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Transgender people in Argentina advocating for the passing of the gender identity law.
“Making Rights a Reality”: The experiences of organizations of transgender people in the AIDS response

in WORLD, 23/05/2012

In Latin America, transgender people face stigma and discrimination based on their gender identity every day. Such situations limit their access to the education system, job opportunities and health services which, in turn, increase their vulnerability to HIV.

However, the commitment and mobilization power of the transgender community have achieved important political and social changes leading to a more pluralistic and democratic society based on the respect for diversity. Some of these achievements have been compiled in "Making Rights a Reality. The experiences of organizations of transgender people" launched on 17 May on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Produced by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the Latin American and Caribbean Transgender Network (REDLACTRANS) and UNAIDS, the report is a compilation of six case studies. It focuses on the efforts made by transgender organizations in Latin America to achieve an inclusive society based on respect for human rights.

“This work reflects the needs of transgender people in the Latin American context, while highlighting their leadership and how it led to significant political and institutional changes,” said Cesar Nuñez, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America. “Only through participation and leadership of transgender people in identifying strategies to protect and guarantee their human rights we can reach a world with zero discrimination,” he added.

Progress has been made in Argentina and Uruguay regarding the legal recognition of human rights of transgender people, the report highlights. In the first case, the passing of a gender identity law confirmed transgender people as full citizens in the eyes of the law. In Uruguay, through a government decree, sex work has been formalized and legalized. Now sex workers are entitled to health insurance, retirement and other benefits.

In Argentina, the transgender organization ATTTA played a key advocacy role in the recent passing of the law on gender identity. “With this law we are claiming our right to identity. We will no more be forgotten by democracy. With this law we are here to make history,” said Marcela Romero, President of ATTTA and Coordinator of REDLACTRANS.

Only through participation and leadership of transgender people in identifying strategies to protect and guarantee their human rights we can reach a world with zero discrimination Cesar Nuñez, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America.

In Honduras and Bolivia, the publication stresses the achievement of transgender people’s participation in decision-making spaces within key structures of the AIDS response such as the Country Coordination Mechanism for Global Fund grants. In addition, El Salvador and Ecuador led initiatives in the field of comprehensive health which, resulted in the development of national programmes that now meet the specific needs of transgender people.

All of these achievements have one thing in common: the leadership of transgender people to demand and defend their rights.

"This compilation is in itself a valuable tool for advocacy and will increase the knowledge about transgender issues in the region and in the world, allowing decision-makers to improve existing programmes and approaches,” said Javier Hourcade Bellocq, the Latin American and the Caribbean Regional Representative of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Mr Bellocq stressed that the leadership and participation of transgender people are essential to achieving social justice and strengthening the rule of law. “We cannot scale up universal access to HIV services if we do not have a strong regulation in place that recognizes gender identity. We need governments to ensure 'zero tolerance' to violence, abuse and crime," said Mr Bellocq.

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