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Bogotá's Trans Community Sees Rise in Violence

Bogota health workers check residents for virus

Transgender people in Bogotá, Colombia, are facing hate crimes because of the city’s policy of allowing men and women out on alternate days to do essential errands during the global shutdown, according to local activists.

City officials said there would be safeguards in place for the trans population, but a Colombian advocacy group has documented at least 20 instances of violence against trans people in Bogotá grocery stores during the lockdown and says there have undoubtedly been many more crimes, The Guardian reports.

Under the policy, announced last month by Bogotá Mayor Claudia López, women are to go out on even-numbered days and men on odd-numbered ones in order to limit the number of people leaving their homes. City leaders said trans people could go out according to their gender identity and would not be asked to prove their gender.

But Red Comunitaria Trans, a Colombian organization for trans and nonbinary people, reports the setup has resulted in violent incidents; for instance, a trans woman was beaten for being out grocery shopping on the day designated for women. Police have also attacked trans women in the city’s Santa Fe neighborhood, which has a high concentration of sex workers, Juli Salamanca of Red Comunitaria Trans told The Guardian.

“Every day in Bogotá there are incidents of violence against trans people and there are hundreds of incidents that have gone unpunished,” she said. “This [policy] puts the trans community in the hands of its main aggressor — the police — who have historically abused, tortured, and killed trans people.”

Now, she added, “people in supermarkets, banks, and society in general” are taking a cue from the police and telling trans people they can’t be in certain places “because they don’t conform to the stereotype of what is a man or woman.” The sex-segregation policy “is reinforcing prejudices, not only on the streets but in everyday speech and on social media,” she added.

Her organization has called for an end to the regulations; Peru rescinded a similar policy due to violence against LGBTQ+ people, especially trans people. Bogotá’s policy is set to expire Monday but could be extended.

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