Michelle Suarez became Uruguay's first transgender senator Tuesday, vowing to use her position to expand and protect the rights of transgender people in the South American country.
The 34-year-old lawmaker representing the Communist Party assumed her seat in the upper chamber of congress, where she intends to push a law that would let transgender people change their legal identities without having to get a judge's approval.
It would also mandate that 1 percent of government jobs be reserved for transgender people and establish a pension to compensate transgender people who were persecuted during Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship.
"Uruguay has evolved, but it's still a discriminatory country," Suarez told the Associated Press.
Previously, as an activist, she helped draft a bill that legalized gay marriage when it became law in 2013.
In an AP interview, Suarez said she was 15 when she acknowledged that she was a woman living in a male body. She added that her parents have always been supportive, but some classmates and teachers discriminated against her growing up.