7 facts you should know about the situation of transmasculine and non-binary peoples in the Andean region

Six human rights defenders from the region shared information in the International Conversation, “Identity, Our Right,” held in the framework of the 52nd OAS General Assembly in Lima Washington, D.C. October 18, 2022. – No person can lead a dignified life without an identity document that allows them to have access to their fundamental rights […]

Six human rights defenders from the region shared information in the International Conversation, “Identity, Our Right,” held in the framework of the 52nd OAS General Assembly in Lima

Washington, D.C. October 18, 2022. – No person can lead a dignified life without an identity document that allows them to have access to their fundamental rights and that truly represents them. In Peru, transmasculine and non-binary persons must go through costly, long, and uncertain judicial processes to achieve the modification of their names and/or sex in their identification documents (DNI). In other States of the region, despite having regulations, there are still difficulties that create vulnerabilities and violence towards people of diverse gender.

In the framework of the 52nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) “Together against Inequality and Discrimination,” held from October 5 to 7 in Lima, The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality), Fraternidad Trans Masculina Perú, and Fuerza No Binarie held the International Conversation of Transmasculinities and Non-Binary Persons: “Identity, Our Right.”

It was a hybrid event, (watch the complete conversation here) and representatives and activists of organizations from countries in the southern region such as Mateo Rodrigo Solares, of Hombres Trans Diversos from Bolivia; Michael Gabriel De Prada Padillar, of Fraternidad Trans Masculina from Ecuador; Gaby Van, of Liga Transmasculina Joao W. Nery from Brazil; Kit Huayas Bernabé, of Fuerza No Binarie from Peru;  and Fhran Medina, a Peruvian legal advisor specializing in the right to identity, participated from Peru. In addition, the conversation was led by Bruno Montenegro, The Coordinator of Fraternidad Trans Masculina Perú.

Kit Huayas Bernabé, non-binary person of Fuerza No Binarie organization.

For an hour and a half, six human rights defenders from the region shared information on the various legal frameworks in their countries, and their experiences in the fight against institutional and social barriers due to their gender identity. Here is a summary of seven main ideas from the conversation:

  1. The law is not enough. Although in countries like Bolivia and Ecuador where there is a gender identity law, this does not guarantee comprehensive protection for transmasculine and non-binary people. In Bolivia, only trans people have the ‘gender’ field on their identification card, while cisgender people keep the ‘sex’ category on their documents. Consequently, this differentiation that is made with the gender identity law ends up exposing trans people to situations of vulnerability.

2. Changing the sex identifier does not have a standard procedure. In Peru, the only way to change the ‘sex’ identifier on the identity card is through a judicial process that is costly, long, and re-victimizing. In addition, the courts at the national level do not have a standard procedure for this, so some judges require psychological and psychiatric certificates, and medical evidence to prove any surgery on the body to validate the change of sex data.

3. Gender identity is not binary. The two gender identity bills that exist in Peru only consider transsexual and transmasculine people, but do not include nor name non-binary persons.

4. Transmasculine people abort. Even if the right to abortion is a controversial issue in many Latin American countries, in countries where it is legal, no legislation mentions the capacity and desire of transmasculine and non-binary bodies to gestate. It is often thought that there is no possibility of requiring abortion once it has been decided to transition to masculinity or neutrality.

From right to left: Bruno Montenegro, Mateo Rodrigo Solares, Gabriel de Prada Padilla, Kit Huaynas Bernabé, Fhran Medina y Gaby Van.

5. Medicine continues to stigmatize trans people. From the field of health, trans and non-binary people are catalogued with pathological diagnoses. There are very few health professionals who do not intend to make trans people “normal,” that is, heterosexual cisgender. In the case of Brazil, despite holding an ordinance that allows the process of trans sexualization through the Unified Health System, only in a few states are hormones provided, and they do not respect the identity nor presence of trans peoples in health spaces.

6. Discrimination against transmasculine people affects their children as well. In countries where there is a gender identity law, there are still legal battles against the Civil Registry, since there are no procedures that recognize children of transmasculine parents and their right to the family.

7. Transmasculine and non-binary gender people also experience other forms of violence. When talking about the non-normative gender population, it is important to emphasize which body is being talked about. In Brazil, every 23 minutes a black person is murdered; Brazil is where trans people are killed the most and it is the fifth highest country where transmasculine people commit suicide. Creating visibility around these intersectionalities and the degree of violence to which transmasculine and gender non-binary people are exposed is crucial to improving their conditions.

The event culminated with the intervention of Fhran Medina, who recommended the consumption of academic production carried out by trans researchers from the region; the first is “Bodies and resistance that transgress the pandemic” by Race and Equality, and the second is “Men don’t cry: Prejudices about transmasculine identities in the Andean Region” by the GAAT Foundation.

It should be noted that in both Peru and Brazil, Race and Equality has been supporting trans and non-binary persons in their legal processes of name change for their identification documents. In 2021, Fraternidad Trans Masculina Perú received more than 70 requests of trans people for name changes. In 2022, with the support of Race and Equality, 16 cases of name changes for trans people in a state of vulnerability will be processed free of charge. Likewise, in Brazil, more than 100 trans people will be renamed, in alliance with the organization Grupo Pela VIDDA.

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