Crime & Justice

Brazilian trans servicewoman’s 20 year legal battle with armed forces

By Alex Mirkhan and Alba Santandreu

Brasilia/Sao Paulo, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- The first trans servicewoman in Brazil has been embroiled in a 20-year legal battle with the armed forces.

Maria Luiza da Silva says she was pushed down the ranks to the reserves following her gender change.

She has been locked in a tireless legal battle since then which now seems to be coming to an end after a court ruling in her favor.

Da Silva joined the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) at the age of 18 as an aircraft engine mechanic, a job she carried out for 22 years earning the recognition of her superiors.

But her military career was cut short in 1998 when she underwent a gender change operation.

“I carried out my duties with great joy but I had something inside me since I was little that meant I felt female,” she tells Efe.

“When I started my career there was no possibility of a complete transformation but the Constitution (1988) gave me more guarantees and rights.”

When she began her transition she encountered strong resistance and was pressured to abandon the process.

She was forced to take early retirement after her surgery and was deemed incapable of military service by a medical board.

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