My name is Dayana. I am a transsexual woman of 29 years old. I live in Cartago in Costa Rica together with a good friend, a transsexual girl of 18, who is like a sister to me. To earn money, I do sex work. Daily, I load myself up with good energy, as my life was and is very hard. Being a transsexual and a sex worker, I have to deal with a double stigma. Your family, the neighbourhood, at school, a transsexual feels attacked everywhere. It feels like no one understands how you feel. And those who say they do, I know it is not true the moment they ask me to be someone I am not. In my country, there are some laws protecting the rights of people like me, but there is also a lot of ignorance and hypocrisy related to human rights. When I am out it the streets, I often feel like a piece of meat. This somehow confuses me, and it is difficult for me to see how beautiful I am. Everywhere, I am confronted with lack of respect and bad manners. Let me give you an example. When I was studying English, two classmates complained that I was using the ladies’ bathroom. They said that I peed all over the toilette and that I should not be allowed to enter the ladies’ restroom since I was a man. They asked the authorities to ban me from their bathroom. I wondered why they wanted me to behave as a man, while I am a woman.

Sex work is what I do for a living, it is not the whole of me

Later, I had the chance to show that the accusations against me were false. Once the facilities were found in filthy conditions during my absence, I got proof that I was tidy and clean, and that being a transsexual does not mean that I will respect less what belongs to all of us. The whole situation made me feel very bad. It was not fair that, while I was doing my best to change my life and stay away from the streets, they would treat me that way. Therefore, the support I get at the local organisation CIPAC is extremely valuable to me. I work at CIPAC as a peer educator. My activist work really makes a difference for me as a person. The organisation provides me with a space where I can be heard every time I sit down there and work. Because of this job, I better know how to deal with my emotions and how to move forward in my life and work. Life is hard in the streets, but I learned to protect myself and to give myself the place I deserve. Sex work is what I do for a living, it is not the whole of me. I am a woman first.

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