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Overcoming the prejudices of the past

 La Calle (Colombia) 28 May 2019

(Originally published: 09/2009) The life of a transgendered individual is a world of fear and exclusion juxtaposed with personal liberation and living by one’s own rules. In Bogota, a new vision has emerged about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals. In 2008, the Constitutional Court granted equal rights to homosexual couples, in all areas except for family and adoption. Since this law it has also become less expensive to change your name and gender. But there is still much to be done. (439 words) - Staff writer

Gender is not a one-way street, as many of us have learned. Making the transition from male to female - and sometimes back again - is a way of crossing the lines that society imposes. Making such a journey is more than many of us will dare to do during the course of our own lives.

During the day these people blend into society, some are students of a prestigious university while others work in an automotive repair shop. But at night they become nightclub divas - we call them drag queens. Others linger for a while, or sometimes cross this line permanently. These are the transvestites.

More than just occasionally showing their womanly face, they face the problems of everyday life from a feminine point of view. Then they change the way they look, following their thoughts and desires. In general, their place becomes limited to prostitution, entertainment and beautification.

But there are more radical ways of putting yourself firmly on the other side of the line, such as through sex-change surgery. Those who choose this option are transsexual men and women trapped in bodies that do not echo their feelings and emotions.

Similarly suffering are those born as both sexes. For them, as much as for transsexuals, family, medicine and the Law feel entitled to impose or negate a particular direction for their lives.

Transvestites have been silenced and excluded by family, school, work networks, and the legal and health systems, who continue to see them as sick and immoral. The institutionalisation of exclusion has kept them hidden from statistics. There are no official figures about the life, needs or death of transgender people.

In Bogota, a new vision has emerged about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals. In 2008, the Constitutional Court granted equal rights to homosexual couples, in all areas except for family and adoption. Since this law it has also become less expensive to change your name and gender. But there is still much to be done, since the Capital District's policy is the only LGBT public policy in the country.

The daily realities faced by the trans population challenges the capacity of society to respect the rights of others, particularly when dealing with this intimate aspect of our humanity and sexuality.

A dignity free from any kind of discrimination is not only legal, but reaches into the space where the clothes end and skin begins, whether yours or someone else's. Art, creativity and education are here to help us understand.

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