In 2015, Tamara Adrián became the first ever transgender person elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly. In a country where few LGBT rights have been recognised in law thanks to a challenging political landscape, Tamara knew it was more important than ever to fight for positive change.
Over the past two years of serving in office, Tamara has rallied for proper access to public records on identity, same-sex marriage and human rights in Venezuela’s dominant-party system (many refer to it as a dictatorship). While this is of particular importance to Tamara, who was forced by law to register in her previous career as a lawyer under her birth name, Thomas, she recognises that she is not the only one being disadvantaged by the system and has vowed to push for equal rights no matter what it takes.
The lack of LGBT rights advancement in Venezeula has been blamed on the legacy left by the Chavist party, that many believe to be corrupt and non-progressive. Because of the balance of powers, now new laws proposed or discussed from outside the dominant party in power will be implemented. This has even extended to them annulling the powers of the National Assembly, leaving Tamara without pay.
However, she hasn’t let this stop her and despite being one of the many, as she described to Advocate, “volunteers for the country’s sake”, Tamara continues to fight.
She has recently introduced an act to amend the Civil Registry Law, which would legalise same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBT persons and allow transgender persons to legally change their name and gender. The act would also recognise these actions when done abroad.
But wait, there’s more! Tamara’s passion for human rights has also seen her propose an act that makes hate-crimes against LGBT persons punishable by law, a disgusting occurrence that there is currently little or no legal recourse for.
Tamara tells Advocate that despite her powers for change being limited by the corrupt system, being an out and proud transgender person is the first step in creating visibility for others:
"Representation matters, and staying visible and continuing to push for equality regardless of immediate realities is essential."
Tamara’s proposed laws are currently being debated by parliament, and while she has little hope of them going through, it all comes back to representation. There have been protests around the country by LGBT groups and individuals demanding to be given a voice. Tamara is not blind to her role in this, telling Advocate:
"I’m able to demonstrate that our communities are multifaceted and that we truly care about our country and its people - and this reduces stereotypes of trans people, and helps change hearts and minds."