Michelle Suarez has become the first transgender person to sit in Uruguay's senate, making a pledge to improve the rights of others in the trans community. On Tuesday 10 October, Suarez took her seat for the first time inside the country's upper house, representing the Communist Party.
She has made it her mission to improve the rights of transgender people in the country by increasing protections as well as pushing for a change in the law to allow people to change their legal identities without the need of a judge's approval.
Suarez, 34, said: "Uruguay has evolved, but it's still a discriminatory country." The new senator also plans to bring about new legislation that would require 1% of government jobs to be reserved for transgender people, as well as establishing a pension that could compensate for those that were persecuted during Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship.
Suarez said she knew at the age of 15 that she was a woman living in a man's body and that she has received strong support from her family, but some former classmates and colleagues have shunned her instead.
She went on to become the very first transgender woman to achieve a university law degree in Uruguay, which has a population of 3.4 million people.
Her seat in the senate is the latest in a slow revolution for transgender rights across South America, which has reacted slowly compared to North America.
In 2012, Argentina allowed people to change their legal gender identities without the need for judicial approval or psychiatric checks. And in Chile, the government has been pushing for a wider acceptance of transgender people in the community.