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Jun 6, 2016

LGBT Activist Remembers Champagne Paris

Caleb Orozco

Vanessa Champagne Paris, a member of the transgender community, first came to Orozco’s attention in April 2014 after she was badly beaten by an angry mob in Belize City. It’s hard to imagine a life of almost daily abuse, criticism and scorn, but Orozco says that is exactly what Vanessa experienced for much of her life. Today he gave us a snapshot of Vanessa’s far from ideal life as she struggled for acceptance.

 

Caleb Orozco, Activist, LGBT Community

“Many people would know that after her attack she was delivered to me and I had to make a split second decision where I would put her. And I had to pull money out of my pocket to ensure that she would have a place to lay her head. She struggled constantly to find economic employment because nobody would hire her one, based on how she looked and two, simply because of the prejudice that people came with associating a Trans person not being human. Outside of that she tried to make friends and unfortunately her life of violence doesn’t start with her introduction to Belize City. It goes back to being five and six, and she sharing with me that her feminine clothes would be burned, she would be beaten and parts of her own family would threaten her with violence if she didn’t conform to the idea of wearing pants and a shirt and being more of a man. Champagne shared with me that she would get new clothes and they would be burned for whatever reason and she would go back in search of new clothes. I remember while she was staying with me she cut the side of my bed to make padding, and that was her surviving the harsh reality that she did not have access to medical care or service support of any kind. While I was made that she destroyed my good mattress, I let it go because I understood that it was her defending her dignity when absolutely nobody else would. She worked hard at not only telling the truth but also remembering to enjoy life despite the psychological and physical violence she had gone through. I remember one taxi-driver who I’ve had for years say to me he had to chase away a bunch of fellows because they were stoning her down the street.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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