Argentina’s LGBT + community divided over bank’s trans hiring quota

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MEXICO CITY (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A pledge from Argentina’s largest bank to hire transgender workers has sparked a backlash from some LGBT + rights groups who argue that hiring should favor trans women who face higher rates of violence than trans men.

State-owned Banco Nacion announced last week that it would seek to have 1% of its workforce made up of transgender people, as part of a deal with the banking sector union, Asociacion Bancaria.

The vow is the latest sign of progress for LGBT + rights and acceptance in Argentina, which in 2010 became the first nation in South America to legalize same-sex marriage.

But when local media reported that the first person hired under the program was a trans man with a political background, some activists accused the state bank of favoring a privileged male candidate over a trans woman.

More than 60 rights organizations signed an open letter saying that hiring a trans man was “a travesty of the agonizing need” faced by trans women.

“Trans men can experience violence, but they don’t experience the structural violence that trans women experience in Latin America,” said Lara Bertolini, a trans activist.

“We are not even on the fringes of poverty and the most vulnerable social categories – we are outside of these margins.”

Trans people face endemic abuse in this predominantly Catholic country, with six in 10 transgender Argentines suffering from social discrimination, according to a 2014 study by advocacy groups ATTTA and Fundacion Huesped.

Before 2012, half of trans women said they had been physically assaulted and 40% reported sexual abuse by security forces, according to the study.

In 2012, Argentina joined a handful of countries that allow trans people to change their gender designation on official identification documents without physical or psychological testing.

The trans man in question, Thomas Casavieja, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the reaction was misleading.

“It’s a misconception that we have a better time in life than other trans people … that’s not the reality,” said Casavieja, whose family rejected him from their home when he was 8 years old.

He said he had been unemployed for nine months and had not received a formal offer from Banco Nacion, where the trans quota has yet to be officially implemented.

Once launched, the bank plans to hire around 17 trans people each year until the quota is met, he added.

Casavieja said trans people will go through the same hiring process as other applicants, but without discrimination.

“There won’t be any kind of interview barrier to being a trans person,” he said. “This is already a huge step forward and a huge joy for our entire community.”

Several bills are under consideration in Argentina to guarantee employment opportunities for trans people across the country.

Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; edited by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org


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