Every year, hundreds of LGBTQI people are killed in the country, where macho culture and ultra-conservative evangelical churches still hold great sway. According to several human rights groups, this makes Brazil a world leader for such deaths, at least among countries where data is available.
For this reason, equal rights activists and advocates are all the more pleased that three times as many transgender candidates — people who do not identify at all or only partly with their biological sex — are running in upcoming local elections as four years ago.
According to figures from the National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals (ANTRA), 281 trans people are running for local political posts, including two for mayor and one for deputy mayor. In 2016, only 89 trans people ran as candidates, according to ANTRA.
More women, more non-whites
Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal itself differentiates only between female and male in the details it gives about candidates. It says a good third of the 557,000 candidates are (biologically) female and two-thirds are (biologically) male. This means that the proportion of women taking part in these local elections is 1.7 percentage points higher than at the polls in 2016.
Another difference this time round has to do with skin colour or ethnicity. According to the tribunal, 51.3% of the candidates define themselves as “pardo” (brown), “preto” (Black), “indigena” (indigenous) or “amarelo” (Asian). That is more than in past years — and, according to media, the first time that non-white candidates are in the majority. In a country in which 51% of people have African roots and racism is still very widespread, this is very significant.
One of the two trans people running for the post of mayor is Leticia Lanz, who wants to lead Brazil’s eighth-largest city, Curitiba, in the south of the country. On Facebook, Lanz, a 68-year-old trans woman who is married to a woman, states: “I don’t want to win just your vote, but also your minds, your hearts and your hands.” While Lanz is the candidate for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), there are also trans candidates from the other end of the political spectrum. The second trans person running for mayor is Bianca Biancardi from the Party of the Brazilian Woman (PMB). This party is not, as the name suggests, a feminist party but one that leans to the right. Biancari, who runs a beauty salon in the south-eastern city of Cariacica, said in an interview recently that she was a Christian and advocated conservative positions.
Keila Simpson, the president of the NGO ANTRA, believes that part of the reason why so many more trans people than previously are running in the election in 2020 is the violence they face. In May alone, 38 trans people were murdered in Brazil, Simpson said. “That’s why there is a political awakening in the community. Trans bodies are political in themselves, but to run as a candidate is a statement against all those who want to relegate them to the fringes of society,” Simpson said.
— This article has been provided by Deutsche Welle