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


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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