Jessica "Jessie" Eva / Venezuela
“On october 4, 2021, I was detained, interrogated and searched by the security guards of a supermarket called Forum, located in the Los Próceres shopping center (south of Caracas, Venezuela), for being trans.
I went into the store to ask about the prices of soy milk because my doctor has asked me for a treatment in which I cannot consume dairy. I was walking around for a while, looking at prices for everything, until I decided to leave. As I go to the exit, I am stopped by the market security guards to search my bag, like everyone else. However, I noticed that they looked at me strangely. I got nervous. When they did not see anything in my bag, they asked me to accompany them.
They took me to a nearby door that seemed to lead to a warehouse, and they told me they had to do a “body search.” I did not understand why exactly they had detained me, but I did not tell them anything because I was afraid and I left them.
A man touches my entire body, including my breasts and genitals, above my clothes. He made me feel horribly uncomfortable. As he did so, he asked me questioningly: “Are you a man or a woman?” I got very nervous, and started to stutter. Seeing him, the boy pressed even more, and with a more serious tone: “Man or woman? It is simple. Everyone is male or female”.
I didn’t know what to say, and after a few seconds I said “man” because I was afraid that if I said “woman” they would start asking more questions or holding me back for longer. Then he said, “See? That was all”. I felt pretty dirty doing it, really. When he finished, the guard added: “Sorry we did it, but your attitude and your appearance seemed very strange to me.” I had no attitude. I had not said anything. I had not done anything. When he said “appearance” he pointed to my outfit and it was obvious what he meant.
When leaving, I felt very bad. I really wanted to cry. They never said “we do it because you are trans”, but it was evident from their gestures, words and actions that they were. And it made me relive a moment of non-consensual sexual advances (abuse) that I had years ago.
It was quite a sad experience. I’m already getting used to street harassment and transphobic comments. But you don’t expect to go through something like that on a “professional” site. Or rather, it’s the last place you wait for it.
Recently I was the victim of a theft by some landlords of most of my things and of a very important money that I was saving to emigrate. The landladies argued that if I denounced “nothing would happen because there is no law for trans people in this country.” And they also once referred to me as “a fucking transsexual fag”.
Both experiences have been quite strong for me, especially the last one. And I’m still in that process of recovering emotionally, mentally, and financially from both of them. I thought I could share them with you.”
In Venezuela, LGBTI people have no protection. In a country where lesbophobia, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia still prevail, there are no regulations that prohibit incitement to hatred based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Article 21 of the Constitution, which establishes that “all persons are equal before the law”, does not expressly include the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It only prohibits those “based on race, sex, creed, and social status.” And although in 2008 the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) clarified in Resolution No. 190 that “it is not possible, within the Venezuelan constitutional framework, individual discrimination based on the sexual orientation of the person,” it does not made reference to discrimination based on gender identity.
According to Transgender Europe, from 2008 to September 2017, 116 trans people were killed in the country.
On June 13, 2021, a 33-year-old trans woman named Andrea was murdered in Santa Cruz del Este, Baruta, Miranda state. The victim was found dismembered and her body was abandoned on public roads in a case that reflects exacerbated violence.
The Observatory of Murdered Trans Persons (@TransRespect) has identified Venezuela as the third most violent country in the region with 126 murders – of which there is a record – from 2008 to January 2020, being surpassed only by Brazil and Colombia.”