Gender identity remains a global topical matter, and while sodomy is listed in Trinidad and Tobago law as a criminal offence, our twin-island republic has not always shown tolerance for gender fluidity.
This has raised interesting questions about equality and self-expression for those who identify as transgender. Trans people particularly, continue to experience economic, physical, sexual violence, and other human rights violations based on their gender identity and expression.
With deeply embedded societal and religious norms, attitudes tend to have a much greater impact on the daily lives of LGBTQ people, where the legal framework does not include any opportunities through which a person can change his or her sexual identity.
This candid exclusive IzzSo interview with Ms. Brandy Rodriguez, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Transgender Coalition, she shares her experience and challenges as a Transgender woman living in Trinidad and Tobago’s society.
To hear her story, click below:
Being a sexual minority in the Caribbean can be often fraught with invisibility, dehumanization, and toxic homophobic culture. This exclusion seems to start with the lack of legal recognition of gender identity and makes it difficult for them to have access to the healthcare systems and formal work.
In the region, trans persons cannot get their gender identity recognized on their personal documents. In the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, Suriname and Barbados, they can change the name on some documents but not their gender marker. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, they cannot adapt their personal documents to their gender identity.
Although international and regional resolutions call for the legal protection of transgender people, many Caribbean countries still do not meet these obligations to respect, promote, and fulfill trans women’s human rights. Rather these governments are seemingly slow to enact and enforce anti-discrimination and gender-affirming laws and policies. Many local activists and civil society organizations continue to be at the forefront of efforts to advance the rights of LGBT people in Trinidad and Tobago, including by challenging discriminatory laws and exposing human rights violations.