Things That Matter

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

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. 

Sports Illustrated Featured Valentina Sampaio As Their First Trans Model And The Images Are Stunning

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Sports Illustrated Featured Valentina Sampaio As Their First Trans Model And The Images Are Stunning

She might be listed as part of Sports Illustrated’s 2020 “rookies, but Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio is hardly one herself. In 2017, the model made waves when she became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris. With appearances on the catwalks of Victoria Secret and appearances for L’Oréal, she’s been breaking barriers ever since.

Now, three years after making her first big splash, the Brazilian model is making waves for Sports Illustrated.

Joining the likes of models such as Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Heidi Klum, Sampaio’s feature on Sports Illustrated makes for another first. As a transwoman, she became the first trans model to appear in its pages and spoke out in an open essay on what it means to be part of the brand.

“Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds. We face snickers, insults, fearful reactions and physical violations just for existing. Our options for growing up in a loving and accepting family, having a fruitful experience at school or finding dignified work are unimaginably limited and challenging,” Sampaio wrote. “I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”

Reflecting on her humble beginnings in a fishing village in northern Brazil, Sampaio explained that she intends to use her growing platform to fight for trans rights.

Writing about the beauty of her home country, Sampaio explained that its lovely visuals are darkened by a backdrop of brutal crimes against the transgender community. “I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil. Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world—three times that of the U.S,” she wrote. In a previous interview with Vogue, Sampaio highlighted that in 2019, 129 transgender people had been murdered in Brazil.

“What unites us as humans is that we all share the common desire to be accepted and loved for who we are,” Sampaio wrote in the essay. “Thank you SI for seeing and respecting me as I truly am. For understanding that more than anything, I am human. Thank you for supporting me in continuing to spread a message of love, compassion, and unity for ALL.”

Trans Advocacy Group Establishes First Spanish-Language Trans Hotline

Culture

Trans Advocacy Group Establishes First Spanish-Language Trans Hotline

translifeline / Instagram

Trans Lifeline is a hotline for the trans community that offers resources and counseling during tough times. COVID-19 has really exposed the inequalities in our communities and the world is having to react. That’s why Trans Lifeline offers the first Spanish-language trans hotline in the U.S.

Trans Lifeline has helped trans people since 2014.

For almost 6 years, Trans Lifeline has been a place for trans people to connect with other trans people for help. The hotline is for trans people and run by trans people to talk about trans issues without unneeded pressure. The hotline also understands the strained relationship between police officers and the trans community.

“The Hotline was, and still is, the only service in the country in which all operators are transgender,” reads the Trans Lifeline website. “Because of the particularly vulnerable relationship transgender people have with police, it is also the only service in the country with a policy against non-consensual active rescue.”

Trans Lifeline hired T Peña to run the Spanish-language service.

Peña was hired to be the Bilingual Hotline Services Coordinator. The genderqueer Afro-Cuban told Trans Lifeline that they would love to learn sign language to better engage with their partner and younger child, who are both on the autism spectrum. Peña’s position will be to make sure that trans people get the access they deserve to local services and Trans Lifeline can accomplish that.

Trans Lifeline recognized a need for a Spanish-language option for trans people in need.

According to a report from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, 21 percent fo adults who identify as trans are Latino. Sixteen percent of adults identifying as trans are Black. White people make up 55 percent of adults who identify as trans. The high number of trans Latinos and Latinas shows a need to have resources for our trans hermanos y hermanas.

If you are trans and speak Spanish, there is a chance for you to help.

If you are a trans person who can speak Spanish, there is a place for you to help your community. The fight for trans lives is far from over as trans women of color, particularly Black trans women face disproportionate murder and violence.

If you need help, Trans Lifeline is here for you.

The organization is here to help. With more than 98,000 calls answered and more than $500,000 in donations dispersed to help the trans community, Trans Lifeline is here to help their community.

READ: Netflix’s ‘Disclosure’ Gets Honest About The Evolution Of Trans Representation In Media