Health, Human Rights and Citizenship during the Transgender Day in Porto Alegre

Ângela Pires Pinto
on Mon, February 3, 2014 at 10.47 am
Ângela Pires Pinto

During the National Day of Transgender Visibility: a task force to change the civil registry (legal name), HIV/AIDS prevention, sensitization of health professionals and a photographic exhibition were supported by UNDP Brazil.

Inauguração da exposição Trans[ver] em Porto Alegre
The photographer Fabio Rebelo (center) with models and organizers of the TRANS[VER] exhibition. Picture: Daniel de Castro/UNDP Brazil


January 29th 2014
UNDP Brazil

After receiving the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre was also the venue of three days of events, initiatives and actions as part of the Week of Transgender Visibility. The activities are the result of a partnership between the Municipal Health Department (MHD), the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) in Brazil and the NGO Igualdade RS - Equality Association of Transgender People at Rio Grande do Sul.
"Those three days were very very important and emblematic for our movement. Hopefully by 2015 we may have tripled and these actions may have a population of transvestites and transsexuals more socially embedded, with more guaranteed rights, better quality of life and less transphobia in Brazil", said Keila Simpson, winner of the 2013 Human rights Award in the category Guaranteeing the Rights of LGBT People".
Earlier this week (27/01), visits and educational interventions were undertaken in recognized places of Porto Alegre where transgender people engage in sex work, with the distribution of inputs such as condoms. "This is an activity that we do every week here in Porto Alegre, with support from the Department of Health provide support, talk, distribute material, and, somehow promote self-esteem and citizenship of transgender people," says Marcelly Malta, President of the NGO Equality RS.
"Taking the opportunity of the celebrations of the Transgender Visibility Week, our activity had a special tone because we relied on the presence of other activists, we could welcome partners from other cities and states, they could also walk with us through the key points for transgender sex work and share this experience in such important week."
Another focus of the activities was to combat discrimination and the difficulty transgender people have to access basic services such as health. In this sense, pilot interventions were made in the Family Health Units (USF) located on the outskirts of Porto Alegre. The action was called "Trans Dialogues" with the theme "Ensuring Access - Attention to Diversity." 
In the first part of this activity, actress Evelyn Ligock simulated real-world situations about the local community and health facilities, provoking reactions and questions from employees who participated in the intervention. Then everyone gathered for discussions, clarifications and a time for questions and answers with leaders of the transgender movement, who were invited to attend the workshop. 
January 29th – National Day of Transgender Visibility
Despite the intense heat that gripped Porto Alegre in recent weeks, the first activity that took place on Wednesday (29/01) started around noon at the Democratic Corner - official point of popular demonstrations in the city center.  
The initiative brought together partners and transgender activists for distributing informational materials to the general public and to sensitize everyone to the topics of greatest importance to the cause, as the name change, access to public services (as health), access to the labor market and education. 
"Come and join us in this mobilization. Above all, our fight is for something even more basic and essential: respect. We're not asking for anything beyond that, "said the activist of the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (ANTRA), Fernanda Benvenutti, João Pessoa (PB) during the interventions made on the evening.
By midafternoon, the group participated in a debate about changing the civil registry (legal name), made between authorities, experts and activists, with the mediation of attorney SAJU / UFRGS (Office of the Legal Service of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul) and militant RS Equality, Luisa Helena Stern. Then the group walked to the Central Forum of Porto Alegre for filing, a joint effort, individual requests for change of legal name. 
"In one year of work [2013], we had a total of 30 cases with a decision favorable to the rectification of civil registry and now, in 2014, on the 29th, we filed more than 12 claims. And about ten others are already in the waiting list to give input in March", said Luisa, who recently underwent a sex change surgery. "In the first joint effort we did, we had stayed up surprises with favorable judgments for almost all processes within a week. Generally such a process takes at least three to four months", she says. 
 In parallel to the process of change of the official identity card (RG), some states now offer an identity card that includes the social name for transgender people: Rio Grande do Sul, Pará and Rio de Janeiro. To be submitted along with the RG, the social name identity card has helped prevent, in most cases, situations of embarrassment in public as in health facilities.
Trans[ver] Exhibition
The celebrations of the Day of Transgender Visibility in Porto Alegre end early at 7pm with the inauguration of the Photographic Exhibition TRANS [VER], by photographer Fabio Rebelo. In this project, the photographer portrays transgender people that call us to shift our look due to their body modifications, clothes, posture, revealing other ways of being, and showing that they are people who also deserve to be regarded with respect. 
"Art is the best weapon and response to the barbarity of violence that trans people are suffering, along with discrimination and prejudice," said Arnaud Peral, deputy resident representative of UNDP, during the opening ceremony of the exhibition. "This exhibition is a call to reflect on the beauty of each one and beauty of humanity." 
The exhibition will be available in the Pinacoteca AJURIS (Association of Judges of Rio Grande do Sul) until March 21. The expectation of the organizers and partners is that exposure can be expanded and brought to other state capitals throughout 2014.
"When we agreed that the photos would be taken​​, there was a great interest and demand of models. Some of the photos could not be included in this first step by a logistics issue, but we hope to include them in the next exhibition", Rebelo said.
"Aids Tche" initiative

UNDP's support to these initiatives happens within the Tchê AIDS initiative, developed in conjunction with the Thematic Group of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS), under the Integrated Work Plan for the city of Porto Alegre. Also, it is integrated to the global project "Urban Health and Justice Initiative" that is undertaken in 25 cities around the world. 
The capital of Rio Grande do Sul ranks first in the country in numbers of incident cases of HIV / AIDS ( 99.8 / 100,000 , while the national average is 17.9) . A recent study from the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre and the Institute of Psychology, UFRGS indicates that seroprevalence among transgender women in Porto Alegre follows quite high. The factors associated with a higher prevalence were the historic of other STDs , historic of sex work, being more than 30 years and reside in the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre.
"If you look at the data for transgender women living in the metropolitan area of ​​Porto Alegre, with the prevalence in the general population in this context , we see that transgender women have a 14.5 times greater risk for HIV infection. These findings leave transgender women among the most vulnerable groups to the epidemic", says researcher Brandelli Angelo Costa.
Numbers of transphobic violence

As homophobic violence, transphobic violence remains rampant in Brazil and throughout the region. Latin America accounts for almost 80% of reported murders of transgender people in the world, and more than half of these deaths occur in Brazil - where 550 trans people are reported to have been killed since 2008. The data was provided by NGO Transgender Europe, published in November 2013.
Although worrying, human rights leaders and activists of the transgender community believe that these figures may be even higher, as many transvestites and transsexuals in the bulletins are classified as homosexuals or men who have sex with men. Another obstacle is the lack of infrastructure for accurate monitoring of these numbers within the country.
Data collected by TransRevolução Group (RJ) / RedTrans Brazil, for example, show that in 2013, in Brazil, 121 transgender people were murdered (which only includes reported and confirmed data). In addition, there are records of 11 people unconfirmed, which would bring the total number of murdered trans people to 132. 
From this survey, it is concluded that among the five regions of the country the Northeast appears first with 40 killings; Southeast in second with 38; South third with 18; Midwest fourth with 13, and the North in fifth with 12.
#LGBT #sexualorientation #genderidentity, #lgbt, #Human Rights, HIV and sex work, Urban Health and Justice Initiative, MSM; transgender; LGBT; anti-discrimination; community empowerment