RIO DE JANEIRO – Photographer and community activist Cristian Lins has a gentle-looking face that stands in stark contrast with his passionate defense of human rights. At 44, he is the first female-to-male transsexual to run for public office in Brazil.
The Rio native Lins is seeking a seat in the Rio de Janeiro state legislature in the Oct. 7 elections.
While at least 53 transsexuals are running this year, Lins is the only one who was born a woman and now identifies as a man.
“We trans men are the most invisible group in the whole LGBTI community,” Lins said during an interview with EFE.
Despite this invisibility, Lins has dedicated many years of his life to work for a community characterized by its determination and tenacity.
“I represent the 1.1 percent of trans men in these elections. Being the first trans man to represent Rio residents will be a great responsibility,” he said.
Having a strong personality that suits his robust body, Lins seeks to become a lawmaker because he is “tired that nobody does anything for the LGBTI community.”
While vigorously defending equal rights and a respect for differences, Lins says he seeks to defend “the human” side of things, above anything else.
Social inequality is an issue that especially concerns him, which is why he seeks to ensure that all children and youths receive quality education and health services.
Although his family has supported him ever since he became aware of his identity, he has always felt society’s disapproval and rejection for being different.
“Trans men are condemned to not show themselves in society. It is very difficult for us to be accepted, even by trans women. The discrimination we suffer, even within the LGBTI community, is very strong,” he said.
Lins lives with his mother and one of his sisters in northern Rio de Janeiro, an area that includes middle-class neighborhoods but also poor communities whose residents lack basic services and are affected by daily violence arising from rival criminal gangs.
The Lins family is painfully familiar with the impact of crime, as Cristian’s father, a cab driver, was killed in a robbery.