by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Mexico changed a naturalization letter to a trans woman for the first time in history.

22 Mar, 2019

by Eugenia Tovar, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

We are talking about Ophelia Pastrana, a Colombian who has lived in Mexico for the last 10 years. She is a famous comedian, youtuber and LGTBI rights’ activist. She has also become the first transgender and migrant woman to change her act of naturalization in Mexico.

Her situation was somehow unusual because for almost three years Ophelia Pastrana had two different names that were used on an international and legal level. Her case was quickly picked up by LGTBI activists around the world, as it proved to be something relatable, especially within the LGTBI migrant community.

Ophelia spent a lot of her years as an immigrant in Mexico having two names. Even though she was born in Colombia -as a man- she changed her legal status in order to match it alongside her identity, so she soon became a woman under the Colombian law.
However, under Mexican -the country where she has lived over the last couple of years- she was still a man.

In her act of naturalization as a foreigner in the North American country his masculine name appeared, something that has now changed back in 2018. This process was only possible because Colombia today allows transgender people to change their name and gender. But the Mexican government also had to make changes in its migration laws to be able to complete the homologation:

For the first time, the Government of Mexico granted the change of identity in the act of naturalization of a transgender migrant person, and it has been referred to as The Ophelia Act.

She is very aware that all eyes have been placed on her and that this symbolic act helps to give visibility to all LGBTIQ people in Mexico, especially those who are also migrants, who seek recognition in their change of identity.

What’s also impressive is the fact that Ophelia had the full support of the Mexican Government, in particular from the Foreign Ministry, who wants to make this issue more visible, especially now that there is a migrant caravan that is trying to reach the United States of America, who have a huge percentage of the LGTBI community.

But not everything has been so smoothly, as Mexico is still a very conservative and machista country. It is definitely a man-orientated culture. This is also why Ophelia Pastrana is the growing face of very hard criticism -and also the image that has been used against the LGBTI community in Mexico - especially circulated by the Mexican Council of the Family, where it has been said that Trans women did not exist in the first place.

And even though Mexico City, Michoacán and Nayarit have already placed state laws for sex gender reassignment in civil registry documents, there is still a long way to go in the rest of Mexico. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many laws have been changed, if the same macho mentality remains. Moreover, in the rest of the 29 States, this procedure can not be carried out yet.

Last June, Forbes magazine named Ophelia -for the second consecutive year- one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Mexico. This year, in addition to the double naturalization, the BBC selected her as one of the most inspiring and influential women in the world, a distinction that made her the first transsexual woman to appear on that list. The appointment was given for his talent as a comedian and for his influence on social networks.