South America’s macho culture, combined with the strong influence of the Catholic church, means it is a particularly difficult place to be a transgender woman like Salamanca. In the past eight years, 74% of all reported murders of trans people were in Central and South America, according to a 2016 report from Transgender Europe (TGEU). Due to violence, poverty and the risk of HIV, the life expectancy for trans women in Latin America is estimated at between 35 and 41 years.
Is it actually the trans bit that matters here?
But prejudices are hard to overcome. When she was attacked, Salamanca was working in the sex industry, where trans people are particularly vulnerable (65% of those murdered worldwide were sex workers, according to the TGEU report). Yet prostitution is one of only two jobs – along with hairdressing – available to most trans women in Colombia. Those who end up in sex work are mostly in Santa Fe, the notorious barrio on the eastern edge of Bogotá.
There’s rather a lot of weight on that idea that they can only get this job, isn’t there?
For streetwalker prostitution in one of the already most violent slums/barrios in the world is going to be a dangerous thing to be doing.
Thus being presented with the murder rate for trans-prossies doesn’t tell us much unless we also know the murder rate for prossies more generally.