Oscar winning Chilean actress speaks of transgender inequalities

‘A Fantastic Woman’

“I have a name on my identity card that is not my name,” says Daniela Vega.

SANTIAGO – Chilean actress Daniela Vega made history by becoming the first transgender presenter at the Oscars ceremony. But, at a news conference after meeting Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet this week, she spoke of the inequalities transgender people face in her home country.

Vega said that, in Chile, “I have a name on my identity card that is not my name”. “In the country where I was born I do not have the possibility of having my own name on my official documents,” the A Fantastic Woman star said.

“The clock is running, time is passing, people are awaiting this change.”

A gender identity bill – which would allow trans people to identify themselves with their preferred names rather than their assigned ones – is currently being considered by a congressional committee. But its future is uncertain as Chile is about to have a new administration under conservative former president Sebastian Piñera who takes over from Bachelet on 11 March.

A Fantastic Woman, in which Vega plays an opera singer grieving over the death of her lover while being rejected by his family, won best foreign film at the Oscars – a first in this category for Chile.

‘A Fantastic Woman’ wins foreign language film Oscar for Chile

The film’s director Sebastián Lelio told the same news conference that they and Ms Bachelet had spoken about the “urgency” of putting in place a law on gender identity. He described his lead actress, who was originally only hired as a consultant on the film, as “a great ambassador between the film and reality”.

And he said: “Cinema has the power to be able to come out of the screen and enter social consciousness.”

For her part, Daniela Vega said that the film “talk[s] about the limits of empathy and who places barriers in the way of trans people.”

“Trans people have existed since the first day of humanity,” Vega said, adding that acceptance by society is a significant problem.–MercoPress