Gahela Tseneg Cari Contreras is running for Congress in Peru, but the name she has gone by her entire adult life will apparently not be on the ballot.
Instead, voters will have to cast a ballot for “Guillermo Junior” Cari Contreras. Exhibit A on why this 27-year-old indigenous trans activist wants to have her voice heard in Lima.
Despite having a long-established and vocal LGBT activist community, Peru lags behind other South American countries in terms of LGBT rights.
Neighbors Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia recognize same-sex marriage, while Peru does not, for example. The election of Gahela to the unicameral Congress is considered a longshot: there are only 28 members and hundreds of candidates. But in this case, greater visibility for the community might be seen as a victory.
Trans rights is unapologetically at the center of her campaign, but women’s issues are also close to Gahela’s heart. She has fought for visibility and justice for the nearly two hundred murders of women in 2019 and is one of a few candidates from various parties who has signed a pact to address violence against women if elected.
Gahela represents the left-wing Juntos por el Perú political party and would represent Lima and Peruvians abroad.