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  • Writer's pictureR. Gurley

The Invisible Life and Death of Paraguayan Trans Women.

Interview with Yren Rotela, sexual revolution icon, trans woman, human rights activist and LGTBQ civil rights activist in Paraguay.

In 2006 the Paraguayan congress promulgated the law Nº 5.777/16 of “INTEGRAL PROTECTION TOWARDS WOMEN, AGAINST ALL KIND OF VIOLENCE” in response to the alarming figures of intrafamily violence, work and street harassment, child pregnancy, rape and femicide. During 2018 there has been over 50 femicides in Paraguay, which means one woman dies every week, usually after being raped and tortured.

To this terrifying reality we add the numbers on child pregnancy, based on girls from 10 to 14 years old (with many cases of younger girls), revealing (at least) a 60% increase in comparison with the last decade. This means that two girls give birth per day, placing the country in the second place of early pregnancy in America, according to the statistics of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA).

In an ultra-conservative and mainly catholic country, this problematic remains a taboo where the main subjects to fight femicide are still left aside. When we talk about integral sexual education, gender equality, legal abortion for rape victims, contraceptive methods and the eradication of violence we found ourselves fighting against a strong reject from the older generations, children of the ex-dictatorship, who have a high and alarming tolerance to the abuse of power, to the intrafamily abuse and the macho behavior, so normalized in Latin-American societies. A patriarchal attitude product of cultural backwardness, capable of killing, but unable to accept its responsibility in the current problem.

A nation where, in many aspects, women are still considered second class citizens and the LGTBQ community doesn’t have basic civil rights. Where discrimination is not punishable by law, celebrating retrograde thinking, allowing violence to be normalized. In this scenario, femicides of sex workers, especially trans women, daily victims of patriarchal abuse, are absent in both legislation and statistics. People who are constantly exposed to all kinds of abuse ranging from harassment, through violations, serious physical attacks, to death. Assassinations that remain unpunished, thanks to the total indifference of the police forces, which refuse to receive complaints from the victims because of their sexual orientation and are rather in collusion with the mechanisms of abuse. A hypocrisy typical of a traditionalist society that condemns the trans person for being a sex worker, regardless of the number of people who come to the use of this service; service that these workers provide almost exclusively for lack of other opportunities in life.

To discuss this reality we have invited the iconic and controversial Yren Rotela, human rights activist, civil rights defender of the LGTBQ population, indefatigable fighter for the eradication of violence, founding member of the association Panambi (Association of transvestites, transsexual and transgender) in force since 2008, victim and survivor of almost all abuses that one could imagine since her childhood; to be able to put into perspective what it means to be a trans woman in Paraguay, a situation radically different from what other transgender people experience in the world. As well as to make visible the disturbing situation of violence of the trans sex workers and the femicides that were unjustly forgotten by the Paraguayan state, where the LGTBQ community remains invisible.

"To help the trans community to achieve their goals, civil rights and to support trans homeless people please contact We encourage you to give donations, home appliances and furniture to this young iniciative. All help is welcome."

To listen to Yren Rotela’s complete interview with Carolina Ronquillo, be sure to subscribe to

For more interviews on inspirational women around the globe, please subscribe to where we may have been raised in different houses, but we are sisters in the end.

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