|A group of transvestites get ready to perform on Plaza Bolivar.|
|A poster of a transvestite says:|
'I live my life, and if you don't
like it that's your problem.'
Colombia's armed conflict has, however, worsened the AIDS problem, both because fighters can be AIDS vectors (violence against women is a continuing phenomenon in Colombia's conflict) and because victims of the conflict are more vulnerable to AIDS and other diseases.
As for transsexuals - they seem surprisingly common in Bogota, both in their own 'separate-but-equal' part of the city's central red light district, as well as in the city's parks and neighborhoods. And, of course, in Chapinero, Bogotá's gay neighborhood. Sure, many other people treat them as a spectacle, which is probably inevitable. But, at least, I haven't seen them abused or ridiculed. And, they sometimes seem to want to be a spectacle, with their often flamboyant dress and behavior, particularly during the annual Gay Rights Parade.
|A group of transvestites walk down Bogotá's Sunday Ciclovia.|
|Back on La Plaza del Chorro, a transsexual gives a pep talk.|
I was working as a journalist then, and I was interviewing a young South African transsexual who had wanted to have sex-change surgery. But how would she pay for it? She decided to travel to Bolivia, buy cocaine, and smuggle it to Europe, where the profits would pay for the surgery.
But she got searched in the La Paz airport and they found the cocaine, as well as something else which showed she was not born a woman. In court, the South African pleaded guilty: 'Judge, I confess it, I did it, I'll do the time - but please don't put me in the men's prison because God only knows what they'd do to me!'
The judge felt sorry for her and put her in the women's prison, where she was living happily with 300 women. She had decided, however, not to become a woman.
|A high-risk population: Transsexual prostitutes in Bogotá's central red light district, in the Santa Fe neighborhood.|
Colombian League Against HIV/AIDS
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours