BBC News reports:
Meet one of South America’s most high-profile transgender families.
“We don’t have a name yet – or rather we do – we are just waiting to announce it,” Diane tells me, not looking up from tapping at her mobile phone with her perfectly manicured false nails. The choice will be controversial and she and her partner want to wait until everything has calmed down.
It’s Pride Week in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. I’m driving Diane Rodriguez, her partner Fernando and their six-week-old baby – known affectionately for now only as Caraote – which means “the snail”. Tomorrow is the big march and they are whizzing around town finalising paperwork for their float.
Diane and Fernando are South America’s most high-profile transgender couple. For many, they are a symbol of growing tolerance in the region.
The couple met on Facebook after Diane – born as Luis – spent hours scrolling through profiles, looking for the same thing many women desire in a partner: someone to support her career (as an activist), but also to have a family with. She met Fernando, who is also transgender.
In their case, neither Fernando nor Diane has had gender reassignment surgery. That meant they could conceive a baby like any other couple – without any medical intervention.
We sit in the car waiting for Diane to emerge from yet another official’s office. Fernando – who was born Maria in Venezuela – tells me of their whirlwind romance as “the snail” sleeps on. “I was on a bus to Ecuador days after we started chatting online,” Fernando smiles. “After three weeks living together, I was pregnant,” he tells me.
Ecuador is a polarised society to bring a child into as a transgender parent. While there is great social change going on, there is also great opposition to that change – and it can be violently expressed.
Diane herself has been abducted several times. The scruffy downtown offices of her organisation, Silueta X, are monitored by CCTV for safety.
Yet activists like Diane are happy to have a high profile because they feel it helps educate the public. During Fernando’s pregnancy, the couple published a startling video clip on Facebook – of a doctor, telling Fernando not to forget he is a woman. The video was shared widely and the hospital apologised.
Being “out” – that is, publicly recognised as trans – is not something Diane has a problem with these days. But it has been a painful journey. There have been spells of prostitution and estrangement from her family, but despite that Diane’s current status as a pin-up activist is one she positively cultivates. Posed photos of her, wearing her signature body-shaping corsets alongside Fernando’s boy-band good looks, are constantly posted on the multiple social media accounts they run. And they garner thousands of likes.