trans brazilian rep erica malunguinho fights back
By Erin White
March 4, 2019
Last December, Erica Malunguinho was sworn in as Brazil’s first trans woman elected as a state representative, joining the ranks of the state’s most influential people and their institutions.
In São Paulo, Malunguinho is part of a growing movement of trans and queer activists smashing the exclusive, racist, homophobic political landscape in Brazil. As someone who ran on the Socialism And Liberation Party (PSOL) platform, receiving over 50,000 votes, one of Malunguinho’s most pressing goals is to raise political participation amongst underrepresented groups. “We have a gigantic mission to recover the notion of politics for the people,” she told the HuffPost soon after the election. “Institutional politics was placed far from the people, mainly far from historically vulnerable groups. This distance is purposeful. Our mission is to make that rapprochement and humanize politics. That means to understand that our existence is political, the existence of our historically erased people — like Black and LGBTQ communities.”
And in the age of Jair Bolsonaro, who took office this past January, the need for underrepresented groups is greater than ever. Truly. As a candidate, he embraced despicable violent rhetoric targeted at marginalized groups and in the past he has even been fined for his violent speech. Which has included the advocacy of a congresswoman to be raped. Not to mention his denial that Afro-Brazilians, descendants of slaves, are owed reparations for the violence of slavery. But it’s not just words that hurt, it’s his policies too. Bolsonaro has taken an anti-environmentalist approach to govern as well and has implemented policies that will negatively affect poor people of color.
But activists like Malunguinho are fighting back.
“You cannot be closed off, we cannot be afraid to go out on the street,” she said when asked if she was afraid. “We have to be careful and create strategies of strengthening and preservation, which is what we have been doing for a long time. As long as they do not kill us, we will survive.”
We see you. We hear you.
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