Op-ed: Colombia Is Our Movement in Motion

Student Kristen Thompson found a Colombia that is making legal advances but still needs cultural change.

BY Kristen Thompson

August 24 2012 4:00 AM ET

Bears march at Bogotá Pride.

This dangerous situation is further perpetuated by police abuse against LGBT people, and particularly transgender women, who are vulnerable to attacks by police officers who should be protecting them.

Colombian trans activist Laura Weins has dedicated herself to transgender rights for 14 years. Sadly, no group has been more disproportionately vulnerable to attacks, murders, and across-the-board discrimination in Colombia than transgender people. According to Weins, the most important right for trans people to achieve is simply freedom of movement.

For her, the march is about taking back spaces where many trans women fear to tread. “It’s a space to say that we can go out, we can make ourselves visible,” she said. “Take the spaces of this city that for many are unknown. It’s a way of saying we exist in these places. We’re also building the city, the city is also ours.”

The march was both a boisterous celebration and a resounding demand for rights still out of reach. In the 2012 pride march, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied Colombians took literal and symbolic steps toward equality and pushed forward toward a day when children can be themselves at school, trans women can safely enter into public spaces, and lesbian teenage couples will not receive the boot for kissing goodbye on a public bus.
 


KRISTEN THOMPSON is a master of international affairs student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a policy focus in human rights. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2006 with a degree in international development studies and history and most recently worked as a policy associate for Children’s Defense Fund-California. Thompson can be reached at [email protected]

See more Bogotá Pride images on the following pages.

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