| Jul 10, 2023
In classrooms, courts, hospitals and on the streets, the struggle has a feminist and grassroots feel to it. Luisa and her colleagues from diversidad valiente santiagueña (di.va.s), in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, are on a community mobilisation and construction mission.
Luisa remembers when transsexuals and transvestites were targets of constant abuse because there were by-laws against a person dressing in disagreement with their biological sex. Regardless of what they were doing, they couldn't go anywhere without having the police on their tail. In 2008, with Diversidad Valiente Santiagueña (Courageous Diversity from Santiago del Estero) they decided to put a stop to this situation. They confronted conservative sectors and joined commissions to reform the Misdemeanour Code in their province. In that space they were militant to abolish articles that criminalised trans people and they managed to add sexual orientation to the Article on discrimination.
Their legal statute had not yet been presented when Di.Va.S joined forces with the Asociación de Travestis, Transexuales y Transgéneros de Argentina (Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgenders of Argentina, ATTTA). Thanks to this partnership, they gained more visibility and the struggle became a party. In 2009, the first Pride March in the province was organised. Between rounds of Argentinian tea, with tenacity, a space for cooperation, belonging, communication and joint learning was established.
The feminist, intersectional, anti-racist and gender-sensitive foundations of the organisation began to take hold.
With international funding that Di.Va.S obtained in 2008, they built their own headquarters, the House of Diversity in Santiago del Estero. From that moment on, they set about advocating for similar houses to be created throughout the province. In 2012, they managed to open the Diversity office in the Municipality of La Banda. In 2013, they worked to create the Affective Sexual Diversity office as part of the province's Human Rights Secretary and, a year later, a similar office was also established in the Municipality of Frías.
With all the energy they put into activism, they work to raise awareness in classrooms, homes and hospitals about diversity, comprehensive sexual education and rights. Convinced that social changes are generated by involving the community, Di.Va.S is engaging in spaces everywhere. They started debate about the Equal Marriage Law. The same thing happened when the Gender Identity Law was passed in Argentina. In an official act, eight trans people received their identity documents and Luisa was among them. As a mother and grandmother, she makes her own life a constant conquest.
Di.Va.S is active in the construction of the memory and current history of the LGBTIQ+ movement in Santiago del Estero. While they are organising the National and International Congress of Comprehensive Sexual Education and the Latin American Grassroots Feminist Forum, they continue with the Pride Day marches. Flying the rainbow flag they remember those who were in the Stonewall Riots and who marked a turning point in the fight for rights. They follow in their footsteps, demanding what belongs to them.
There are 55 trans women who are finishing high school in public schools and five more are attending university in their province. That they are studying in these educational spaces is a huge achievement. Luisa believes that this is significant and shakes her silver hair, a symbol of how her resilience and tenacity have transformed her.
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