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An Interview with Venezuelan Trans Rights activist, Tamara Adrian

Sunday, March 31, 2013\nIn honour of International Day of Transgender Visibility we spoke with Tamara Adrian - Venezuelan lawyer, law professor, human rights activist and all round international trans rights superstar. She spoke about transgender visibility in international arenas, the new ’revolution’ in gender identity laws in Latin America, and some key questions facing trans communities in contemporary Venezuela.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

29th August 2013 10:14

Alessia Valenza

Tamara, I know this is available on the internet elsewhere, but could you briefly introduce yourself and your work?

Well I’m a lawyer. I have a doctorate in law from Paris university. I’m a law professor in Venezuela, in three different universities, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and the Universidad Metropolitana. I’m part of several movements in Venezuela. I have an organisation called DIVERLEX, which is the acting world trans secretariat of ILGA. I’m also part of an organisation that is close to a party of the left, Voluntad Popular, and the organisation that I have there is called Pro-Inclusión (Pro-Inclusion). As well, I am part of several other organisations in the area of women’s rights, democracy and the protection of human rights. I’m also, well, as I told you the acting world trans secretary of ILGA at the moment.

Perhaps you could start by speaking a bit about what trans rights are like in the Venezuelan context and what your experiences – as an international figurehead, if you like, for trans activism – are as well?

Okay let me change a little bit your question, if I may, and start from the international point of view, and then to the Latin American, and then to Venezuela. I think its much more useful to do it that way. The trans community was almost invisible until 2005-2006. Although in this alphabet soup we have this “T” present since the late 1990s in almost every organisation, in practice what happened was that gay – mostly gay – movements were co-opting trans movements, and deciding what the trans movement should be within their organisations – not being trans themselves. So in general, well, trans movements were co-opted and invisibilised in almost every LGBTI organisation. Many of these organisations addressed trans issues, as I told you, from the perspective of gay men at that time – and still now, as they are still running most of these organisations. At that time part of the HIV organisations were starting to take into account the specific needs of trans populations. But as with the World Health Organisation and with various Latin American organisations, trans movements were commonly considered to be MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and were therefore co-opted and invisibilised also, in the description of MSM.

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