In recent years there has been a growing campaign to recognize the citizenship of trans people in Latin America. Red Latinamericana y del Caribe de Personas Trans (REDLACTRANS), a regional network of trans activists from Latin America and the Caribbean, is one of the leaders of this effort. IGLHRC, with an office and regional director located in Argentina, works closely with REDLACTRANS. Over the past year, activists from the region organized with a diverse set of issues and actions including job training initiatives, establishment of work cooperatives and, above all, campaigning for legal recognition of gender identity. Through REDLACTRANS member organizations, this work spread in the region to Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Uruguay. In Argentina, a bill for the recognition of gender identity is currently being debated in Congress.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) together with REDLACTRANS and Heartland Alliance was able to support all these regional advocacy initiatives at the Organization of the American States (OAS). Last June these organizations held a meeting in San Salvador with trans representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama with the purpose of evaluating advocacy for the legal recognition of gender identity in the region.
Increasing Awareness of Trans People’s Issues at the Organization of American States
The OAS has an exemplary history in the recognition of gender identity of transgender people. Since the first participation of trans people in the OAS General Assembly in 2007 the agency has recognized gender identity of transgender people in credentialing and all its procedures, becoming the first organization in the world to do so. In 2008 an OAS resolution, condemned human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity “wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.
As a result of the meeting in San Salvador, we decided to advocate the Organization of American States to include gender identity in its work to achieve its human rights goal of Right to Identity. Since then, we have undertaken several initiatives to increase awareness in the system, including participating in thematic hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
There are several trans people’s organizations and human rights activists at the national and regional level leading these initiatives: Marcela Romero, the regional coordinator for REDLACTRANS, and IGLHRC regional coordinator, Marcelo Ferreyra, work side by side with representatives from countries including Gloria Mariño of Uruguay; Monica Hernandez of El Salvador; Nairobi Catillo of Dominican Republic; Venus Tejada of Panama; Belissa Andia of Peru; Marie Betancourt of Paraguay; Silvia Martines of Nicaragua; Paty Betancourt of Mexico; Claudia Spellmant of Honduras; Johana Ramirez of Guatemala; Rashell Erazo of Ecuador; Valentina Fiasco of Colombia; Bianca Vidal of Chile; Raiza Torriani of Bolivia; Liza Minnelli of Brazil and Claudia Pia Baudracco of Argentina. Each of these activists are leading the way to advancing human rights for trans people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Many others who from their grassroots efforts are very important also collaborate with IGLHRC in this work within the region: Marlene Wayar; Johana Berkins; Diana Sacayan and Mauro Cabral in Argentina; Andres Ignacio Rivera; Michell Riquelme and Franco Fuica in Chile; Mia Quetzal in Belize; Natasha Jimenez in Costa Rica; Silueta X network in Equador; Marlenne Bennedeck Dumont in Dominican Republic. There are many more who join with IGLRHC in remembrance of trans people lost to us and with respect for those who deserve and must come to share in the dignity of human rights for every one, every where.