Argentina has proven to be a leader when it comes to protecting and expanding the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in their country. It was the first country in Latin America to not only legalize same-sex marriage but to give same-sex couples the right to adopt, as well as the first country in the world to let people change their gender on legal documents without requiring the permission of a doctor or judge. However, they are not stopping there.
In June, the country passed a new law establishing a one percent quota for transgender people employed in the public sector, which means that one percent of all public sector jobs should be held by trans people.
In an interview with NPR, Argentinian reporter Daniel Politi explains that what sets this diversity quota apart from others “is that the requirements to get the jobs will be slightly different. For example, education requirements that are minimums to get certain public sector jobs may not be considered for this population,” he says. “Also, things like criminal records can be excused… So, there’s a certain leeway… to recognize that the trans population has lived hardships that maybe did not allow them to get the same kind of education and the same kind of experience in the workforce than other workers.”
He also goes on to explain that the decision to go with one percent “is largely symbolic. There is no real accounting for how many transgender people there are in Argentina. And the one percent figure was a way to symbolize that they’re going to be part of the government. They’re part of society.”
For the trans community in Argentina, the passing of this law is seen as “a step of dignity… the entry into the workforce [is a] way to lead a better life.” In Argentina, the average life expectancy for trans people is only 41 years old, and as many as 90 percent of the trans population has never had a formal job.
“A lot of trans people, especially trans women, are forced to go into prostitution. And these sort of initiatives that will give them access to public sector jobs will be able to change their lives.” According to Politi, the response from the trans community has been one of hope and progress. “This is the start of a new era for us where we’ll be more visible,” Politi says, relaying the words of trans people that he has spoken to about the one percent quota.
Hopefully, other governments will follow suit and help uplift the marginalized identities and silenced voices so that we can shape a more accepting and diverse future that benefits from the collaboration of all.