Lohana Berkins is an Argentine transvestite activist, and a recipient of the 2003 Felipa de Souza Award for LGBT civil rights activism from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). She is also a prominent member of the Communist Party of Argentina.
Berkins was thrown out of her family's home at 13 and began working as a sex worker to survive. She spent about nine years of her life in prison, but none of her arrests were for prostitution, which is not a crime in Argentina. Instead, laws criminalize behavior that creates a "public scandal." These laws are commonly applied arbitrarily to crack down on transsexuals, gay men and lesbians.
In her adult life in Buenos Aires, where she has lived since she was 18, Berkins has organized prisoners, prostitutes, transsexuals, feminists, gay men, lesbians and poor youth to fight against brutal repression, including arrests, torture, rape, and death. In 1995 she helped found the Argentine Transvestite Association, a major force behind a law reform that since 1997 has curbed some of the worst of these abuses.
In 1994 she founded ALITT (Asociacion Lucha por la Identidad Travesti y Transexual/Association Fighting for Transvestite Identity) with the goal of educating and politicizing transvestites struggling with poverty and unemployment.
ALITT ~ Astraea.org
The Felipa de Souza Award ~ IGLHRC.org
Entrevista a Lohana Berkins - Hay que revolucionar el cuerpo (in Spanish)
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