Record-breaking number of trans candidates run for office in Brazil

More than 50 transgender candidates—a record-breaking number—are running for state and federal offices in Brazil.

The 54 hopefuls mark a tenfold increase compared to the number that put themselves forward for the 2014 general election—only five candidates ran at the time—according to the BBC.

Polls for the general election, including the presidency, open on October 7. Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party, who is known for his anti-LGBT+ views and once said he’d rather his son be dead than gay, currently leads the polls to become Brazil’s next president.

Abreu is one of 54 trans candidates running for office. (tifannyabreu10/Instagram)One of the transgender candidates, Tifanny Abreu, already made history when she began playing in Brazil’s female volleyball premier league.

She is now vying for a seat in the Lower House as a candidate for the conservative ruling party, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).

“I don’t want my nieces and nephews, or any young people in Brazil, to go through what I went through,” she told the BBC.

“People like me need to occupy spaces in national politics in order to govern in LGBT people’s interests and also to reverse the stigma about trans people,” she added.

Another trans candidate, Barbara Aires, who spent most of her childhood years living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, told NBC: “When all you have are rich, white men discussing policies, things will never improve for the majority of people.”

Aires is hoping to be elected to office for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party.

In recent years, Brazil’s political system has made great strides in enshrining trans rights in law—however violence against trans people is at a record high.

Trans people in Brazil have been able to legally change their gender since 2009.

And, two landmark rulings in March, mean that trans candidates can now run for office using their preferred name and that trans people can legally change their gender without having hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery.

Brazil’s public health system also provides free gender reassignment surgery.

But, according to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals in Brazil, 179 trans people were killed in the country in 2017, an increase from 144 in 2016, reports NBC.

And the organisation has said that 122 trans people have been killed so far this year in Brazil.

Brazil’s oldest LGBT watchdog, Grupo Gay da Bahia, revealed in September that more than 300 people had been killed in anti-LGBT+ hate crimes so far this year. Among them was openly lesbian politician Marielle Franco, whose assassination in her native Rio de Janeiro in March sparked protests across the country.