For the first time in the nation's history, transgender people were allowed to vote in an election. In a piece that originally appeared on GlobalPost and was shared by Towleroad, Danielle Marie Mackey and Gloria Marisela Moran explore this major achievement, the state of LGBT equality (or lack thereof), ongoing institutional corruption, and remaining hurdles.
Rubi Navas is among the first transgender women in the history of El Salvador to be allowed to vote.
In previous years, Rubi and her peers were normally barred from voting, because their physical appearances don’t match the masculine birth names on their national identification cards. The few who were able to cast ballots were lucky; an unusually progressive election official had probably let them by.
But on Feb. 1, three days before the first round of the 2014 Salvadoran presidential elections, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal proclaimed that all people must be allowed to vote, without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While recent historic advances, like this one, were made by the administration of outgoing president Mauricio Funes, questions remain about whether his successor, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, will take the same proactive stance.
Despite previous progress, the climate for LGBTI rights in El Salvador is complicated by corruption and organized crime, which exacerbate the already pervasive issues of discrimination and violence.
On March 9, in the elections’ second and final round, Rubi went to the polls with a bandaged right arm to protect bullet wounds she sustained in an attack nearly one month earlier. In a violent episode all-too-familiar to many LGBTI people in El Salvador, Rubi was shot three times by an off-duty police officer.
While simultaneously enjoying a newly awarded right, Rubi arrived at the polling station still the unhealed victim of attempts on her life . . .
“History tells us that when people possess rights, we don't let them be taken from us easily. Even if the new government doesn't maintain Funes's initiatives, the sensitivity to LGBT rights that now exists in many public entities is irreversible,” she said. “Now, some people understand that being gay isn't a disease, it's not satanic, it doesn't mean you'll get AIDS by shaking a gay person's hand. Discrimination still exists—I’m not saying today that the battle has been won—but the seed has been planted and that is important.”
Danielle collaborated with GLAAD in 2012 for an interview series, "Solidarity & Actions," with Salvadoran lesbian advocates who discussed anti-LGBT violence, grassroots organizing, global influences on equality, and more. You can read her and Gloria's full article here.