June July 2016
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Meet the First Trans Legislator Elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly

Tamara Adrián

Tamara Adrián, a 61-year-old transgender lawyer and university professor, officially took her oath of office at the National Assembly of Venezuela on January 14.

Adrián, who was featured last year in The Advocate’s profile of activists fighting for trans equality across the Americas, is the second trans official to ever be elected to a legislature within the Americas, according to Voluntad Popular. The first was Michelle Suárez Bértora, who joined the Senate of Uruguay in 2014. 

“I am somehow the inspiration for many people who thought it was not possible to become involved in mainstream politics,” Adrián shared to the Washington Blade last December when her election was first announced.

“Such news will hopefully motivate more LGBTIQ people to run for office in other countries,” said a congratulatory statement from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, when she won her election in December of last year.

Tamara Adrian

Tamara Adrián (third from left)

Adrián serves as a board member and alternate co-secretary general of ILGA, a 38-year-old umbrella organization of more than 1100 member organizations in six different global regions. These regions include Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania, which constitutes New Zealand, Australia, and Pacific Islands.

“Tamara’s election as the first openly trans person to the Venezuelan National Assembly is great news to the country, the region, but also to all trans people around the world," said Helen Kennedy and Ruth Baldacchino, ILGA’s co-secretaries general in the statement. 

"LGBTIQ people are still excluded and discriminated at many levels, and political representation provides a space for more visibility," they continued. "Elected politicians like Tamara serve as role models to many beyond their national contexts and such news will hopefully motivate more LGBTIQ people to run for office in other countries." 

Adrián’s electoral campaign was not without challenges. She was forced to register her candidacy for legislative office under the male name assigned to her at birth because, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported last August, Venezuelan law currently forbids trans people to legally change their names.

Adrián represents Popular Will, a progressive, center-left, pro-LGBT political party that holds 14 out of 167 seats in the Venezuelan National Assembly. Popular Will is part of Socialist International, a worldwide consortium of democratic socialist political organizations. 

A highly visible activist for LGBT rights in Venezuela, Adrián will become an alternate deputy in the legislator, which allows her to serve in deputy Tomas Guanipa’s stead in his absence and assume the rights and duties of a traditional assembly member, according to the Washington Blade. When she ran for office, she represented the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

Adrián earned a PhD in Commercial Law from the Université Panthéon-Assas in Paris, and she is also professor of law at the Catholic University Andres Bello, the Central University of Venezuela, and the Metropolitan University.

After traveling to Thailand in 2002 to receive gender confirmation surgery, Adrián appealed to the Venezuelan Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to recognize her female gender identity in May 2004. To the outrage of trans advocates across the globe, she has yet to receive a reply to her appeal, and her election to legislative office signals the country’s growing cry for trans equality.

Adrián joins a slowly expanding number of trans politicians elected to political office in the Americas. In 2012, Adela Hernández became the first trans person to serve on the Caibarién Municipal Council in the province of Villa Clara in Cuba. And, in 2014, Luisa Revilla Urcia became the first trans person to serve on a local council in La Esperanza in the province of Trujillo in Peru.

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