The deadly danger of being trans in Latin America
BOGOTÁ – On September 26, Honduran transgender rights activist Tatiana García was stabbed to death in her home in Santa Rosa de Copán, in the west of the country. The targeted murder also put a tragic end to García’s work to help LGBTQ + people file hate crime complaints in Honduras.
In a region with a long history of LGBTQ + violence, Honduras is one of the most dangerous places in Latin America to be gay, lesbian, or trans. In June, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Honduran state responsible for the 2009 death of trans activist Vicky Hernandez. The court ordered the country to carry out a public act of acknowledgment of responsibility and adopt a procedure for recognizing gender identity in identity documents, as well as other measures to defend LGBTQ + rights.
Instead, in his first speech after the court’s conviction, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández called those who defend the right to abortion and the rights of the LGBTQ + community as enemies of independence. He warned of the danger of “wanting to install in schools … anti-value concepts such as gender ideology, which seeks to ignore how God brings a boy and a girl into the world.”
Honoring transphobia in Honduras
Sin Violencia, a network that documents violence against LGBTQ + communities in 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, launched its report “Deciphering Violence in Times of Quarantine” in June, quantifying and comparing homicides against lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex. in the region, in 2019 and 2020.
Honduras was reported to be one of three countries, along with Mexico and Colombia, where violence against LGBTQ + people increased in the pandemic year of 2020 compared to 2019. Since the murder of Vicky Hernández in 2009, 390 LGBTQ + people died in Central America. country, according to Cattrachas Organization, a human rights group that documents statistics of violence against LGBTQ + people and monitors the media on these topics.
Violence against LGBTQ + people continues to be a constant in Latin America.
La Prensa, one of the biggest newspapers in Honduras, reported on Tatiana García’s assassination in a way Cattrachas called “journalism complicit in transphobia”. The articles included putting quotes around her name and using her old name to refer to her as a man.
“They started talking about a man, and Tatiana was not a man, she was a trans woman, an activist and a warrior,” said Candance Chávez, a Mexican trans activist who decided to flee the country. Latin America after suffering several violent attacks. “It is terrible that even in our own death, we are invisible.”
Marlon Acuña, the regional coordinator of Sin Violencia, spoke to Worldcrunch about the importance of journalism for diversity. “Learning to differentiate terms and to use assertive and dignified, distinctive and precise languages will be a tool for recording cases.”
Candance Chávez protesting against women’s strike in London in 2020
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra
The pandemic effect on regional figures
Acuña said the organization’s recent report confirms that violence against LGBTQ + people continues to be a constant in Latin America and has been made worse by the pandemic. Researchers found that extended periods of lockdown created isolation and public attention shifted to maintaining health measures, while a slight increase was recorded in the use of handguns. fire in prejudice-based violence during the period.
Sin Violencia found that at least 1,949 LGBTQ + people were killed in Latin America and the Caribbean from 2014 to 2020. In the past two years, 689 LGBTQ + people have been killed, including 238 trans women, across 11 countries. covered by the study.
Transfeminine or transmasculine are important distinctions.
Acuña said it is important to work with authorities to better categorize those targeted: “It is a problem to find homicide data records that do not identify whether the victim was a transfeminine, transmasculine, which are important distinctions in classifying the case. ”
Migrate to escape violence
Candance Chávez, like Tatiana García in Honduras, has worked in her native Mexico to advocate for the rights of trans people. But she, too, has repeatedly been a target. In the most recent attack, she suffered a permanent knee injury and ultimately decided to leave the country and emigrate to Britain. “The last attack was just for walking down the street,” she recalls. “From episodes like this you realize how exposed you are.”
Chávez is now planning workshops for healthcare professionals on how to provide medical care to trans people. She also wants to create a consultancy firm to guide potential trans women through a healthy transition.
She describes the energy that activism gives her. “It is this revolution that makes me believe, in order to transform all this fear, this pain, this anguish and this suffering for my sisters, into the strength to stand up.” The only regret, however, is that for now being an activist must be limited to the county that adopted her on another continent. Back in Latin America, it’s just too dangerous.
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