Toronto City and they accepted me, as I am. They opened their doors and saw me as just one more player. I ended up at a lot of other teams until I got to Malvinas, which was where I was last and we became two-time league champions.”

She fully acknowledges the physical differences she will have with other female players.

In an interview for Politica y Gestion she fully acknowledged and dealt the issue of her trans identity con la cabeza en alto: “There are lots of other players who are much stronger and faster than me and they didn’t use to be male. People talk in these terms simply because medical science split us up into male and female, but we have to consider the human capacity to adapt.” You go, girl! 

The league has to approve her contract, but things are looking up.

Villa San Carlos has officially requested an approval for Mara’s contract. As reported by CE Noticias Financieras, things are looking up for Mara and her team due to three factors that will surely influence the league’s decision: “First is the fact that the front has all the studies that prove that their testosterone levels are within the limits that set regulations to compete in the female branch of the discipline. They then rely on the implementation of the Gender Identity Law, a regulation with which Argentina pioneered the guarantee of rights and which, among other issues, establishes the obligation that trans persons be treated according to their identity self-perceived gender.

Finally, there is a case of a trans player who plays in the First B of Argentine women’s football”. If they deny Mara the right to play professionally they would certainly be involved in a PR nightmare! Fingers crossed!  However, the fact that Mara has to present a hormonal analysis in order to be approved is far from ideal. 

Mexico Is The World’s Second Deadliest Country For Trans Women And These Activists Have Had Enough

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Mexico Is The World’s Second Deadliest Country For Trans Women And These Activists Have Had Enough

Homosensual / Instagram

Trans rights in Latin America are an uphill and often heroic battle. Conservative social norms and Catholicism, both of which are generally dogmatic when it comes to any sexual or gender diversity, has shaped Mexican society into a mostly CIS-gendered, patriarchy-led society. However, there are promising signs that long-lasting change could be near and that Mexican culture could shift the tide towards a legal and everyday framework in which rights are respected. 

Trans women in particular are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse and physical violence. 

Mexico is almost as dangerous as Brazil for trans women.

Credit: Homosensual

As the Associated Press reports: “Mexico has become the world’s second deadliest country after Brazil for transgender people, with 261 transgender women slain in 2013-2018, according to a recent study by the LGBTQ rights group Letra S.”

This is just appaling, as is the fact that most crimes go unpunished and that corruption in the Kaflaesque Mexican bureaucracy often leads to even more instances of abuse and trauma for the victims. The Associated Press reported late last year: “Like most crime in Mexico, nearly all such slayings go unsolved and unpunished — less than 3% of the killings of LGBTQ members have resulted in convictions since 2013. So transgender community leaders and activists are largely on their own in pursuing long-denied justice.” And remember there is no peace without justice. 

Trans activists in Mexico City shut down the city’s busiest road to protest the killing of a community member.

El Periférico is one of the busiest roads in the world. Around 20 trans activists blocked it while carrying a coffin. They were protesting the killing of Paola Buenrostro in 2016. The authorities, activists claim, have done close to nothing to solve the case. They blocked El Periférico after delivering documents to the National Human Rights Commission. As CE Noticias Financieras notes, the letter states that: “It accuses the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City (now the Prosecutor’s Office) of not recognizing the gender identity of the victim and Kenya Citlali Cuevas Fuentes, an indirect victim of the crime, as well as of discriminating them against them for being trans women and sex workers. They also noted that they failed to investigate with a gender perspective, negligence in the imputation within the initial hearing, raising evidence and chain of custody, among other misconduct.”

Paola’s friend, the aforementioned Kenya Cuevas, is leading the protest. She was there when Kenya was shot and she was close to experiencing the same fatal fate. Even though Kenya was actually there the authorities did not validate her first-hand testimony. The case turned cold and no one has been blamed for the transfeminicide.

Kenya Cuevas herself got into the coffin to stand for murdered trans and CIS women.

Sometimes the best way to fight for a cause is to be daring and doing things that can have a strong visual and symbolic impact. That is what trans rights activist Kenya Cuevas did by laying inside a coffin in broad daylight. It was a brutal image to remember. Paola’s legacy also lives on through a house for trans women in need set up under her name: this house helps trans women escape drugs and sex work that they might not want to engage in for any other reason other than survival. Kenya’s message while blocking El Peri (as the freeway is commonly known) was clear: “We are tired of being unseen, tired of being violent, tired of not being given us opportunities to succeed, we also support our families. We too are awaited by our relatives and no one cares”. We hear you, reinas hermosas! 

The protest was successful and the women were granted a meeting with the Attorney’s office in Mexico City.

