Rubí Araujo, The First Transgender City Council Member in Mexico
By Jade Arroyo
Rubí Suárez Araujo became the first transgender city council member in this country on March 10, 2016. Deputy for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in the State of Guanajuato. She replaced Deputy Julio César García Sánchez, who has asked for time off after being criminally charged with beating his ex-girlfriend.
“I am proud to be the first member of a council openly accepting my sexual preference and to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, making this a watershed in the political and social life of the State of Guanajuato. I call for overcoming taboos and focusing on the right to work to serve the public,” Suárez stated.
Visibility and representation in public office is a big step for the LGBTQ community toward gaining ground on equal rights, doing away with labels, and finally ending discrimination.
In her first speech, she called on State Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez and local deputies to legislate in favor of the gay community, recognize its rights and obligations as members of society, and support equal marriage in Guanajuato State.
During her swearing-in ceremony, members of the LGBTQ community waved a rainbow flag outside City Hall.
Nine years ago, Rubí began to work for the gay community following a hate crime directed at a friend in Guanajuato City. She founded a civil association called Colectivo Rubí in defense of human rights of the gay community that provided consulting, sex education, and strategies for preventing violence. Subsequent to her activism, she was invited to become a member of the PRD, which led to becoming a council member.
“Since I can remember, I knew there was a woman inside me, but I did not express myself because of [fear of] social rejection. At twelve I decided to come out as a woman.”
Rubí says that the process of acceptance by her family was very painful. It took several years, but finally she got the support of her parents and siblings. She believes that the support and affection of family is basic in the development of an individual.
Suárez asked the other 15 council members to vote to allow her to legally become Rubí, not the name on her birth certificate. “I want to bring a proposal to the Council,k” she argued before its members. “My legal name is registered as José Luis, but I am a transgender woman, so I would like to legally be known as Rubí.”
Mayor Edgar Castro Cerrillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) submitted the proposal to a vote, and it was unanimously approved. Rubí pointed out that in the Civil Registry her name still appears as José Luis, but it is in the process of being legally changed to Rubí.
One of her strongest political platforms is to update the name change process, so that all transgender people can freely choose their names, a cornerstone in the development of identity. “I will fight for all transgender women to be able to change their names because it is a nationwide problem,” she said.
She affirmed that she will work on behalf of vulnerable groups and urges the state legislature to vote to ensure the collective rights of sexual diversity. “I am proud to be a representative of the LGTBQ community. This is a turning point in the political life of Guanajuato State, and I know that I have a great responsibility. I invite everyone to join in breaking gender paradigms and to focus on doing work for the common good,” concluded the 29 year-old councilor.