“We were excluded from public policy”, says LGBTQIA secretary

Transvestite from Pará Symmy Larrat was appointed yesterday (24) to the National Secretariat for the Rights of LGBTQIA+ People, of the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship. This will be the activist’s second passage through the federal administration in less than 10 years.

The scenario she found, however, is totally different from the one she worked in the first time, between 2015 and 2016, when she took over the General Coordination for the Promotion of LGBT Rights of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. The acronym LGBTQIA+ includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people, among other categories.

“We had a continuation of a period of expansion of public policy”, he recalls in an interview with Brazil Agency, at Trans Visibility Week. “Today, we arrive at a scenario of scorched earth, in which we [população LGBTQIA+] was outlawed by public policy”.

The secretary claims that even the data available on Dial 100, a service that receives reports of human rights violations, show the invisibility of the LGBTQIA+ population – an “erasure” that, according to her, also occurred in areas such as the promotion of culture. “We don’t have much information, because we were erased”.


The National LGBTQIA+ Secretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, Symmy Larrat.

National LGBTQIA+ Secretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, Symmy Larrat. – Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brazil

The first transvestite to occupy a position in the second echelon of the federal government, Simmy Larrat claims to feel a certain discomfort with being a pioneer – an example, according to her, that there is still a long way to go for the inclusion of trans people in prestigious spaces.

“Saying that it is the first demarcation, but it is not something very comfortable for us. It hurts to say that we are the first”, recognizes her, who was also the first transvestite to preside over the Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites, Transsexuals and Intersex (ABGLT), after she left the federal government.

After the 2022 election, Symmy collaborated with the Transitional Cabinet’s Human Rights Technical Group. The final report on the subject accused the previous government of “revisionism of the historical and civilizing significance of human rights”, in addition to restricting social participation and low budget execution, which culminated, among other problems, in the discontinuity of policies for the population LGBTQIA+.

Since the last 20th, the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship (MDHC) has promoted the virtual campaign “Build to Rebuild” in order to mark the week of Trans Visibility Day, celebrated in Brazil on January 29th. The action, which has Simmy Larrat as spokesperson, takes place on social networks and has a series of publications highlighting legal advances at the national level, in addition to international examples of reference for Brazil. January 29 was chosen to remember a mobilization that took place in 2004, in the Chamber of Deputies, for the “Travesti e Respect” campaign, which led to an unprecedented act of transgender people in the National Congress.

Check out the main excerpts from the interview given by the secretary to Brazil Agency:

Brazil Agency: What is the portrait of the situation you found when you arrived at the federal government?
Simmy Larrat: We went through a process of a lot of invisibility. And what we find is this. We don’t have much information, because we were erased from the scenario. What we are doing is planning what we can build in terms of public policies, based on what we understand as the visibility of this population.

Brazil Agency: How would you compare the situation you found in your other passage through the federal government with the scenario today?
Simmy: We had a continuation of a period of expansion of public policy. But I was also coordinator in a period of much persecution. A coup was already being prepared in this country. Today, we arrive at a scenario of scorched earth, in which we were excluded from public policy. But, even with this moral persecution from the field of hate, we have a feeling that we can move forward, because we come in a scenario of broad political composition, of resumption of democracy in the country.

Brazil Agency: Is the office still under construction? How is this work?
Simmy: We are in a moment of composition. Unlike other secretariats, we are a secretariat that did not exist. Our team is still being named. Legally, there was a deadline that we had to wait. New structures take time to actually exist in the Esplanada system. We went through a period of a lot of planning and we are still in the planning stage, but our team is starting to arrive. Today [ontem] I was even named with the official name of the secretariat.

Brazil Agency: What will be the secretary’s first step?
Simmy: The first step is to plan and identify in depth where we were erased, to resume and plan how to do that. Now, there are some emergencies that we are identifying since the transition, which is the resumption of social participation, which is something that is already under way. We hope to have the resumption of the National Council [dos Direitos das Pessoas LGBTQIA+] in the coming days, and the elaboration of the regulations necessary for the implementation of the STF decision on homotransphobia, which, in our view, are emergency in this process. These are very latent demands that we need to address in the next period, and we are already building the necessary bridges for this to happen.

