Trans Community Petitions Venezuelan Supreme Court to Advance Transgender Rights

Trans activists submitted an official legal appeal to the court Thursday, asking the body to back their right to formally change their name and gender. 

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Caracas, April 6th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Activists from the trans community in Venezuela submitted an official petition to the Supreme Court Justice (TSJ) Thursday, asking the judicial body to back their right to formally change their name and gender. 

Speaking to reporters outside the country’s top court, Rummie Quintero from the civil association Divas of Venezuela, which underwrote the appeal, explained that they had decided to go to the Supreme Court after facing “administrative silence” on the issue in other state institutions.  

“We decided to take this to the juridic level, we are hoping that through this institution we can gain the full recognition of our rights, obviously as well as the right for trans people to change their names and gender,” stated Quintero. 

According to Quintero, Divas of Venezuela was encouraged by the court’s recent decision to temporarily assume the legislative powers of the National Assembly which is currently in contempt of court and cannot legally pass legislation. Although the decisions were later partially annulled, the activists are hoping that the court will still be taking a greater interest in the approval of laws in the country. 

“We trust in the institutions of the country… Today we enjoy greater rights than before, when we wouldn’t have been able to even get near the Supreme Court. Now it’s normal to see trans people walking the streets with their partners… There is a cultural change, now it’s time for a legal change,” she added.  

Under Venezuela’s Law for Civil Registration, Venezuelan citizens may change their name if it is not in accordance with their gender, although the right for trans people to legally change state records in relation to their gender - for instance, on their birth certificate - is still not explicitly contemplated in Venezuelan legislation. 

Despite the legal provisions however, members of the trans community report that public servants at the CNE [National Electoral Council] and SAIME [Migration and Passport Office] have consistently failed to respond to their requests to formally change their names. 

“The problem is that institutions such as the CNE and SAIME are not obeying the law,” Richelle Briceño, lawyer and trans activist told Venezuelanalysis.

To date, not a single trans person has been able to legally change their name through state institutions, said Briceño.  

After gathering outside the TSJ, activists were invited inside the top court where they presented their appeal and met with officials for over an hour to discuss their proposal. They are hoping that the judicial body will not only publicly back their petition, meaning that state institutions are forced into action, but also provide an interpretation of the constitution and current legislation which grants them the legal right to change their gender.  

“I am very satisfied, and I’m difficult to please,” said Quintero.

According to Quintero, the Supreme Court’s Justice Commission for Gender has agreed to fully review the petition, although the activists were not given a date for when they would receive an official response.  

“This is nothing more and nothing less than our right to exist, as who we are,” said Quintero. 

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