Argentina: Everyone Was a Transgender Activist

To protest the recent brutal beating of transvestite activist Nadia, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transvestite community chained themselves to the stairs of the Palace of Justice in Buenos Aires where they were joined by Laura Bonaparte of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

"When bombs were placed in the Israeli Embassy, we were all Jewish, when photographer José Luis Cabezas was murdered we were all Cabezas, today gays, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals, we are all transvestites" said Luciana Kerner of the Gay and Lesbian Youth Group (Grupo de Jóvenes Gays y Lesbianas).

The demonstration was the first in a series of events aimed at educating the general public regarding transphobic violence and the connection between all forms of institutionalized violence suffered by other minority groups -- youth, elderly , indigenous people and the poor-- in Argentina. Activists handed out over 4,000 informational handbills which received an overwhelmingly positive response.

Lohanna Berkins from Asociacion Lucha por la Identidad Travesti, one of several groups working for the rights of transvestites in the city of Buenos Aires, declared "Many of the transvestite that are here today will probably spend the night in the police stations... but we will continue calling these same stations so that they will not 'disappear', we will continue asking for human rights."

In the last two years, 64 transvestites have been murdered in Buenos Aires. Nadia had organized a vocal opposition to police brutality. On January 11, while in police custody, she was placed in a straitjacket and beaten until unconscious

In a moment that brought home the degree of impunity with which people are killed in this metropolis, photographers and reporters who arrived to cover the event handed out their own leaflets with the picture of their murdered colleague, José Luis Cabezas. The chained activists held up Cabezas' picture as the crowd broke into applause.