A church-led initiative shelters trans women in Buenos Aires’ slums

Text and video by Ángel Sastre, photography by Maria Pirsch.

The recent words of Pope Francis about same-sex civil unions in a documentary, which were later nuanced, have opened the debate. However, some churches have long supported LGBT communities suffering from abuse and stigma.

In Argentina, where the Pope comes from, a church-led initiative provides safe places for transgender people who are victims of discrimination or abuse. Some of these shelters are located in villas, the slums of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, and others in different provinces of the country. Argentina was also a pioneer in the fight for the rights of trans people by passing the Argentine Gender Identity Law in 2012, which allows trans people to be treated according to their self-perceived identity and registered so in their identification documents.

Outriders visited Casa Animi, a shelter in Buenos Aines, where transgender people who are drug users or suffered abuses are supported in recovery, legal issues and with suitable housing and work. “I went through a lot of ugly things on the street, and they helped me,” says Angie, one of the residents and a victim of sex traffic when she was young. “If you look at Jesus' journey at the Holy Gospel, his friends were the ones that nobody wanted, prostitutes, tax collectors, the lepers,” says Father Facundo, at Virgen de los Milagros de Caacupé church in 21-24 slum. “This is the raw gospel,” agrees Gabriela Vázquez, coordinator of the Animi shelter.


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