The drama of trans people in Venezuela, without identity or rights

Any Venezuelan who is today in extreme poverty, burdened by failures in public services or receiving a salary of less than a dollar a month is in better circumstances than the collective T of the LGBTI acronym.

A lawyer from Venezuela made history in 2015 by becoming the first transsexual woman in all of America to win a seat as a deputy. A five-year later, transgender people are still without rights in this country, whose economic crisis, in addition, violates this minority in a differentiated way.

Who is transsexual in the Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro has fewer rights than other citizens. That is, any Venezuelan who is today in extreme poverty, burdened by failures in public services or earning a salary of less than a dollar a month is in better circumstances than the collective T of the LGBTI acronym.

This Tamara Adrián knows, the legislator who rose to fame five years ago and that today he believes that his presence in the Venezuelan Parliament has only brought visibility to the cause, without any progress in terms of equality before the law. “There is still no right,” he admits in an interview with Efe.

The 66-year-old activist assures that the group of transgender people constitutes “the most excluded minority from the social, cultural and educational point of view in Venezuela “, where they are not allowed to change their identity documents and it is almost impossible for them to get qualified jobs.

Adrián was added to the list of women who aspired to a seat in the 2015 elections even though his legal identity says his name is Tomás. In 2004, she filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) to get her name changed, according to her gender, and has still not received a response.

His case, he explains, is an example of the backwardness that Venezuela has experienced in this matter since 1999, when the so-called Bolivarian revolution was established. In the last 20 years of the last century there were about 150 identity recognitions in the country and so far this millennium, he stresses, none.

Under this “state transphobia”, he continues, it has been impossible to advance. For this reason, the balance that she herself makes of this five-year period is as “hopeful” as “frustrating”, since South America has made its way towards equality but Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela have lagged behind. “which does not resemble” its peers in the region.

From the National Assembly (AN, Parliament), Adrián proposed a partial reform to the Civil Registry Law with which he intended to modernize an “archaic” statute and include concepts that would allow the inclusion of LGBTI people. Nothing could be accomplished.

Precisely in the last five years, Venezuela entered its worst economic, social and political crisis, in the middle of which the Supreme Court declared that all the acts of the AN were null, including the session in which they declared a “Day against Homophobia and Transphobia “, the only time equality seemed to have won in the House.

Sam, a 45-year-old trans man, says that his request to the Venezuelan State is simple, legally recognized by gender with which he identifies himself, that the name he chose is reflected in his documents.

The simplicity of its requirement seems utopian in a country that, on the other hand, subjects him to derision every time you present your legal identification at a supermarket, bank, airport or police checkpoint.

Because of his gender identity, Sam has received more no’s than he can remember in job interviews. Although he is a publicist and worked almost 20 years in related fields, once he began his transition in 2012 could not stay in the market and since then he has done almost any trade to survive.

Another young trans man, who asked to remain anonymous, told Efe that he was arrested this year for identity theft, a crime that he was practically forced to commit to get a job in land transportation, where he presented a forced document until it was approached by agents who guard the public roads.

Examples of discrimination abound, and yet Sam thinks he’s lucky to some extent because, in addition to having the happiness of being who he really is, he says that trans women have it doubly difficult in the country, which pushes them almost exclusively into prostitution.

“These are the consequences (…) of not recognizing the identity of trans people, exposing them to this type of situation, not being able to find a decent job, not being able to study, not being able to travel, to anything else” Adrián claims.

Venezuelans, focused with all their impetus on surviving the national crisis, have not been able to “talk about the problems of the 21st century”, such as voluntary termination of pregnancy, euthanasia and LGBTI equality, or at least the deputy believes so.

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