Tamara Adrián Venezuela’s first transgender legislator celebrates, but faces her uphill battle optimistically and realistically.
Tamara Adrián, the newly elected opposition lawmaker, is well aware that Chavistas in the National Assembly and will put up all kinds of obstacles, ideologically and personally. Adrián is the first elected out transgender person in the history of Latin America to be elected to parliament. She won her seat in this socially conservative country as a candidate with the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), a party led by the jailed political leader Leopoldo López.
In less than a month, Adrián will join the National Assembly, where for 16 years the Socialists frantically passed law after law giving broad powers to Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in the form of presidential decrees. They also modified the Constitution several times to pave the way for the two leaders to remain indefinitely in power. In one example of these positions, a group of governmental artists painted large the eyes of Chavez on the roof of the Assembly.
Tearing down this disturbing and annoying image of Chavez, and all that it means, is the priority for Adrián. For 16 years the government has controlled the flow of information through the National Assembly Television (ANTV), which transmits the meetings of the Venezuelan Parliament. This channel has become a propaganda tool of the government, while the opposition was a minority, sometimes even without any presence. Between 2005 and 2010, the opposition refused to be part of the political system established by Chavez.
“No one was watching that channel, but now it may become the best television of the country,” Adrián said in an extensive interview with the Nuevo Herald in her office, located in the area of Altamira in Caracas.
Adrián hopes people will see the legislative clashes between Chavez people and the opposition parties. What’s more, Adrián is excited about the prospect that voters will witnesses any undemocratic practices Maduro’s party could try.
The newly energized opposition, which has now a super majority in the Assembly, will try to roll back years of power accumulated by the Chavistas. In its commitment to reverse years of oppression, Adrián could become one of the most proactive legislators. During the interview, she mentioned some of the issues that she’s ready to deal with in the Assembly. Topping that list are bills to approve same-sex marriage and protect the right of LGBT Venezuelans to express their identity.
Today in Venezuela, transgender people are marginalized in society. The bureaucracy does not take into account the possibility of sex change. Regardless of the new identity, a transgender person adopts, transgender people keep the same information officially given at birth. This means that transgender people have trouble getting a bank loan and medical services. Due to the lack of social acceptance, they also face ridicule, harassment, and physical violence.
“The country is still sexist and revolution is very puritanical. Socialists believe we are degenerates with no moral, ” explains while having a coffee in the Caracas area of La Carlota Daniel, a transgender man.
Here in a mostly pro-opposition territory, Daniel felt much more comfortable and safe. During our conversation, some people came to the table to greet and hug him. But this did not distract him from what we were talking, and he continued: “Even superconservative Bolivia is more progressive in terms of LGBT rights.”
Adrián agrees. “This has to change. The LGBT community has various degrees rights, not only in Bolivia but also in Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. And Venezuela? We have no rights. “
Adrin speaks from her own experience. ´Although she is now a woman and changed her name, her identity card shows another name: Thomas Adrián. She had to run for the National Assembly as Thomas, her birth name. They simply did not recognize her as the woman she feels to be. Following the recent elections, now more complaints than ever are head about the discrimination transgender people face.
“Another day a young transgender person came to my office to congratulate me. I posted a message on Facebook about the visit and now her boss wants to fire him, “says Adrián, obviously worried.
“During the last eight months this youth has gone frequently to a hospital to plan a sex change operation to become a man. And they keep ignoring him. “
It remains to be seen if Tamara manages to win some civil rights battles on behalf of young people as the one who visited her. President Nicolás Maduro has declared he will not accept many proposals from the opposition because he believes that everything outside the revolution is hostile, dirty and false. In fact, Maduro may have yet the authority to veto most of the laws the opposition will try to pass, including bills from Adrián.
Despite her specific agenda, Adrián thinks broadly about all Venezuelans. During her campaign, she ventured into pro-Chavez areas like Las Mayas, one of the poorest areas of Caracas. To her surprise, Adrián met many people open to the idea of leaving everything behind and moving to Miami, New York or other US cities.
“One would think that migration occurs only in the middle class, but the truth is that even the poor want to leave the country,” Adrián said. And, raising her voice, she said: “We must ensure that people in Venezuela have faith again in their dreams.”
She is a living example of efforts to achieve dreams and hopes her victory will mean hope for many. “With this comes a huge responsibility. I think people that advocates equality seeks positive examples and wants achievable things. Many of us feel inferior because racists, sexists and negative people in general harass us. We can not be discouraged.”
Adrián believes that Venezuela has taken a new path free from dictators and autocrats. “Chavismo is dying. In a few years, no one will know about that. And historians will say that ‘there was a man who used propaganda, and that kind of things’. I’m sure that Hugo Chávez will be forgotten. “
Noticiero Digital.com reports that not all reactions to were positive. Some employers choose to punish, even fire their workers for showing Tamara Adrián support.
Venezuelan journalist Anamer Salazar reported that she was dismissed from the private firm where she worked for celebrating the December 6 triumph of Tamara in the parliamentary elections.
She tweeted: “I was verbally attacked today by my boss. With a Bible in his hand, he condemned me for supporting the triumph of Tamara Adrián in the assembly. During a “meeting” with the whole team, which lasted more than 1 hour, he judged everything related to homosexuality. Quoted Bible verses, pointing directly to me that supporters of any act condemned by God were “cursed”.
Salazar did not clarify the name of the company where she worked, but said her boss urged her to resign. “It seems extremely absurd that in 2015, a worker is attacked in this way for supporting homosexuality. What a disgrace” she said.
“I just got fired from my job for supporting Tamara Adrián. Amazing! Only in Venezuela “, she published hours later.
Adrián responded to Salazar tweets with: “fundamentalists intolerance has no limits, because their fanaticism deprives them of discernment and the ability to think.”