For the first time in Mexico, two trans women will sit in the country’s lower house of Congress. Both of them have promised to work toward LGBTQ+ rights.
Over 100 LGBTQ+ people ran for office in Mexico’s June 6 elections, reported the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Those elections had the largest mid-term turnout in over twenty years.
The Congresswomen — Maria Clemente Garcia and Salma Luevano — are members of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena political party.
“There’s really a lot of poverty ... extreme poverty within our trans population,” Luevano said, reported TRF.
The activist, 52, runs a collective called Together for the Way of Diversity. She’s also the owner of a salon in Aguascalientes, a state in central Mexico. This year, the collective has worked to create electoral rules to have a quota for parties to have from underrepresented populations.
“I’ll take this fight proudly ... for our people who are vulnerable,” she said.
Both Luevano and Garcia were assigned seats in Congress. The Chamber of Deputies is made up of 500 seats. Of those, 300 are directly elected and 200 are assigned through a proportional representation system — meaning the seats go to political parties based on the proportion of the vote the parties received.
About 40 trans candidates were up for Congress, Agence France-Presse reported.
While 20 of Mexico’s 31 states recognize same-sex marriage and trans people can change their gender identity on their legal documents, many still suffer from discrimination. TRF reported that dozens are killed each year in hate crimes targeting LGBTQ+ people. Religious groups also condemn the population.
“Thirty years have passed and we still have the same discrimination, we still have the same fight,” Luevano told the outlet.
Garcia, 36, is an activist from Mexico City. She told TRF that she wants to improve diversity in the private sector by allowing tax cuts for companies hiring LGBTQ+ people. Garcia also wants to update the country’s anti-discrimination laws with more contemporary language.
She added that her appointment was “an achievement, it’s a step forward, it’s a symbol.”