Afro-Brazilian activist Érica Malunguinho has made history as the first transgender woman to win a position in the state congress in Sâo Paulo.
Malunguinho is one of 53 transgender women who ran for office and is also a member of "The Seeds of Marielle," a collective of over 200 black women candidates formed in memory of activist Marielle Franco, according to OkayAfrica.
Franco was assassinated on March 13 after she spoke out against police brutality during a protest. Her death had a profound effect on Malunguinho.
“I cried a lot when I heard about Marielle’s murder,” she told Afropunk. “Her political project was just wiped out. It was a message to us that we should not be there fighting over our bodies and resisting genocide and racism. I had so much hate in me. At the same time, I knew I needed to take this hate and do something positive with it.”
Malunguinho’s victory is groundbreaking in a profoundly conservative country with a history of violence and prejudice against LGBTQ individuals.
Right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who won the first round of votes, has a history of making homophobic comments.
“I won’t fight against it nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing each other on the street, I’ll beat them up,” he said in 2002, according to NBC News. In 2011, he said he was “incapable of loving a homosexual son.”
Transgender people are a particularly vulnerable population in Brazil. In 2017, 179 transgender people were killed. This year’s death toll is currently 122, reports ABC News.
Now, check these out: