Andrés Ignacio Rivera Duarte is a transsexual man native to Chile. He serves on the LGBTI of Chile as an activist for human rights. “Since childhood, I felt different. I liked to play men’s games. If we played house, I was always the father. I wasn’t attracted to women’s games,” shares Andrés, who lived a double life for 39 years and is now a Chair for the Organization of Transsexuals for Dignity of Diversity. Andrés experienced a lot of emotional turmoil in coming to grips with his identity “the paint I experienced tore at my soul until I had no strength to live, I felt worthless as a person and as a professional, cowardly hiding in alcohol and loneliness. I fell into a great depression and attempted suicide”.
Thankfully, Ignacio’s attempt was not a success. Though it is unclear what cause his change of heart, it is known that he was discriminated against and lost his job due to his trans identity, then began a landmark lawsuit, bringing the issues of transgender people into the public view. He embraced his identity and went to battle on behalf of the Trans* community in Chile and the LGBTI, not hesitating to fight for the freedoms of everyone involved, he says “it is a worthy fight, where we seek only the dignity of human beings. No royalties or exceptions, only demand our rights as anyone else”. He is a winner of the 2008 Felipa de Souza Award (which recognizines the courage and effectiveness of groups or leaders dedicated to improving human rights for LGBTI and others who are stigmatized based on sexuality or HIV status).
In 2005 Ignacio founded Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad, the first NGO in Chile dedicated to fighting for trans people’s rights, which he currently heads. He has worked with the government and the local health system to facilitate the evaluation, treatment and surgery of trans people, and organized the first Rancagua debate on the Civil Union Pact. But his work is not just with high-level officials, he also provides direct support to sex workers, visiting them nightly to distribute coffee, food and information on HIV/AIDS.