Brazil’s Biggest Employer of Trans People Flies Its Pride Flag

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06/26/2019

With some 11,000 workers, the Guararapes Confeccoes SA is the biggest employer in Rio Grande do Norte state on Brazil’s northeast coast. In a typical month, the company hires around 100 people; during the busy holiday season, it might add eight times as many. For many residents of the capital city of Natal, it’s also their best bet: Unemployment is close to 14%. Bya Ferreira worked in the factory gatehouse for 16 months, doing triage for the human resources department. Extroverted by nature, she started basically as a volunteer, sneaking away from her official job as an apprentice in the library. Eventually, she was officially transferred to the division. Ferreira is one of about 500 transgender workers at Guararapes, a quorum that, the company says, makes it the country’s biggest employer of trans people. It’s an unusual reputation for a company anywhere, let alone in a country that recently voted by a solid margin to elect President Jair Bolsonaro, who once publicly said he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one. The company’s chairman, Flavio Rocha, identifies himself as a creationist, opposes gay marriage and, after his own presidential bid failed, threw his support to Bolsonaro.

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