Trans candidates fight for their rights in Mexico election
Fighting discrimination, challenging stereotypes and fighting for greater rights for the LGBT community, dozens of Mexican transgender candidates are seeking political empowerment in the midterm elections next month.
Lady Tacos de Canasta, an indigenous street vendor who identifies as a muxe, the third sex of the Zapotec ethnicity, is among the candidates for the election.
She was recognized after resisting police who tried to stop her from selling her tacos on the streets of Mexico City and featured in the Netflix documentary Taco Chronicles.
The 36-year-old, who hopes to win a seat in the capital’s legislature, wants to improve health services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and also ensure the protection of street vendors.
“Either you suffer under the yoke all your life or you refuse to be persecuted for who you are,” said Lady Tacos.
Lady Tacos, from the southern state of Oaxaca, will appear on the ballot under her first name of Juan Francisco Martinez as a candidate for the Equity, Freedom and Gender Party.
“I think we have already won. We have already opened that door, that’s what we wanted,” she said.
On June 6, Mexicans will elect 500 members of the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, as well as 15 state governors and about 20,000 local politicians.
Forty transgender candidates are running for the Chamber of Deputies alone.
So far, only one transgender person, Rubi Araujo, has been elected to public office in Mexico, as a city councilor in the central state of Guanajuato in 2016.
– ‘Invisible’ –
In the northwestern state of Zacatecas, Fernanda Perera, 34, of the Progressive Social Networks party, aims to become the country’s first transgender governor.
Among her political goals, she wants Mexicans to be able to change their name and gender in official documents, a right so far recognized in only 13 of the 32 states.
“We are facing marginalization and rights violations everywhere,” said the candidate, describing the situation as “invisible” to the law.
“We show that we are like any other person, that we are like any citizen,” said Perera.
The life expectancy of transgender people in Mexico is 35 years because of the violence they face, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, compared to 77 years for the general population.
Mexico is the second deadliest country for transgender people after Brazil, according to advocacy groups Letra S and Transgender Europe.
In an effort to bring about change, the National Electoral Institute calls on political parties to include indigenous, disabled and different-sex people among their candidates.
But LGBT activists complained to election officials that a party, Fuerza por Mexico, nominated 18 men as trans candidates to fill the quota in central Tlaxcala state.
“Not only did they violate the guidelines, but they also laughed at the historic debt owed to the LGBT community,” said Lucia Riojas, a lower house lawmaker.
– ‘Inevitable’ change –
Valeria Lorety, a 36-year-old stylist, said she had to fight an uphill battle to become a candidate for mayor of Zacatelco in Tlaxcala.
“It was very complicated because in other parties there was a lot of discrimination against my participation,” she said.
She ultimately succeeded with the Green Environmental Party of Mexico.
Determined to shatter stereotypes, Lorety believes that just putting her name on the ballot is an achievement.
The push for greater political empowerment reflects a trend seen elsewhere in the region, such as Ecuador, where transgender politician Diane Rodriguez was elected to the National Assembly in 2017.
In Brazil, Erika Hilton last year became the first black trans woman elected to the municipal legislature, winning the most votes of all the country’s women in the November elections.
Transgender people are beginning to occupy a place on the political spectrum that was “inevitable,” Lorety said.
“Just because we’re trans women doesn’t stop us from raising our hands,” she added.
nc-dr / ft