While Brazil is in the midst of a very contentious presidential election, there is some good coming out of the country politically. This good comes in the form of Érica Malunguinho.
On Monday, 8 October, activist Érica Malunguinho made history as the first trans woman to win a spot in state congress in São Paulo.
Malunguinho was one of more than 50 trans people running for office during the 8 October election.
Who is Érica Malunguinho?
According to AfroPunk, the 36-year-old was raised by a single mother in a small household with her extended family. She was surrounded by a lot of African and Indigenous culture growing up. Her mom was the only educated member of the family and worked as a nurse to support everyone.
‘We all knew we were Black, but when you’re Black in Brazil, you also suffer racism within the family,’ Malunguinho told AfroPunk. ‘We were always comparing who had the widest nose, or the nappiest hair.’
Soon after finishing high school, Malunguinho moved to São Paulo and began living as a woman.
‘I was always trans. I was living a gay life and a trans life at the same time.’
Over the next decade, Malunguinho earned several degrees and was married twice. Formerly an educator, she is now working to fight Brazil’s racism in the political sphere.
In 2016, she opened Aparelha Luzia, an urban community space created for black people to celebrate their culture and heritage.
‘[Malunguinho] wanted to create a cultural space in São Paulo where black people could freely celebrate their blackness and maintain the longevity of black culture while feeling protected,’ writes Kiratiana Freelon for OkayAfrica.
‘The space hosts events almost every night of the week: intellectual get-togethers, hip-hop battle session, black kids playdates, everything. More than 200,000 people have passed through its doors.’
Why it matters
‘Malunguinho’s win is a major milestone for Brazil’s black and LGBTQ communities,’ writes Damola Durosomo for OkayAfrica. ‘Her win is seen as a source of hope for minority groups in the country who fear their rights are under threat by highly controversial candidates like Bolsonaro, who won the first round of votes on Monday and who many consider “a risk to democracy.”’