Social Issues

Discrimination and struggle: the life of a transgender man in El Salvador

By Sara Acosta

San Salvador, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- Between the ages of five and six, Aldo Peña began to realize that something was “not right.”

“I did not carry out the role assigned to a woman,” the 36-year-old Salvadoran transgender man says when asked about his story, marked by much discrimination and struggle.

“I did not want to play with other girls or with things that people told me were for girls. I was more inclined towards boys’ things, always in every aspect,” Peña tells EFE.

Being transgender means that a person’s gender identity does not correspond to their biological sex, explains Peña, who has suffered discrimination in his home, neighborhood and workplace, and also survived police violence. He is an empowered person willing to continue defending his rights and those of his family and friends.

The Salvadoran began hormone therapy six years ago and currently works as a municipal officer.


Aldo’s family life wasn’t easy. His mother did not accept his behavior and his father left him and his two brothers when they were young.

“The problem began when I reached the development stage. My body began to develop in a way that I did not want – my breasts began to grow, to form a more feminine body (…) From there my problems to hide all that began,” he says.

To this day, he says “I have never talked to my mother about this (being a trans man) because what is in sight does not require an explanation. Now she has accepted me and our relationship is different.”


Peña says he first heard the word transgender from some trans women he met in a meeting, and from that moment he began to investigate more about the subject.

These women were also the ones who informed him about the hormone therapy process.

To begin the process, he says, “there are specific tests: checking testosterone levels to see how much one needs, weight, height and a lot of other things. But due to lack of financial resources, I did not get them.”

Six years ago he decided to inject himself with testosterone without any medical supervision, so he has not had “a controlled hormonal process and it is not the right one.”

In “our madness or despair we begin to take hormones in an irresponsible way. Yes, I accept it, it is an irresponsible way. I should not be doing it that way – I should have an endocrinologist,” he points out.

The process involves exams, at first every three months, then every six months and then every year, but “this involves a lot of money,” he says.

“I do not know if I am administering the correct dose, I do not know if I need more or less. This is damaging my kidneys, liver, heart, the blood becomes thicker therefore the arteries can clog. It increases the possibility of cancer in the womb, the ovaries, and all those parts typically characterized by women. I know it and I’m aware,” he says.


Peña’s transition from female to male is not all that he has had to deal with. In 2015, he says he was a victim of abuse by officers of the National Civil Police, who beat him until he was unconscious.

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