Meet the transgender Member of parliament

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Adrian Tamara is the second trans member of a legislature in Latin America.

At an international press briefing on the state of civil society, one woman keeps on diverting reporters’ attention, engaging in constant selfies with colleagues meant to give remarks on threats facing activists.

Physically to those who are not so keen she easily passes for a man because of her physique but the hair do, lipstick, shoes, nail polish and dressing style betrays the previous gender judgment.

In fielding questions on the topic of discussion, she introduces herself as Adrian Tamara, the first transgender member of the Parliament in Venezuela and only the second trans member of a legislature in South America.

“During my earlier days in life, there was this complaint about discrimination on women at work place, home and society at large which made me think of being a female, I wanted to be in a woman’s shoes to get the exact feeling and then look at ways of addressing the whole situation,” she says.

“This is the reason why I transited to my present situation and I can confirm to you that there are several privileges that I lose often through the transition, women are still treated as second class citizen in many forums,” she says.

“I feel women are still marginalized and in our fight to achieve certain things I think some men still have the mentality that they are doing us a favor, it is against human rights spirit that has been the subject of discussions across the World,” she says.

“As the first transgender MP in Venezuelan Parliament my targets are set because I harbor a feeling that no one should be discriminated on based on their status, equality is unstoppable in the present society,” she adds.

She is the first transgender member of the Parliament in Venezuela and only the second trans member of a legislature in the whole of Latin America.

That Adrián won the seat at all is an achievement but that it happened in Venezuela is extraordinary.

Venezuela is currently facing the highest inflation in the World with the cost of living expected to hit over 300 percent.

The country whose economy heavily relies on oil and petroleum has been hit hard by the fall in the price of oil. Some 96 per cent of its export revenues are reported to come from oil.

Recently Venezuela announced it will cut the working day for public sector workers to five-and-a-half hours to conserve energy, down from eight to nine hours.

The initiative is part of a nationwide electricity rationing plan occasioned by a major drought, which has dramatically reduced water levels at its main hydroelectric dam.

In an interview with Standard, Adrian says the country is in a mess from all sectors including health where it is hard to get even aspirin in government hospitals.

The mother of three however believes that her country is not collapsing soon and says she will use her position in the Parliament to push for equality and a better economy for Venezuela.

Prior to her election to the Venezuelan legislature, Adrián worked as a lawyer and LGBT activist, including serving on the board of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and the organizing committee of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

She was forced to register her candidacy under her male birth name, as Venezuelan law does not currently permit a transgender person to legally change their name.

She says she has in her agenda the fight for equality which she says should be embraced by other countries such as Kenya where laws are still harsh on marginalized communities like the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transex community.

Kenyan law criminalizes same-sex sexual behavior with up to 14 years’ imprisonment; though the law is rarely enforced, it forces the LGBT individuals to the risk of police violence, harassment, and extortion.

Human rights reports by Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved (PEMA-Kenya) and by Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) have documented ongoing mob violence and police abuse against LGBT people across the country.

More meat

“As leaders who champion the rights of all in the society, I think it is high time we stand firm in the defense of human rights, all are equal despite their choice,”

She argues that on the economic growth, countries that are known to discriminate on her people lose a lot in tourism, trade and even brain drain.

“Many who feel unwanted because of their gender would leave for countries with friendlier laws and the exodus has an effect on economic growth especially when experts move out,” she adds.

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