ACKNOWLEDGED: Mexico surpasses U.S. in new transgender policy
2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans. Will Mexico’s new policy prevent “deadnaming?” Ga. woman speaks out.
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Mexico is on a path of change – even surpassing the United States – in one of its new transgender policies.
Transgender people – who were born in Mexico and live in the U.S. – can now change the name and gender on their birth certificates to correspond with their gender identities, by just walking into an office – something Georgia born citizens still can’t do.
When their gender marker doesn’t match their appearance, transgender people say they are subjected to discrimination, interrogation, even violence. An amended birth certificate not only acknowledges their gender identity but also offers them protection.
One of the first Mexican-born transgender women in Georgia to receive an amended birth certificate is talking only with CBS46 investigative reporter Rachel Polansky about her journey.
A decades long dream is now a reality for Aubrianna Escalera, as she receives her amended birth certificate from the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta.
“We were finally acknowledged and respected as transgender women – not only transgender women – but as women living in the United States,” said Escalera. “It’s so nice. For medical reasons, work reasons, tax purposes, it helps with everything.”
Escalera was also able to get a new passport and with it – a sense of completeness and an ownership of her identity.
The Mexican Consulate in Atlanta has already issued 23 amended birth certificates, since this policy was enacted on January 20, 2022.
“We are very proud of the steps Mexico has taken in recent years toward being progressive, toward recognizing the needs and rights of everybody,” said Javier Díaz de León, Cónsul General of México in Atlanta. “It is important to tear down barriers and to tear down preconceptions that are out there. It’s hard to imagine the difficult life someone would go through when they have a certain identity and they behave in a certain way, and they want to be recognized that way but they have a document; a passport or a birth certificate that says a different thing. That creates awkward and difficult situations every single day. Taking that away is a tremendous burden off their shoulders.”
“Me growing up, I never was around trans girls like myself. I never even knew trans girls existed like myself,” Escalera explained.
Escalera immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was a toddler – spending her childhood in Savannah, Georgia. Then, she moved to Atlanta in search of the community she never had – and she found one. “Atlanta has a large Latin community and a large Latin community within that trans community,” Escalera added.
But with those friendships have also come hardships.
CBS46 Investigates stopped by Community Estrella – a trans justice group that raises awareness and offers support for the Trans and Latinx community in Atlanta – where an altar filled with photos and candles sits front and center.
“These are the faces of transgender people whose lives were cut short in 2021,” said Li An Sanchez, who runs Community Estrella. “They are my angels.”
“We have this altar to pay our respects, to say our goodbyes,” Escalera added.
2021 was the deadliest on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people, with at least 50 deaths across the country, according to data compiled by CBS46 Investigates and the Human Rights Campaign.
Three of those deaths took place in Georgia. Bianca “Muffin” Bankz was killed in Atlanta, Sophie Vasquez was killed in Brookhaven, and Serenity Hollis was killed in Albany.
Sophie Vasquez was a friend of Escalera and Sanchez. “She was very bubbly and just her personality, it was very sweet, she was very petite, it was cute. She reminded me when I was younger,” Escalera said.
In the initial police report, Sophie Vasquez was named Juan Arrieta Vasquez, Sex: M. Officers said the reporting was “based on sex and not gender.” CBS46 Investigates was also told that “the Georgia ID provided the name and sex.” It’s called “deadnaming” – and Escalera believes that legally changing ones name and gender marker can stop it from happening.
“If I was to decease, I wouldn’t have to worry about me going through the system and being identified as just another male who passed away who indulged in women’s clothing. It’s not our life and it’s not our story, Escalera added.
Mexico vs. United States
CBS46 Investigates wanted to know how updating identity documents in Mexico, compares to the United States.
What we uncovered is it depends what state you were born in and what state you live in.
In Georgia you need proof of gender-affirming surgery or a court order- neither of which is needed under Mexico’s new rules.
Hunt went on to say that Georgia is one of the most difficult states to update your identity documents. In a survey titled ‘How Trans Friendly Is The Driver’s License Gender Marker Change Policy In Your State,’ the National Center for Transgender Equality gave Georgia an ‘F.’
Mexicans from the transgender community living in the U.S. can request an amended birth certificate at a Mexican consular office.
It’s a free and confidential process. Applicants must bring with them:
- Mexican birth certificate
- Official identification
- Two witnesses
- Minors must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians
To make an appointment, applicants should send an email with their name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org
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