The transgender population in Mexico is one of the most violently affected by violence in the country. According to Transgender Europe, it is the second place in the world with the highest rate of transfeminicides, second only to Brazil. The organization Letra Ese reports that between 2013 and 2018 there were 473 murders of LGBT+ people in Mexico, of which 261 were trans women.
Regina is an advocate for the rights of trans people and especially trans women, because she considers them to be in an even more vulnerable situation within the community. Moreover, she has participated in the organization of the LGBTI march, in many cultural demonstrations and also in some documentaries in order to make visible the situation of violation of trans people’s rights. As a result of her struggle, during the last years Regina has suffered threats and aggressions.
Between 2008 and 2019, 78% of the assassinations of trans people worldwide were committed in Latin America and according to Transrespect.org’s Trans Assassinations Observatory there were 2,608. The average life expectancy of this part of the population does not exceed 35 years.
While transgender people are organizing and achieving important milestones -for example, the change of identity in some countries-, international institutions and organizations are moving at a pace: it was not until 2018 that the World Health Organization (WHO) stopped considering gender dysphoria as a mental illness.
You were a pioneer in LGTBI activism.
I was tired of the media talking about us as “gay” or “feminine” and I chose to make my case visible.
I started to explain my story when I managed to change my name on my ID card. Afterwards, I was able to get my driver’s license with my name.
Then I went to the Secretary of Public Education and the Department of Health to modify my data and now I only need the University of Law to do it. At the moment I have not succeeded and that is because it has a catholic foundational line.
Do trans women want to be invisible because?
Normally trans women want to be invisible to avoid being discriminated against, to be able to find a dignified or adequate job and, above all, not to suffer aggressions. In Mexico no one defends the victims. There have been no trans women dedicated to the defense of the trans community. It is a very recent activism, but more and more women are taking courage to come out in the public light.
After my assault they killed a trans woman and they said it was a “crime of passion”. There is no law There is no law that recognizes trans women even when they have been killed. We still have a lot to do.
How is the life of a trans person in Mexico like?
Most of the trans people who live in my town suffer a lot of discrimination. I have recently seen that some gay youtubers have posted videos explaining that living in Mexico and being part of the LGTBI community is great, but none of them are human rights defenders. If you go to the neighborhoods or villages you can see that not all trans or gay people are with them. I think that in Mexico the situation of trans and homosexual people varies a lot depending on the social class in which you live.
In the villages, moreover, a few years ago people didn’t know anything about trans people, it was an unknown reality. Now, even if you go to Mexico City, people have a lot of problems and there have been many murders, especially of homosexual men, I think.
Is it very difficult, the access to the labor market for the trans population?
Yes, people still think that because you are trans you don’t have the capacity to work well. Personally, I have tried to access to many jobs and I always received negative answers.
Moreover, many times they relate trans people with promiscuity. And it is not true, most trans people are not like that and we have the capacity to be in a good job like any other human being.
How do you think it is possible to fight stigmatization and discrimination?
By doing a lot of stigmatization work. For example, when the media made a report about the murders of trans people, they always wrote that it was “a man dressed as a woman”. There was always a discriminatory theme against the trans community. We managed, after much insistence, to get them to begin to write, with respect, their identity in the news where trans women appeared. Unfortunately, the reason for their appearance in the media was always an assault or an assassination.
What I do as an activist is to give visibility to the trans community and fight against the stigma that society has imposed on the whole community. We are classified and pigeonholed in the labor market, too, as if we could only work as prostitutes or hairdressers. I respect all trans women who work as sex workers and stylists, but I think they have stigmatized us a lot because within the trans community there are lawyers, doctors, architects, etc.
What are your main demands now?
That the prosecutor’s office investigates the murders of trans women or attempts of femicide and that there is more unity of the whole community and between trans collectives, so that we all defend our rights and denounce the violations of the authorities towards us.
When will we see mechanisms to protect trans defenders?
We will be waiting to see, but we are starting to make our way. My transgender women are eager to go out on the streets. There continues to be a lot of violence. Mexico has 32 states and that means 32 different realities. Although there are laws to guarantee, promote and respect people’s rights, there are no mechanisms for compliance and even less for protection, transparency and accountability. But we will not give up and we will continue to conquer the rights that are ours.
The current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, assured on Pride Day that the Mexican government isin favor of diversity and respect for all. What do you think? Has there been any change since the arrival of Lopez Obrador to thepresidency?
The government has not even solved the feminicides. Moreover, it has not changed the laws so that the murders of trans women become femicides. Nowadays, when trans women are killed, the murderers are tried as if they had committed a crime of passion.
López Obrador was supposed to make changes and I believe that since he became president there have been more murders, more assassinations, more disappearances, etc. against the LGBT community. Nothing has changed even though there is a new party. There are no guarantees, the president has not guaranteed anything to this community, he is more concerned about giving money to big people and giving grants to the students because he knows that the people will be in favor of him if he gives them money.
I think what he said on Pride Day was pure politics. We do have the law of gender change, but it does not guarantee almost anything. If he had a real interest in equality she would act more forcefully. Currently in Mexico there is no justice around the cases of aggressions and assassinations of trans people. Most of the cases are not solved.
Is there more discrimination and demands for trans women than for men?
Yes, because men can go more unnoticed. In fact, the transition of a trans man is much faster than that of a woman, who has been taking hormones for years and years. I have not heard of any case of murder of a trans man, but I have heard of many cases of murder of women.
Moreover, there is much more demand. Society says that to be a woman and succeed you have to have a sculptural body, but they don’t teach that there is a diversity of women’s bodies. Yet we trans women often fall into the trap of following stereotypes and end up discriminating against other women because of their body shape. Whether or not you have a vagina, there is a diversity of bodies and we cannot discriminate people for who they are.