Ecuador votes with freedom

For the first time the transgender population decided their desired gender to vote on Sunday.

Fears of discrimination were evident. Voters sometimes preferred to send their siblings to wait in line until they were close to receiving ballots, according to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

"This year everything was different," Mite said, adding that public officials and fellow voters were more aware of their situation.

After years of lobbying by the LGBT community and opposition by Catholics, Ecuador passed a law last year allowing people to choose a gender on their identity card.

"This is important because we are vindicating our rights, it has not been easy," said Congress activist and candidate Diane Rodriguez, after voting in the city of Guayaquil near the Pacific coast.

It is estimated that 200 people in the Andean country of 16.5 million people have changed their gender on their ID card since the law was approved, he added.

Rodríguez, a 34-year-old psychologist who was born biologically man, is struggling to become the first transgender legislator in Sunday's general elections in Ecuador, where the parliament will also be renewed.

If elected deputy, she will work alongside the ruling party to combat discrimination against transgender workers, the legalization of gay marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Rodríguez's potential election would follow Venezuela who elected its first transgender legislator in 2015, Tamara Adrian.

Adrian strongly opposes the Venezuelan socialist government, an ally of the Ecuadorian president, but Rodriguez says the two are close despite being politically opposed.

"She's a fight partner," Rodriguez said. "Beyond being in a right-wing movement, we are joined by the advancement of rights."

So in the end this past Sunday was a historical day for Ecuador, because for the first time the LGTB community was able to vote freely and without law discrimination.

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