The ballad of Ágatha Mont
The National Council to Combat Discrimination and for the Promotion of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transgender (CNCD / LGBT), which is linked to the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, published on March 12, 2015 in “Diário Oficial da União” a resolution that guarantees transgender students the right to use the male or female bathroom and the type of school uniform (male or female), according to their gender identity.
The measure also applies to the use of the social name in all administrative processes of school life, such as enrollment, newsletters, attendance registration, exams and even public competitions.
The resolution does not have the force of a law, but is a recommendation for educational institutions to adopt practices to respect the rights of transgender students.
This sad story begins in October 2016.
Ágatha Mont, a 26 years old trans woman, studying for the bachelor’s degree in Arts in a São Paulo local university (Centro Universitário das Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas (FMU)), when going for the women’s bathroom, was faced with some words painted on the bathroom door saying something like this: “Respect the women’s space. Male in skirt, no”
The painting had a specific target: one of the few, if not the only, transgender student in the university.
Ágatha stated she felt violated by the message and intimidated in a space she has the right to use.
In many countries around the world, trans people have this same problem. Many people can’t understand one simple and basic thing: women are women first, if they are black, white, disabled, transgender, whatever, it’s a secondary state, what they all share is the womanhood. But, as George Orwell so brilliantly wrote (and adapting to this situation) “All women are equal. But some women are more equal than others”.
Anyway, Ágatha notified the administration but one month later no action had been taken. “Until today, that phrase is still there. And it’s still there and every time I go to the bathroom I have to read that sort of thing” she stated in an interview in November. The young woman also revealed that she had never faced a direct confrontation in college. “I always heard jokes, people saying that there was a man in the bathroom, but it had never happened like this, so direct”, she explains.
Ágatha said that when she approached the administration to report the graffiti, she was informed by some officials that the school could create a unisex bathroom. “For me that’s an even greater prejudice. This is an excuse to give me a separate bathroom and exclude myself even more from a social life”, she stated, adding “By law, I can use the ladies’ room. I do not want a separate bathroom. And because I do not identify other transgender students [in the university], I see myself as unique in this environment, only I would use that bathroom. This is an even greater form of exclusion.” Ágatha claimed to be the first transgender student in 10 years to attend Arts at FMU.
“I never had problems like this in my family, they’ve always been very supportive of me, in school I had no problems either. On the street is one thing, I’ve been through a lot of situations, but going through that in a university where teachers are formed shocks me.”
In a statement, the FMU “repudiates any kind of prejudice” and “any action that could compromise the physical and psychological integrity of its students”. The institution also guarantees that it will “ascertain the reported facts of cases of vandalism and the propagation of biased messages directed to the student”.
At the time, Agripino Magalhães, an LGBT rights activist in São Paulo, considered that gender identity should be discussed to be respected. “Education is the only way to understand sexual diversity. We do not want less or more. We will not shut up. We’re going to end the hate crime, it’s the worst crime there is”.
This happened in October 2016. In November she denounced the case to the media. In December and January nothing new came out.
In the early hours of Monday, February 6th 2017, a police patrol saw a body on Serra dos Gradaús street, in the Jardim Rosemeire neighbourhood. According to CotiaAgora website, the body was naked, lying face down, with a shirt wrapped around the purplish neck. It had also signs of a blow on the head (a bruising with swelling above the eyebrow).
An Emergency Unit was called but only to verify the death.
Ágatha Mont was dead.
Police started investigating. When the body was found, naked, with a shirt around her neck and with injuries to the face and arms (according to G1 news) police registered the case as a murder. But the death certificate from the Medical Legal Institute (IML), indicated that the cause of death was ‘myocardial insufficiency’, led the investigation to consider that the most likely is that she had a natural death.
Thus, the possibility that the university student was a murder victim “loses power”, in the words of delegate Marcos Antonio Manfrin said on Friday (10) to G1.
Marcos Antonio Manfrin was the one who told G1 last Monday that he was investigating whether the transwoman had been a victim of transphobia. The suspicion, on that occasion, was that she might have been suffocated.
“I do not rule out this hypothesis that she was killed, but I talked to the doctor who delivered the death certificate to the family to bury the student,” Manfrin explained. “He told me that the necroscopic report must follow the same line, that Ágatha died as a result of a heart attack. “
But how do police explain the student’s bloody face and arms? “We are checking, among other things, if Ágatha was thrown, already dead, from a moving car, for example,” the deputy told G1. Police is looking, but has not yet found, security cameras that may have recorded the moment that Ágatha fell to the ground.
Glaciene Oliveira, a friend of Ágatha, told G1 that she (Ágatha) worked as a sex worker in the streets of Itapevi to be able to pay for the university, and she believes Ágatha was murdered. “For me, she may have been killed by a client or even by another transgender woman, in a fight for the spot, maybe,” Glaciene said.
Her body was identified by her brother and she was buried Monday 6th.
“For me it was a murder and I think it was motivated by prejudice. I think it was a crime of transphobia because he was transsexual and had already been a victim of prejudice in the past”, said Arthur Rodrigues, Agatha’s brother, who said he did not know the information that she was a prostitute. Although Arthur calls her by the masculine gender, he said that he always respected the sexual orientation of Ágatha “He is my brother and we respected him as he wanted to be”.
Bruna Maria, a classmate, stated that “She was an incredible person. One of her dreams was to do this graduation, unfortunately she could not finish. We’ll miss her a lot in college, she was the light of the class.”
Police awaits the necroscopic report of the coroner, who must maintain the same conclusion of the death certificate to attach to the investigation into the death of Ágatha. The outcome of the drug test is also awaited to see if she has used any drugs that may have contributed to the sudden illness she had.