South America could have its first transgender legislator if Valentina Verbal wins a seat in congress in next November’s election.
Verbal announced her candidacy last week and said in an interview with Santiago Times that she intends to lobby for a change in the laws that affect transgender people in Chile.
‘We have to change the law that recognizes the sexual identity of transgender people without the state obligating them to have an actual sex change,’ she said.
Verbal, who is currently coordinator of the trans commission at LGBT rights organization FundaciÃ³n Iguales, has prompted surprise by choosing to represent center-right party National Renewal (RN).
‘The ideas of the center-right rest on the idea of basic human freedom,’ Verbal wrote in a blogpost defending her choice of political party, which she has been a member of since her youth.
‘Because of this, it seems logical that it is not enough to simply defend political and economic freedoms, but also to do the same with cultural freedoms, including the right to decide on sexual orientation and express freely gender identity.’
Verbal has yet to receive official support from the party, but RN senators Lily Pérez and Francisco ChahuÃ¡n have verbally given her support.
Chile’s first transgender congressional candidate is the latest milestone in a progressive year for the South American country.
Last July the president signed hate crimes legislation into law which protects sexual orientation and gender identity minorities and in November the first openly gay councilman was elected in Santiago.