Editor’s note: Visibles, a Guatemalan LGBTI website and advocacy group, originally published this article.
(WB) Guatemalan Congresswoman Sandra Moran on Dec. 1 introduced a bill to recognize the right to gender identity and allow for transgender people to amend their birth certificates to coincide with their self-identification. The bill was presented with support from trans organizations, which had worked on initial drafts since 2009.
As the Congress’ 2017 session will finish in the coming days, activists expect to mobilize support for initiative. They expect the debate on it will begin in 2018.
In a speech outside of Congress, Moran said the mere introduction of the bill is a “recognition to the brave colleagues who live their lives just as they are, even if this means facing strong discrimination.” Activist Stacy Velásquez, who works with OTRANS, dedicated the bill to the victims of transphobia and violence.
While data on the LGBTI population in Guatemala is scarce, a 2015 study estimates that more than 15,000 trans people live in Guatemala. Of these, around 61 percent reported income below the minimum wage, and roughly 53 percent did not finish primary school due to exclusion from the educational system. Between 15 and 20 trans people are killed every year.
“The bill is a step in the right direction,” explains Tristán López, advocacy coordinator for Transformación, an organization for trans men, and the LGBT advocacy group Visibles. “But it is only the first step to adapt a system that does not understand and does not recognize the trans population.”
Should the bill pass in Congress, “the big step would be to stop being migrants in our own country,” Velásquez explained. It also paves the way for trans Guatemalans to access more rights because it instructs the appropriate dependencies to adopt measures to guarantee the right of trans people to decent work, housing and education.
— Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.