One of South America's leading transgender activists has announced that her boyfriend is pregnant with her child.
Diane Rodriguez, a trailblazer in Ecuador's LGBT community, made the announcement this week on Facebook, calling her boyfriend Fernando Machado's pregnancy "one of the biggest blessings life has given us."
She says their pregnancy is helping to shatter "patriarchal norms" and move the chains in a society where "transsexuality is viewed as the strangest type of diversity in the LGBT" community.
"Some people are for this and some are against it, but that doesn't make us uncomfortable. We knew that would happen and we were prepared because our goal is to shake the moral foundation in Ecuador and other countries," Rodriguez told me. "What people need to understand is that our love is bearing fruit in the form of a child. We have wanted this effusively, and now it's a reality."
This isn't Rodriguez's first time being a first. The 33-year-old activist made national headlines in 2013 as the first transgender candidate to run for Congress in Ecuador (she didn't win). She set another milestone in 2014 when she and then-boyfriend Nicolas Guamanquispe became the first trans couple to officially register their civil union, which ultimately lasted less than one year. Now Rodriguez is again in the role of pioneer, and again facing the difficulties and discrimination that entails.
Prenatal care has become an early challenge for her 22-year-old boyfriend. Rodriguez says Machado "felt mistreated by the nurses because of his masculine appearance and pregnancy." The doctor who performed the ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy told Machado to "always remember that he is a woman."
At the end of the day, Rodriguez says, the struggle is to visibilize transsexual rights as human rights.
"Issues for homosexuals have been advancing in Ecuador as they have in the United States, but the issue of transsexuality is still taboo. Transsexual people are still fighting for basic things, like the right not to be killed. Hate crimes against transexuals in Ecuador are as common as they are in the United States," she says. "I think that's what we have to work on. If we have achieved rights for homosexuals, now in the moment to concern ourselves with the rights of transsexuals."