Today I want to share with you some experiences that I have had in my life…
20 May 2000
About 8 at night, Astrid, and another friend and I walked on a street in Guatemala City, when a man who was driving in a van shouted from his window, yelling homophobic, transphobic and degrading words to my friend Astrid. She was walking ahead of us, and answered him verbally. The man stopped his car, got out, and again shouted these degrading words against Astrid. He then drew a gun and shot her multiple times. The other friend and I were paralyzed to see what happened and to hear the shots. The man turned to us and pointed with the firearm. We shouted and threw ourselves to the ground. The man got into his car and left. Astrid fell to the ground and ripped her blouse. We rushed to try to help her, and she asked us to take off her clothes because it stung her chest and stomach. She was bathed in blood, and while my other friend helped her by holding her head, I ran to a public telephone and called the ambulance, which took her to the hospital. We went with her to the hospital and waited. Two hours later a doctor came out and told us that Astrid had died due to the seriousness of her wounds.
17 June 2006
It was a Saturday, about 4 p.m. I received a call from my friend Barbara to invite me to go to a club in Guatemala City. At that time I had no interest in going out and we agreed to meet another day for lunch or a coffee together. She and her other friends left the club at around 11 p.m. and a group of drunken boys who were outside harassed her. She was very beautiful and attractive. One of the men invited her to continue drinking, physically harassing her and trying to kiss her. She refused and left with her friends in a taxi. The other men told his friend that Barbara was a Trans girl and that it was a shame that a man dressed as a woman had rejected him. The man followed them in his car, and when Barbara and her friends arrived at their destination and got out of the taxi, he shot at them repeatedly, wounding the other Trans girls who were there. One of the bullets entered Barbara on one side under the arm. I received a phone call with the news, because while she was conscious and being helped into an ambulance, she asked to speak with me. I rushed to the hospital and from the outside I could see them carrying her in, her body half naked on the stretcher, her face turned looking outwards, as if she were looking at me. I saw her from the outside and I grabbed hold of the iron mesh. I cried and whispered strongly: please don’t go friend, don’t leave, don’t leave me alone. I looked up at the sky and I asked God not to take her. When her body was taken by the doctors, I begged them to let me in and talk to her, but they didn’t allow me to. 30 minutes later, one of the doctors came out and told me that Barbara had died. The bullet that penetrated her body was expansive and had exploded inside, destroying her vital organs. Time later I knew who her murderer was. Sometimes I wonder if that was what she wanted to tell me, or if she just wanted to say goodbye?
10 October 2006
Three men entered the house where I lived with my partner, they killed him, and with verbal aggressions asked me if I was the man or if I was the woman in the relationship, while they were touching my whole body, then they beat me and broke three ribs, after that they tortured me by cutting my skin because they said it did not matter how beautiful and feminine I was, because they were going to show me how ugly I was without skin, in the end they raped me, shot me with a gun and maybe thinking I was dead, they threw my body in an empty space on the edge of a ravine, I woke up a few days later in a hospital where I spent about 4 months recovering and 3 months more to be able to walk properly again. Maybe it was the first time that I thanked God for being alive.
I was born in Guatemala Central America 30 years ago, and just because I am a Transgender woman, I spent approximately 20 years of my life dealing with the prejudices, discrimination and transphobia, resulting from the lack of laws that would protect our lives and our human rights. This is typical in Latin America and in most countries worldwide where governments ignore the call of institutions and international governments to establish laws on issues of equality, human rights, and protection of life, arguing that they will not allow international interference (Note that Brazil and Mexico are the countries with the highest rate of transgender murders). I remember that on 2 occasions the police arrested my friends and me, and imprisoned us just for being Trans women. From that moment and from the first murder of my friends because of transphobia, the fear and shame made me always hide my gender identity and live in solitude, because the average maximum life for a transgender woman in Guatemala is 25 years because annually from 8 to 12 Trans people are murderer in the country. With great effort, I tried to survive and subsist in subhuman conditions in Guatemalan society. When I reported the facts to the authorities, they blamed me to provoking the attacks, for being the victim, justifying that I was to blame for being a man dressed as a beautiful woman, which is most certainly a stupid and sexist justification of a society that is highly ignorant, conservative, and fanatical. After being a victim of an assassination attempt for the second time in 2015, and spending months living from one place to another, hidden to protect my life, I could not put up with anymore and I was forced to escape from Guatemala on the 28th of December 2016. The people that would supposedly help me to seek help abroad, deceived me, and I was a victim of human trafficking. I remember well when I refused to do what they wanted, and one of my captors told me that when I stopped serving them as merchandise, they would kill me, open my body, remove all my organs to sell them and then throw my body where nobody would find it. Day after day those words resonated in my head. That helped me to be brave, and thanks to the help of 2 people, I managed to escape on the 4th of February 2017. Since then I live in the UK as a refugee, under humanitarian protection. That means that, thank God, all is not lost and that there is still a hope.
My name is Sasha Taylor, I am a Transgender woman and I am a survivor.
And although those events and many others that marked my life forever, happened a few years ago, I still remember everything as if it had happened yesterday, but I decided that I will fight with courage, love and respect for myself and for others to live freely and to live a dignified life like every human being. The struggle is for everyone because we have the responsibility for humanity not to be silent or indifferent. And education and information are the greatest weapons we have to fight and eradicate ignorance, prejudice, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia and absences of laws that are ending with the lives of human beings who only want to live in total freedom and with their own identity. Because at this precise moment that we are here, there in Guatemala, in Latin America and in many other countries in the world, a Trans person is being murdered. And only you and I are their voices.