In Mexico, transgender politicians make strides

Salma Luévano was arrested for publicly identifying herself as transgender in provincial Mexico in 1985. Now she is set to take office as a member of Congress It has been a long journey, but one that appears to be breaking through the rigid definitions of gender that long prevailed in Mexico. Luévano is one of two transgender federal legislators elected to the lower house in the country’s June 6 elections. Luévano plans to lead a campaign to get gender equality written into the constitution and gain recognition nationwide for same-sex marriage and gender identity. Luévano, a hair stylist who ran on the ticket of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador s Morena party, is under no illusions about how hard the task still is. “The fact that I was able to get here doesn’t mean they’re going to roll out the red carpet for me, and everything is solved,” Luévano said in an interview this week. López Obrador himself is socially conservative, and has not pushed gender issues. “What comes next is the struggle to try to convince 500 colleagues, but it is not impossible,” Luévano said, referring to the number of seats in the lower house. At the age of 17 in 1985, Luévano was surrounded by dozen of police in the central plaza of the provincial city of Aguascalientes and detained amid shoves and blows, accused of being a threat to public decency and morals. That started Luévano on a three-decade struggle for equality, alongside María Clemente García, the other transgender person elected to Congress this year. One of their first efforts will be to get the national statistics institute to perform a census of LGBT people.