In her teens, Erika Hilton, had to prostitute herself to survive. Now, at 27, he has secured a seat on the San Pablo city council.
“Brazil is a racist, homophobic and transphobic country and I gather all that in my body and in my political platform.” The statement is made by Erika Hilton, the woman who got the most votes in the recent municipal elections and will be a councilor in the city of São Paulo, the economic capital of Brazil.
Years ago, Hilton was forced into prostitution to “survive.” But he says he turned his pain into “fuel.” Now 27, she became the first black and trans to land a seat on the San Pablo city council.
Erika was the woman who received the most votes in the entire country and entered the “top 10” of the councilors with the most votes in the first round of the municipal elections on November 15. The first nine were men.
With 50,508 supporters in the city of San Pablo, the most populated in Latin America, Hilton was the woman who received the most votes in the whole country and entered the “top 10” of the most voted councilors in the first round of the municipal elections of 15 of November. The first nine were men.
In his opinion, his victory is a consequence of the “fear” of a “setback” after the 2018 election of President Jair Bolsonaro, leader of the Brazilian far right.
“We perceive the need to organize ourselves politically to stop the setback and violence represented by the extreme right-wing political project and fascism that reached the presidency of the Republic,” said the elected councilor in an interview with the EFE agency.
The seat was achieved within the list of the progressive Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), whose candidate, Guilherme Boulos, gave the surprise in São Paulo by reaping 20% of the votes in the first round, allowing him play the second round this Sunday before the right-wing center and current mayor, Bruno Covas.
Born and raised in the impoverished suburbs of São Paulo, Hilton was kicked out of her home at age 14 by her mother, who at the time was blinded by the “fundamentalist hate narrative” of the evangelical church she frequented.
“I lived my entire adolescence prostituting myself to survive. That is the reality of trans women,” she laments.
But it was on the streets where Hilton felt the “urgency” to become the “spokesperson” for many other women who, like her, have been victims of “dehumanization”, racism and “transphobia” in a country that leads the ranking of murders of transgender people and where a young black man dies every 23 minutes.
“All that was fuel for the fight. My pain helped me to understand what structural violence is and to transform pain into strength to resist and fight. Not for me, but for everyone,” he declared.
After several years living on the streets, her mother reopened the doors of her house. It was then, with “food and shelter”, when he decided to resume his studies and enter the University. There he began his militancy “for the rescue of human rights” and rose as a “reference of struggle” in Brazil.
In 2018 she was elected regional deputy in the São Paulo Parliament thanks to a collective candidacy made up of nine women and, once her new term as councilor ends, he hopes to be able to reach the Brazilian Congress to change the “legislation and the Constitution itself”.
“My election represents a response to all that hatred and that denial of our rights. We are articulated, seeking social justice, equity and we are not going to take a step back as long as our lives do not matter, as long as they do not stop killing us for our gender identity” , he denounced.
Because, he lamented, “they kill us in the most violent and brutal ways, with cruelty, for the fact of being who we are.”
His election, he assures, is also another step in the battle against structural and institutional racism in a country with a black majority, but “deeply racist” and where 75% of homicide victims are black.