Diane Rodriguez: Breaking New Ground and Making History

Published: January 30, 2014

As the David Kato Vision & Voice Award begins to celebrate its third year, we continue to receive hundreds of nominations of phenomenal activists for LGBTI rights around the world. With the announcement of this 2014 winner coming up on February 14th at the renowned Teddy Awards in Berlin, we are honored to introduce you to the 5 incredible people who have been shortlisted for this year’s award.

This week we are thrilled to present Diane Rodriguez from Ecuador. For the past 18 years Rodriguez has fearlessly fought for LGBTI inclusion and equality in Ecuador. She has overcome stigma and discrimination to make Ecuadorian history as the first transgender person to legally change her name, setting a legal precedent. She is prepared to continue fighting for LGBTI rights until they are fully recognized in Ecuador and across the globe. 

Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano is one of Ecuador’s leading human rights activists. She has worked relentlessly for LGBTI rights over the past 18 years and now acts as the director of Silueta X Asociación, an advocacy group that fights for transgender rights in Ecuador. Diane Rodriguez incorporates a trans-feminist ideology into all of her work, integrating transgender discourses with feminist discourses and boldly critiquing capitalism, consumerism, and patriarchal constructs. 
In 2008 Diane Rodríguez founded Silueta X Asociación, a community-based advocacy organization that she continues to lead today. Since its inception, Silueta X has become one the most prominent organizations in Ecuador, providing a platform where Diane Rodríguez works with other community members to promote respect for transgender human rights and improve access to health services.
In 2009 Diane Rodríguez broke new ground in Ecuador after being told by her local registry office that she could not legally change her name from male to female. She sued the Civil Registry in February of that year, citing the anti-discrimination passages in Article 2 of Ecuador’s new constitution.  Diane Rodriguez took the case to the Office of the Ombudsman, which in turn took it up with the director of the National Registry Office. This resulted in Diane Rodriguez and four other members of Silueta X receiving new identity cards within a week of the appeal. Thanks to the precedent set by this case, any female or male transgender person can now legally change their name in Ecuador. Although allowed a legal name change, transgender people are still not allowed an identification card indicating their proper gender identity. Diane continues to run campaigns to fight for transgender people to legally change their gender.
In 2011 Diane Rodriguez won a “Pride and Diversity” award at the “Iberoamerican Summit of Young Leaders” in Cancun, Mexico.  In 2012, she represented Ecuador at the “Women Deliver” Satellite Session at two consecutive International AIDS Conferences in Mexico City and Washington, D.C. In 2013, Diane Rodriguez represented Ecuador at the “Conference against Homophobia,” as a prelude to the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
Diane Rodriguez is the first transgender person to ever enroll at the University of Guayaquil. She is currently studying psychology and is a member of the University’s Scientific Group of Faculty. She has lectured at various institutions over the years such as the San Francisco and Quito Polytechnic, University of Cuenca, Universidad Casa Grande de Guayaquil, and Guayaquil University. She emerged as an important figure in Ecuadorian politics when she made history by becoming the first transgender person to vie for a Congressional seat in the leftist Ruptura 25 party during Equador’s presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013. 
Diane Rodriguez continues her struggle for equality as outspoken activist and director of Silueta X. Her achievements are an example to admire in the international struggle for LGBTI justice and women’s rights.
You can find more information about Diane Rodriguez and her advocacy work at the following links:

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