Chilean voters, who went to the polls this Sunday (21), raised the first transgender woman to the country’s Chamber of Deputies. Emilia Schneider, 25, was elected with around 14,500 votes for district 10, formed by six communes in the capital Santiago.
A law student at the University of Chile, she is part of the left-wing Comunes party, one of the four that, together with the Communist Party, make up the Apruebo Dignidad alliance of presidential candidate Gabriel Boric. With 3.28% of the votes, the party elected six candidates for the Chamber, but did not win seats in the Senate.
The elected deputy has become known over the past few years by participating in a series of social mobilizations that have transformed the country’s recent history. As a university student, she was at the forefront of the wave of feminist protests that took to the streets in May 2018 and was also active in the mega-protests that, a year later, demanded and won the call for a plebiscite to formulate a new Constitution.
Today a pioneer in being the first trans woman elected to the Chilean Parliament, Schneider was also the first transgender person to preside over the Federation of Students of the University of Chile (FECh), created in 1906 and the first transgender organization in Latin America. Gabriel Boric, who graduated from the law course at the same institution, also chaired the FECh.
The student is the great-granddaughter of René Schneider (1913 – 1970), commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army at the time of the election of socialist Salvador Allende. The general, who was assassinated in 1970, was known for defending the non-interference of the Armed Forces in institutional politics, and his death generated national commotion.
On social media, the elected deputy celebrated her victory. “On the one hand, hatred advances. On the other, there is hope,” he wrote, referring to the fact that ultra-rightist José Antonio Kast went into the second round along with Boric, from the left. Kast, among other points, defends the regime of Augusto Pinochet — a period he refuses to call a dictatorship.
Among the proposals he presented during the election race, Schneider has an extensive list aimed at women, children and the LGBTQIA+ population. Policies aimed at reproductive rights, such as legalizing abortion, are among the priorities.
The Chilean also stated that, if elected, she would join other parliamentarians in pressing for more support for the Constituent Assembly. Prioritizing the processing of matters relating to the formulation of the new Constitution is one of the measures among its proposals.
The strengthening of public education, stimulating discussions on sex education in schools, as well as the reformulation of the private pension system in the country, a recurrent agenda in popular protests, are also part of the program presented by Schneider.
In an interview with local radio ADN after the release of the official results, the elected deputy said that, when she takes the seat, she will prioritize the push for measures to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic — 38.1 thousand Chileans died of the disease, and about 83% of the population has a complete vaccination schedule.
Schneider said that while she is happy on the one hand, she is also worried about the advance of hate speech, “which takes advantage of fear.” “We are living with different visions, but the sectors that believe that we all deserve more rights and dignity are in the majority,” he declared.
The Chilean stated that a possible election of Kast would represent a setback for women and the LGBTQIA+ population. “With [Donald] Trump, in the United States, e [Jair] Bolsonaro, Brazil, we have seen an increase in hateful attacks against our community,” she said. “Our dignity as women has been put at risk.”
Clearly opposed to the right to abortion, Kast, then a deputy, was one of the most active parliamentarians against the enactment of the Gender Identity Law, which in 2018 allowed trans people to update data such as the name and sex with which they were registered at birth .