- Daniel Pardo
- BBC Mundo correspondent in Colombia
Mike Nicolás Durán, a jovial 30-year-old from Bogotá living in Medellín, was the first Colombian to be identified as a transsexual person in the civil registry.
After a two-year legal odyssey that counted on the advice of Alejandro Diez and Manuela Gómez, lawyers of the diverse sexuality group of the EAFIT university legal office, on May 7 of this year Mike celebrated the T in the registration as who was won the lottery.
Now, however, he is on the eve of knowing if he won his last battle: that his ID also identifies him with a T.
“I am neither a man nor a woman, I am trans and I need my identity card to say so so that my integrity and dignity are respected,” he tells BBC Mundo.
The trans gender in identity documents already exists in countries such as Chile, Mexico and Argentina. “But in Colombia, which is the country where they ask for your ID for everything, it was pending,” says Durán.
Juli Salamanca, from the Red Comunitaria Trans foundation, celebrates Mike’s case as “a political triumph for the trans movement, a step towards equal rightss “, but he adds that” the challenge is to move from the symbolic to the material, because its implementation (for everyone) will be a test for the institutions “.
Mike Nicolás spent two years calling, sending letters and filing documents; He filed two legal actions – known as guardianships – that he had to challenge and insisted in every possible way that his non-binary gender be recognized in his identity documents.
He knows that the fight is not just for his own good.
In Colombia they ask for an ID for everything, from for enter a building even a bank.
Me too, every time I go to a bank, I arrive with the fear of whether they will treat me or not, pOr because every time I show my ID, people look at me like a freak, (as if thinking): “ACá says you are a woman, but you look like a man“.
So yes or yes you have to change your ID when you make a gender transition.
Because, in my case, placing an M is not right either, because if a policeman wants to search me, for example, I have to put up with him touching my genitals.
Then pTo protect my integrity and dignity, an M or an F on the ID does not work: I need the T.
You never finish getting to know yourself: every day you learn new things. And as I got to know myself, I realized that non-binaries exist, that you can be a man with a woman’s body or a woman with a man’s body without having to take hormones or drinking.
That is to say: there is no correct way to be or not to be, because diversity is something that cannot be enclosed in a single circle.
This is how I found out from that, if science recognizes me as a trans person, why doesn’t the State do it?
A 2015 decree gave trans people the ability to change the reference to their gender in their documents, but obstacles in the bureaucratic process have prevented the law from being enforced.
In addition, the T was not typified in the system of the National Registry of Civil Status and, in Mike’s case, several times they told lawyers that they could not change an entire national registry system for one person.
“We have to continue doing an oversight so that the institutions recognize the implications of the T in the birth registration in areas such as health, education, military service, among others,” says Salamanca, the trans activist.
Something that I like about myself now is my voice, because it is not so feminine or so masculine. Sometimes it is a little more one and sometimes more the other. This it is the diversity that I like and represent me.
For us there is nothing more important that they recognize and identify us as we are: not as men who are now women or women who are now men, but as trans people, period.
Mike was born in Bogotá under the name of Eliana Mayerli. There she had her first child at age 15, then had another two and spent 11 years with their father.
Since he was a child he has had a brain disease and another in the eyes. And she says that it was because of that, in addition to her gender transition process, that she left the job she dedicated herself to for a decade: surveillance.
Hoy estudy inglHe is on a scholarship with the intention of going to live in Canada and has a wife: Linda María Cáceres, a stylist met her almost at the time she started taking hormones, in 2019.
Cáceres, as well as the EAFIT lawyers, has been a key accompaniment throughout the process and has insisted on continuing to fight for their rights despite all legal and health obstacles.
I spent 11 years living a life that maybe I did not want, because I was hiding my own identity, hto the point that it exploded and the depression began to win over me. LI came to think that I wanted to commit suicide.
That, I thought, could cause problems for my children, and that’s why seven years I made the decision to go to Medellín.
As soon as I got here, I came out as a lesbian. People stopped calling me Eliana and a new person named Mayerli appeared.
But as time went by I realized that I liked the masculine more, a more brusque style, more like a boy.
And my partner at the time, a woman, told me not to cut my hair. But I overcame self love, I cut my hair and started a new life with the name of Mike Nicolás.
When I wanted to tell my children about my transition and the possibility of having the surgeries, the oldest told me that he already knew that I wanted to be a man. Told me that era normal, because all people change.
That was the most important impetus for making the decision to change.
For a hysterectomy – surgery to remove the uterus – and a mastectomy that removes breast tissue, Durán did not pay a peso, thanks to the fact that son treatments includeds in your healthcare provider’s package.
In Colombia, as well as in several Latin American countries, the law requires public health entities to provide sex change services, including hormonal treatment.
Mike, despite having to fight against the bureaucracy, managed to make his transition in just a couple of years and without having to pay.
The social pressure to keep my life as it was was very strong: they told me that I was beautiful, that mine was a psychiatric problem, that I was possessed, that this was a work of Satan.
They have told me so many things that if I were weak, I would have hurt myself or backed down. I say that is why many trans people commit suicide.
But in the end I was getting a taste, a flavor, that people would look at me as the weirdo on the street, because I feel original, I feel different.
I no longer have a problem with being told that I am crazy, that I am demonized, because that is the way for people to educate themselves and understand that trans people are part of society.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.