Transgender woman running for Colombian Senate

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A transgender woman who is running for the Colombian Senate hopes to make history in the South American country.

Tatiana Piñeros on Monday formally registered her candidacy with Colombian election officials.

Piñeros is ninth among the list of candidates for the “List of Decency” — a coalition that includes the center-left Independent Social Alliance and Patriotic Union parties and the Indigenous and Social Alternative Movement.

Congressional elections are scheduled to take place on March 11. Piñeros would become the first openly trans person elected to the Colombian congress if she receives enough votes.

“We need to have new voices,” she told the Washington Blade on Tuesday from the Colombian capital of Bogotá. “We need new leaders.”

Piñeros hopes to represent “all of Colombian society’

Piñeros was born and raised in Bogotá.

She transitioned a decade ago when she was working for a public relations company.

Piñeros ran Bogotá’s social welfare agency and tourism office during the administration of former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro that ended in 2015. She also participated in a Victory Institute-sponsored event on LGBT Colombians’ involvement in their country’s political process that took place in Bogotá in 2013.

Piñeros told the Blade in September during a sit-down interview at her apartment that overlooks Bogotá’s Chapinero neighborhood that trans people have less access to education and employment opportunities because of discrimination based on gender identity. She told the Blade on Tuesday that increased access to health care with a “different approach to trans people” is part of her campaign platform.

“I am moving forward with every desire to represent not only LGBT people but all of Colombian society,” added Piñeros, noting her platform also includes free public education and fighting for people with disabilities.

Piñeros also discussed the peace agreement that President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño, the then-commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed in the city of Cartagena on Sept. 26, 2016.

Voters narrowly rejected the agreement — which specifically acknowledged the war’s LGBT victims — in a referendum that took place a few days later. Santos renegotiated the agreement with the FARC and the Colombian congress ratified it last November.

The FARC and the Colombian government began to implement the agreement earlier this year.

“Social issues must be addressed in the post-conflict scenario because that is what is going to prevent or provoke a new conflict in the country,” Piñeros told the Blade on Tuesday. “People without opportunities fall into delinquency and we cannot think about militarization, we cannot think about filling the streets with police officers. We need to address the social issue.”

Piñeros would join a handful of openly trans elected officials in Latin America if she were elected.

Michelle Suarez, who is a member of the Uruguayan Communist Party, is the first openly trans person elected to the country’s Senate. She told the Blade after she assumed her seat on Oct. 11 that she feels “very honored” to have made history in her country.

Diane Rodríguez earlier this year won a seat in Ecuador’s congress when she ran on the ticket of current Congressman Carlos Vera, a former World Cup referee who was a candidate for the left-leaning Movimiento Alianza PAIS party. Tamara Adrián, a member of the left-leaning Popular Will party that is part of the opposition against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, in 2015 was elected to the country’s National Assembly.

Luisa Revilla in 2014 became the first openly trans person elected to public office in Peru after she won a seat on the local council in La Esperanza, a city that is located in the province of Trujillo. Adela Hernández in 2012 became the first openly trans person to hold public office in Cuba when she became a member of the Caibarién Municipal Council in the province of Villa Clara.

Colombian Congresswoman Angélica Lozano in March confirmed to the Blade that she is running for the Senate.

Lozano, who is bisexual, in 2014 became the first openly LGBT person elected to the Colombian congress.

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