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Take Action: Protest the Violence Against Transgender People in Venezuela

June 16, 2009

Despite recent political advances for LGBT people in Venezuela, such as an LGBT rights bill that was considered by the country’s National Assembly back in March, violence against transgender people in Venezuela is on the rise.

From BBC News:

“We have seen a definite increase in violence against transsexuals this year,” says Estrella Cerezo, a founding member of the Venezuelan transgender rights group Transvenus.

“We’ve registered over 20 murders of transsexual people in Venezuela so far this year, which is more than twice the number seen in the second half of last year,” says Ms Cerezo, who is a transsexual hairdresser in one of the rougher neighbourhoods of Caracas, Flores de Catia.

Ms. Cerezo continues, adding that this number only accounts for the number of reported incidents; violence against transgender people, particularly transgender sex workers, often goes unreported, due to lack of police cooperation.

The situation for trans women, given that they are victims of both transphobia and transmisogyny, is particularly difficult. As Helen G. of Bird of Paradox explains:

This is a hugely important point and is, I’m sorry to say, an all-too-common experience for too many trans women across the world. We are systemically excluded from legal protections, we are demonised, marginalised and invisibilised to the point that for many sex work is the only realistic option to raise the money, not only to pay the rent and grocery bills, but also to pay for the various medical services we need. Although it’s something of a truism that many of us transition, not as a “lifestyle choice” but as a matter of survival, the corollorary for too many of us is that it’s a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” – and Ms Cerezo’s own experience seems to back that up.

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) reports that four transwomen have been murdered in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, in the past six months. Most recently, on May 7, 27-year-old Xiomara Duran was shot six times by an unknown perpetrator and died the next day. Like the other recent murders of trans women in Caracas (another in May, one in March, and one in November), Xiomara Duran’s murder was not investigated or prosecuted.

Even when there are advances for lesbian and gay communities in countries where such progress is rare, advances for trans people — and trans women in particular — are few and far between. Trans women do not just face discrimination based on their trans identities — they also face added discrimination because they are women. We see this transmisogyny everywhere, including the United States, but rarely does it receive the attention it deserves. And rarely do governments investigate and bring these incidents to justice.

Let us support the trans community of Venezuela and make sure that President Chavez and his government no longer ignores this continued violene against trans people. To write a letter to the Venezuelan government, demanding that these cases be investigated more thoroughly, and to show your support for Venezuela’s transgender community, visit IGLHRC and take action.

One Comment
  1. June 24, 2009 4:32 am

    Women have been subjected to violence throughout history, and although this horrendous action is condemned by all societies, it is still prevalent in many, especially the third world countries. In a survey carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005, out of the ten counties surveyed, more than 50 percent of women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Tanzania reported having been subjected to physical or sexual violence by intimate partners, with figures reaching a staggering 71 percent in rural Ethiopia. Only in Japan, less than 20 percent of women report incidents of domestic violence.

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