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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Mexican Transgender Protest March Rescheduled

Visitors from Tijuana march anyway

[TECATE, MEXICO] - The planned transgender protest march Nov. 5 in Tecate, Mexico, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 11:30 a.m.

In an e-mail sent seven hours after the march was scheduled to begin, the Tecate Gay Rainbow Community Group gave no reason for postponing the event but promised the rescheduled procession would be worth the wait.

While voters in the U.S. were heading to the polls, reporters from San Diego, Tijuana and Los Angeles arrived in Tecate at the appointed hour Nov. 5 only to find no one to interview except city officials who said they had nothing to do with the postponement and that they welcome demonstrations.

"All the journalists are comment-ing that the city must have had something to do with the march not taking place today," said City Hall spokesperson Roberto Rodrguez. "We are not against any kind of demonstration. We heard through extra official channels that it will be next week."

However, it turned out there was a small march Nov. 5 after all ? two and a half hours after the original starting time ? when 35 gays and transgender individuals who arrived late from Tijuana refused to leave without marching. They were joined by 12 people from Tecate. The reporter and photographer from the Gay and Lesbian Times and many of the other journalists had left Tecate by that time.

Both the small Nov. 5 march and the bigger march planned for Nov. 12 are responses to Article 34.15 of the city's "Police and Good Governance Act," passed by the city council Oct. 21. It criminalizes any "man dressed as a woman who transits in the public way causing social perturbation."

City Hall's Rodrguez stressed that the new regulation is not anti- gay. It is concerned, he said, only with the poor image that is created when transgender individuals come downtown and engage in rude and crude behavior.

"This whole thing has been misinterpreted," Rodrguez said. "This is not a regulation against gays or homosexuals. The sexual contact of every person for us is intimate and free. I want to be very clear about this. We are not against homosexuals, we're not against lesbians, we're not against gays.

"This regulation speaks specifically to a man dressed as a woman transiting in the public way causing a social perturbation. It has to do with public image, nothing else.

It's a matter of the image of the city. They are bothering people, with words and gestures and actions."

Rodrguez continued: "Tecate is a little city of 125,000 inhabitants. We all have gay and lesbian friends. I personally have gay friends. There is no discrimination against them. This is just a question of image. In San Francisco, there is Castro Street, a street of the gay community. Three weeks ago some friends of mine went into a bar on Castro Street but they didn't know they were in a gay bar until someone told them, because the gays and lesbians were dressed in accord with their physicality. They were creating a good image."

Rodrguez said transvestites are free to walk around Tecate if they do not cause social perturbation, but Mayor Juan Vargas Rodrguez told the local weekly, The Newspaper of Tecate, in its Nov. 2 edition, that even transgender citizens who do not "upset public order" will be arrested.

The punishment for violating Article 34.15 is arrest and a fine equal to 40 days' salary at the national minimum wage. That would be about $152.

Three of Tecate's 12 city councilors voted against the crossdressing ban and told The Newspaper of Tecate the ordinance violates the Mexican constitution's individual-rights guarantees.

The Police and Good Governance Act, of which Tecate's Article 34.15 is one small section, is a statewide initiative that also is under consideration in Baja California Norte's other four cities ? Ensenada, Mexicali, Tijuana and Rosarito.

On Nov. 4, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Tijuana city "council members pledged this week not to enact the [anti- transgender portion of the act] after some threatened to publicize the names of [public] officials who have solicited gay prostitutes."

Tecate is 42 miles southeast of San Diego via state highway 94. It is known for its typically Mexican downtown plaza, wineries, ranches and the famous Tecate brewery, which has a beer garden and offers tours.

To get to the Nov. 12 march, leave San Diego by car no later than 9:30 a.m., drive to the small town of Tecate, Calif., park on the U.S. side of the border, walk into Mexico, proceed downhill to the central square, turn right on Benito Juarez street and walk eight blocks west to the small park that contains a statue of a mother holding a baby ("El Monumento a la Madre"), about 100 yards beyond the Red Cross headquarters.

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