LGBT activists display their inked fingers after voting in the second round of the Salvadoran presidential elections, on March 9, 2014. in order to prove that a citizen has voted, fingers are dipped in semi-permanent ink after turning in the ballot. Third from left is Pati Hernandez, executive director of ASPIDH Arco Iris, and second from right is Karla Avelar, executive director of COMCAVIS trans.
BY DANIELLE MARIE MACKEY AND GLORIA MARISELA MORAN / GlobalPost
SAN SALVADOR and NEW YORK—Rubi Navas is among the first transgender women in the history of El Salvador to be allowed to vote.
In previous years, Rubi and her peers were normally barred from voting, because their physical appearances don’t match the masculine birth names on their national identification cards. The few who were able to cast ballots were lucky; an unusually progressive election official had probably let them by.
But on Feb. 1, three days before the first round of the 2014 Salvadoran presidential elections, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal proclaimed that all people must be allowed to vote, without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While recent historic advances, like this one, were made by the administration of outgoing president Mauricio Funes, questions remain about whether his successor, Salvador Sanchez Ceren (pictured), will take the same proactive stance.
Despite previous progress, the climate for LGBTI rights in El Salvador is complicated by corruption and organized crime, which exacerbate the already pervasive issues of discrimination and violence.
On March 9, in the elections’ second and final round, Rubi went to the polls with a bandaged right arm to protect bullet wounds she sustained in an attack nearly one month earlier. In a violent episode all-too-familiar to many LGBTI people in El Salvador, Rubi was shot three times by an off-duty police officer.
While simultaneously enjoying a newly awarded right, Rubi arrived at the polling station still the unhealed victim of attempts on her life—an event which is representative of the state of LGBTI rights in El Salvador, and the ways in which discrimination still functions against LGBTI people.
On the night of Feb. 7, 2014, Rubi was working on a street near downtown San Salvador.
Like many transgender women in El Salvador, she is only able to find employment in sex work. An off-duty, intoxicated officer cornered Rubi, accusing her of stealing his mobile phone. When she denied the accusation, he shot her three times, hitting her once in the neck and twice in the arm.
CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...