29 January 2013

Valentina Verbal Runs For Chilean Congress

Last year, Argentina passed a law that said, in essence, any Argentinian aged 18 or over can be whichever gender he or she chooses.  No surgery is required, and for those who want it, the government will provide it free of charge.

Now neighboring Chile may go where neither the US nor any of the other countries seen as avatars of human rights has gone:  It may elect its first transgender member of Congress.

Valentina Verbal has just announced her candidacy for election to the position in November.  She realizes she has an uphill battle in a country where "If you're male, you have to be masculine. If you're female, you have to be feminine.  If you're not, it's weird."  

One of the things she wants to do, if she's elected, is to change the country's gender-identity laws.  "When a person has a card or national identity card that doesn't reflect their social sex, in practice it means they are undocumented", she says.  "We have to change the law so that it recognizes the identity of transgender people without the state obligating them to have an actual sex change."  Changing the law is necessary, she says, because when an identity card says one sex, but the person appears as another, "it can be difficult to find employers who don't see it as a problem".  This makes it difficult for such a person to find work, which she calls "a basic human right".

Her platform is not limited to identity cards or other issues of concern to transgender people.  She wants to help create "a more citizen-based democracy, not just a democracy run by political parties of so-called 'professionals'".

While she has received support within her party, she still has to defeat two multi-term incumbents in order to receive her party's nomination.  Then, of course, there is the general election.  She acknowledges she is "taking a risk" but vows to "try anyway."

You can read an inerview with her here.  

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