Credit: Homosensual

The protest only lasted ten minutes, but in a road as busy as El Periférico that feels like an eternity. Things got tense between drivers and activists. The police arrived and escorted the trans women to meet with Mexico City’s Attorney General Ernestina Godoy. If we measure activism by the success of their actions in terms of real political change, which can amount to having your voice heard, then we can argue that these trans women made a breakthrough that would probably not have been made without altering the public order.

And that’s what some people, mainly dudes but also some CIS women, do not understand: that trans women and feminists have to resort to methods that might be deemed as extreme, such as painting public monuments and stopping traffic. In the case of Paola’s murder, almost four years went by without the authorities being able or willing to have any developments on the case. Without becoming a real threat and momentarily disrupting traffic flow in Mexico City’s main artery, perhaps they would have never been heard. 

Authorities In Bolivia Have Issued An Arrest Warrant For Former Bolivia President Evo Morales

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Authorities In Bolivia Have Issued An Arrest Warrant For Former Bolivia President Evo Morales

@ians_india / Twitter

A month ago, former Bolivia president Evo Morales was all smiles as he left for Mexico. The former leader sought refuge in Mexico after officials said he rigged the election. Morales resigned and fled, but things were looking up for him, at least in Mexico, where he was free and not being arrested for fraud. But his issues are far from over. 

Former Bolivia president Evo Morales left Mexico (where he first fled to) and is now in Argentina, but prosecutors back home in Bolivia have issued a warrant for his arrest. And the charges are pretty serious. 

Several news reports say that Interior Minister Arturo Murillo is charging Morales with allegations that “he promoted violent clashes that led to 35 deaths during disturbances before and after he left office.” The charges include sedition and terrorism, according to The Guardian. 

To explain it in terms that fit our world, the situation for Morales is something like this: If for example Trump resigns from his office and he tells his supporters to raise hell (you can imagine what he would say), and he incited violence that resulted in people’s death. He could be at fault for other people’s actions. So, the charges against Morales are quite possible.

Morales apparently says the charges are a setup, and that he has a right to return to Bolivia. 

Morales is seeking to return to Bolivia, but with this warrant, it may be impossible for him to return and get back to his life as usual. According to Democracy Now, in regards to the charges, Morales said, “They need to let me enter Bolivia. I’m not a candidate, I won’t be a candidate in these elections, but I have a right to participate in politics like any politician.”

For a quick refresher, Morales had been the president of Bolivia since 2006 until this year. He’s been accused of dictatorship, and before the last election was called, he stopped voting from being completed. People protested and Morales was eventually ousted and he fled the country. 

Jim Shultz, Founder and Executive Director of the Democracy Center, who’s lived in Bolivia and understands the situation there, wrote, “One was what seemed like Morales’ desire to serve as President for Life. When his political party, MAS, wrote a new constitution in 2009, they lifted the long-standing one-term limit on presidents and paved the way for Evo to run for a second term. In 2014 he broke a long-standing pledge not to seek a third term, claiming that his first term didn’t count because it was served under the old constitution. He won once more.”

The main issue here is not just the division of the people, but the corruption of the government. 

He also has strong allies both in Mexico and now in his new temporary home in Argentina — not to mention his supporters in Bolivia. 

When Morales first left Bolivia after he was ousted from office when officials said he illegally took the presidential office, again, Morales called foul against Bolivia authorities. Back in November, he tweeted, “I denounce to the world and the Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he is instructed to execute an illegal arrest warrant against me; likewise, violent groups assaulted my home. A coup destroys the rule of law.” He added, “After looting and trying to set fire to my house in Villa Victoria, vandalism groups of the Mesa and Camacho coup docked my home in the Magisterio neighborhood of Cochabamba. I am very grateful to my neighbors, who stopped those raids. A coup destroys peace.”

And he’s supporters got angry. They did everything in their power to force authorities to return Morales and reinstate him as president. Some of his supporters demanded his return by arming themselves and blocking roads leaving people on both sides unable to cross. 

“If they don’t comply [with our demands], not a single product will reach the city of La Paz. I’m really sorry but this is the decision,” Martin Cornejo, a local organizer said, according to the Guardian. “The people will not rest until Evo Morales Ayma returns.”

Whether Morales returns or not, the former leader is quite active on Twitter and is keeping everyone abreast of his ongoing in Argentina and his plan of action. 

Even though Morales is another country he is very much intuned with what is going on in Bolivia. The road of communication is wide open. This week he tweeted about what was going on back home, including how his supporters are being treated. “The young Carlos Cornejo, Leonel Jurado, and Andrea Mamani were illegally arrested, accused of sedition for pasting posters for an act of solidarity with Senkata victims. Before they had organized a carnival. Even the most innocent act is sedition for the coup plotters.”

Time will only tell if he returns to Bolivia and turns himself in. Something tells us it won’t be that easy. 

READ: Mexico Grants Bolivia’s Former President Asylum Allowing Him To Flee Growing Unrest