The woman who in 2013 became the first out trans person to run for a seat in Ecuador's Congress has broken down another barrier by announcing that she and her partner, a transgender man, are pregnant.
Diane Rodriguez, 33, announced that her partner, 22-year-old Fernando Machado, is four months pregnant with the couple's first child on social media late last month.
The news reached an international audience following a cover story titled "My Boyfriend is Pregnant" in the Sunday magazine of Ecuadorian newspaper El Universal. The Spanish-language article identified the pair of activists as the first trans couple to become pregnant in the South American nation, and stressed that both future parents hope to raise awareness about trans issues and continue the fight for trans equality as they grow their family.
The article did note that Machado, who was born in Venezuela, where he was assigned female at birth, was impregnated by Rodriguez, who was assigned male at birth. Both parents-to-be are outspoken activists in Ecuador, who openly discuss their trans identities in hopes of combatting stigma and securing equal rights for trans residents.
In an interview with El Universal, Rodriguez patiently explained that she and her partner each hold their own identities independent of one another, but also hope to interrupt cultural assumptions about what it means to be a man and a woman.
"We are transgender regardless of whether we conceive," she said in Spanish. "For me, as a trans woman, I like men like Fernando, and he, a trans man, likes women like we. We simply complement each other other, and as a result, we will have a son or daughter."
Speaking to U.S.-based outlet Fusion in October, Rodriguez said she was prepared to encounter transphobia and hateful ignorance about the family she and Machado are building.
"Some people are for this and some are against it, but that doesn't make us uncomfortable," she said. "We knew that would happen and we were prepared because our goal is to shake the moral foundation in Ecuador and other countries. What people need to understand is that our love is bearing fruit in the form of a child. We have wanted this effusively, and now it's a reality."
While Ecuador has taken some strides toward equality for gay and lesbian residents -- civil unions became an option for same-sex couples in September 2014 -- discussion of gender and trans equality is still taboo in the largely Roman Catholic nation, Rodriguez told Fusion.
"Transsexual people are still fighting for basic things, like the right not to be killed," she explained. "Hate crimes against transexuals in Ecuador are as common as they are in the United States I think that's what we have to work on. If we have achieved rights for homosexuals, now in the moment to concern ourselves with the rights of transsexuals."
But earlier this month, Ecuador's National Assembly approved legislation that will allow adult citizens to change the gender on their national identifying documents, in a move expressly directed at serving the trans and intersex community, according to Rodriguez's blog. The legislation differs from other trans-affirming laws worldwide in that it maintains the sex assigned at birth on a person's birth certificate as a "private right," but allows citizens to change the gender marker on their identifying documents, allowing for a masculine or feminine presentation.
Read the full interview with Rodriguez (in Spanish) at El Universal here.