A Conversation with Aruba Williams Ortiz Nájera, Mexico

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Author: 
Latin America Regional Correspondent
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NSWP’s Regional Correspndent in Latin America Ana Karen Lopez Quintana met with Aruba Williams Ortiz Nájera tells, a transgender woman, sex worker activist, and defender of human rights, gender equality, and sexual diversity. Aruba is the president of Tamaulipas Diversity Vihda Trans AC, member of the women's Committee of the National Center for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA) and representative of the Plataforma Latinoamericana de Personas que Ejercen el Trabajo Sexual Chapter Mexico (PLAPERTS). 

“It was in 2007 in Mexico City when I met Ana Karen Lopez Quintana in a Congress of HIV funded by the Global Fund in coordination with the National Center for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA). Over 10 years of activism within AC (COMAC), we have the opportunity to work together again in alliance with PLAPERTS Mexico, which is a member of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects,” said Aruba.

“In Monterrey, Nuevo Leon there is a lot of violence. We experience discrimination at a national level. Femicides are handled as crimes of passion. Being a trans woman and sex worker does not allow us to live freely and feel safe because of the lack of public policies that recognize sex work as a real job. We have a lack of security, misinformation and lack of public awareness campaigns on the issue in the trans world,” continued Aruba.

Trans sex workers are often arrested by the police, beaten in public, and humiliated by family members. In addition, trans sex workers experience discrimination from the education system and from businesses. 

“We have told the Congress of the State and the Federal Government about the need to legislate anti-discrimination laws and hate law. Hate crimes should be an aggravating factor in trans femicides. I'm transsexual woman, sex worker, defender of human rights of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGTB) and sex workers in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, my job is as worthy as any other job. At first I did it out of necessity during my process of building my identity, and as a woman empowered by the decision to keep solvency in my income sources and the full enjoyment of my sexuality, the difference is that we are exposed to criminalisation by the government following the thin line between free trade and crime. Sex work should be legalised with empowerment processes for access to comprehensive health services,” said Aruba.

“My process of empowerment has allowed me transition into different types of jobs. I am respected as a pole dancing teacher, as a clinical dermabrasion specialist, and in radio. I combine my private life with the exercise of sex work. I establish my schedule for customers, I do not practice sex work on the streets or in a place identified as such now, my clients contact me by telephone or through my social networks,” continued Aruba.

Currently Aruba is running a project for sex working trans women funded by the National Institute for Women (INMUJERES) in addition to continuing to participate in workshops and conferences related to sex workers rights.