In 2006, Gisberta Sales Junior, a Brazilian trans woman and a sex worker living in Porto was brutally murdered by a group of youngsters living in a youth shelter. The case has raised public awareness on the subject of social transphobia and revealed the fragile and isolated lives that transgender people endure in our country. It also inspired a biographical documentary and the poignant monologue “Gisberta”, that was showed for a whole season in several Portuguese cities. Every year, Gisberta’s memory is celebrated with numerous events, mostly promoted by trans activists.
Two years after Gisberta’s murder, Lula, another transsexual woman known to be a sex worker was discovered dead in a trash can, in unknown circumstances.
In 2011, the first gender identity law allowed transsexual adult individuals to change their gender in their legal documents and get access to the public health services in order to get their sex reassigned, putting an end to a long history of humiliation and violence against trans citizens. Nevertheless, this request still depends on a clinical mental health statement of gender dysphoria status, signed by two mental health professionals and there are strong concerns regarding sex reassignment clinical interventions, that the national health system hasn’t been able to guarantee up until now (after the retirement of Dr. Dércio Ribeiro, the sole know specialist in the field, who know performs his work in a private clinic). Given the lack of answers on behalf of public health services, many transgender people undergo risky unsupervised procedures and do self-medication. In 2015, the law also included gender identity as grounds of nondiscrimination at work.