Brazil Agency: Does the board already have its composition defined?
Simmy: The council is not published with the names, but the decree of the constitution of the council is published. Even because we are constituting a new council, we are not going back to what we used to be. We will expand the scope of the council. We constitute a council that, even in its name, brings together the LGBTQIA+. It is no longer just combating discrimination. It’s advice that will completely come out of the closet.

Brazil Agency: Will regulations on homotransphobia guide the fight against this crime?
Simmy: The government has to say how the federation units have to act. We have to say how the service is, how the typification is, what fields must exist in the complaint. They are normative in the field of care, the system, the investigation, which referrals have to be given. It is an orientation for us to achieve this, in the structure of public security and justice. The federal government has to give guidance to the entire security system in the country.

Brazil Agency: The greatest achievements of the LGBQTIA+ population in Brazil took place through the Judiciary. How can the Executive branch strengthen these achievements and guarantee them from possible attacks?
Simmy: The main decisions of the Supreme Court [Supremo Tribunal Federal] happened during this period, especially the permission to rectify the name and gender [2018] and the criminalization of homotransphobia [2019]. First, the government of that period was against it. And, second, he did not create in his area of ​​responsibility the ways for this to happen. Our posture has to be right there. If there is the criminalization of homotransphobia, our management role is to say how it will be implemented. To date, there has been no regulation that explains to the states how they should do it. Just like in the rectification, there was no dialogue with the justice system for us to say how we are going to be able to promote the population’s access to this service. It is in this place that we want to act.

Brazil Agency: The cost and bureaucracy for rectification are constant complaints from the trans population. Is a way to make the process easier being discussed?
Simmy: We have to start a dialogue. The regulation was made exclusively by the National Council of Justice. Our role is to dialogue with this system, because that is the responsibility of another power. What we can think about is how to facilitate people’s access to these demands and requirements. And that’s what we’re going to do. So, we are going to establish a dialogue with the justice system to understand how we can make things easier. And there are other things that can be done via the Executive: if we look at the social assistance network, we know that there is exemption for certain documents, and this is not being accessed by the transgender population. So, we have to discuss these two aspects.

Brazil Agency: What was the damage caused by this deletion of the LGBTQIA+ population in the area of ​​culture and what can be done to reverse this?
Simmy: The damage is gigantic, because it is culture and education that manage to bring about a change, a societal dispute. It is through these elements. For us, it was a huge loss not to be occupying this space. But some strategies I find interesting: the first is the resumption of social participation in all these areas. Culture had an LGBTQIA+ technical committee, which helped, within the structure of the ministries, to identify where we could advance, collaborate and exist. And the other is the change in the conduct of this process. When we see a minister like Margareth Menezes, who has always campaigned against violence against the LGBTQIA+ population during the Carnival period, we are confident that this attitude will be changed very soon.

Brazil Agency: There is a constant concern of activists and researchers about the mental health of the LGBTQIA+ population. Is this one of the priority points?
Simmy: Mental health has always been a very important topic, but it is a topic that has to be addressed across the board. When we talk about culture, we are also talking about mental health, for example. And with regard to cutting-edge care, I think we have to resume investment in some areas that served in the field of mental health, such as the transsexualization process, the return of investment in reception centers for the LGBTQIA+ population, and debate the care of the population in all health spaces. Debating in the field of health is debating integral health, in all aspects of health, including mental health.

Brazil Agency: What message would you like your pioneering spirit, as the first trans person to occupy a position in the second echelon of the federal government, to leave for the transsexual population?
Simmy: First, people have to know that when we are the first, we only say this speech to demarcate a place. I, particularly, would like for us not to be the only ones, and for us not to occupy only the LGBTQIA+ folders. I want our guidelines to occupy all the other spaces. I want that, in a few years, we start to realize that we are no longer the first or the only one, but rather several in this place. To say that it is the first demarcation, but it is not something very comfortable for us. It hurts to say that we are the first. We need to promote an occupation of these people in different places, so that we look back and recognize the first one, but see that there are many of us in these places. This is where we want to get to.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News