A Light Inside
A Light Inside is an ongoing documentary project by photojournalist Danielle Villasana, explores the life-threatening challenges trans women face throughout Latin America.
Most trans women in Latin America die or are murdered before they reach 35. Latin America leads the world in homicides of transgender people (80% of global trans homicides occur in the region) and HIV prevalence among trans women is nearly 50 times higher than the general population.
The human rights violations perpetrated against trans women throughout this region are the result of toxic societal forces. The region’s highly machismo, conservative, religious and transphobic culture ostracizes and stigmatizes them, posing a serious threat to their health, social security, life expectancy and employment prospects. With few options or economic support, the majority fall into prostitution. As trans sex workers, they’re targets of disease, violence and sexual and substance abuse. Without legal protections, many cases of violence and murder go undocumented.
While the media in Latin America often paints trans women in a negative light, Villasana has focused on their personal lives with friends, family, and partners. When photographing the streets, she strives to convey the tight-knit connections between the women, the abuse by law enforcement, and the discomforts of sex work. Media focus on the sensational obscures the humanity of trans women and fuels society’s misunderstanding and judgement. “A Light Inside” strives to counter that.