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social sciences

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Transsexuals of Brazil  
 
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Trafficking

Transvestites are often sent by cafetinas in the central, north, and northeastern state capitals to their counterparts in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where they work the streets, take massive doses of hormones, and have their bodies transformed by silicone pumping, breast implants, and other plastic surgery. They are then sent to on to other cafetinas based in Europe, principally Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.

The entire process of traveling to and working in Europe is organized by the cafetinas. The transvestite typically flies to a country that is not her final destination and then enters the final destination clandestinely. Thereafter, the Brazilian cafetina's European counterpart arranges for accommodation and work, which, depending on the country or region, may be on the street or in a brothel.

Sponsor Message.

If the transvestite is unable to pay for the pumping, plastic surgery, and transport to Europe, she may be financed by the cafetinas. Effective interest rates vary, but they are always excessive.

Once the loans have been paid, the transvestite is free and is not tied to a particular cafetina structure. The transvestite who manages not to become addicted to narcotics or to be infected by HIV and to steer clear of violence stands a reasonable chance of returning to Brazil with enough money to purchase a house and a car. They frequently also send money to the same parents who rejected them.

Silicone Pumping and Plastic Surgery

Silicone pumping, by which buttocks, legs, and sometimes breasts and faces are transformed, is a staple of many transvestites' lives, especially those who engage in sex work. Some transvestites become specialists, known as bombardeiras (pumpers), in pumping industrial silicone into the bodies of other transgender people.

There are a number of adverse effects of silicone pumping, including silicone dropping down into the ankles and feet, the immune system's rejection of silicone, and the risk of silicone entering the bloodstream or vital organs.

Breast implants and facial surgery are generally performed by licensed (and also possibly unlicensed) plastic surgeons who specialize exclusively in attending transgender people.

Health and Drug Abuse

Transgender people's health is precarious not merely because of silicone pumping and massive hormone intake, but also because they often have no private health insurance, and hence are reluctant to see physicians for regular checkups or to treat chronic conditions. The general discrimination and humiliation they experience in dealing with the government bureaucracy often serves to dissuade them from seeking assistance from the public health service.

Moreover, transgender people who work as prostitutes are especially susceptible to drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection.

NGOs, Government Agencies, and the Pursuit of Rights

The deep structural social problems faced by the poor in Brazil, combined with the isolation and discrimination encountered by transgender people, conspire against their attainment of the most basic human and legal rights.

There are a number of NGOs (i.e., non-government organizations) and federal, state, and municipal government agencies that offer various forms of advice and assistance to transgender people, mostly as part of STD/AIDS prevention and assistance programs. These agencies, therefore, tend to focus on condom use and safe-sex measures rather than addressing questions of marginalization, prostitution, violence, and discrimination.

Specific government programs range from general projects aimed at increasing the sensitivity of health workers when dealing with the glbtq community and promoting education about sexual diversity and legal rights to specific programs intended to limit the damage done by silicone pumping. There are also programs that fund NGOs to work with the glbtq community to reduce vulnerability to STD/AIDS.

Many NGOs relied on funding from the U. S. government through USAID's contribution to the Brazilian Government's National AIDS Policy. In 2005, however, USAID funding was withdrawn as a result of the Brazilian Government's refusal to endorse the Bush administration's requirement that AIDS programs emphasize abstinence, faithfulness, the use of condoms only when necessary, and opposition to the decriminalization of prostitution. Brazil was the first country openly to oppose the U. S. abstinence policy, which caused it to lose a grant of $40,000,000.

Transgender Activism and the Glbtq Movement

Transgender political activism in Brazil only began in the 1990s, as a result of the AIDS epidemic, whereas gay and lesbian mobilization for equal rights dates from the 1970s. Although transgender people frequently add color and excitement to the massive Gay Pride celebrations in Brazil's major cities, they have been less successful than gay men and lesbians in winning a degree of public acceptance and legal rights.

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