First-ever trans woman to run for office in Romania vows to make life better for women, sex workers and the Roma community

Transgender woman launches historic bid for public office in Romania

An out transgender woman is making a historic bid for public office in Romania.

Antonella Lerca, a Roma woman and sex worker, is campaigning to run as an independent candidate for District 2 in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.

Launching her campaign today, she told PinkNews that she’d grown tired of seeing no representation of LGBT+ people in politics and this had made her decide to run herself.

“I’d had enough of rich white privileged men making decisions for vulnerable communities in Romania,” Lerca said, “like the Roma community, transgender community and sex worker community – the three communities I am part of.”

“We don’t have anyone from the LGBT+ community in Romanian politics. I face a lot of conservative people,” she continued.

Lerca, 30, added that she will draw on eight years experience as a human-rights activist in her campaign. “I’ve met a lot of vulnerable communities,” she said. “My entire life experience has given me the power to make this decision.”

Romania recently narrowly avoided seeing discussions of “gender identity ideology” banned in schools, when a bill passed in the senate on June 16 – but was then opposed by president Klaus Iohannis.

Today, Lerca began collecting signatures of supporters. To enter the official race she must collect signatures from at least 0.5 per cent of voters in District 2 – roughly 2,000 names.

Her platform includes a focus on providing social protection, developing investment funds for social housing, introducing a rent cap, and investing in local infrastructure and education programmes.

Issues that affect women, like combatting sexual aggression and street harassment, and building refuges for mothers and children facing emergecy conditions, are also top of Lerca’s list.

“I take this step in politics today because I am willing to accept a huge responsibility in this crisis period,” Lerca said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The crisis will increase and will affect the most vulnerable communities, which need their voices to be heard and represented in local politics.”

So far, she’s consulted “hundreds” of people living in District 2 about their problems and needs. And a crowdfunder has been set up by colleagues from the activist community to help support her campaigning costs.

“I want a greener, modern, safe Disrict 2 for all citizens,” Lerca added.

“Poverty will be fought by active measures. The old political establishment proved their malpractice in the last months and a major change is needed, and I think I can help with that change.”