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Maria Luiza case comes to an end after 20 years of legal dispute with FAB

Even with an exemplary curriculum, the transsexual Maria Luiza Silva was prevented from continuing her military service because she was considered "incapable"; Final decision of the Justice recognizes that the action was discriminatory

Hellen Leite

Almost 20 years after the beginning of an arduous legal dispute, the legal battle between Maria Luiza da Silva, 59, and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) came to an end. The decision of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) recognized that the soldier suffered discrimination when she was compulsorily retired in the 2000s. She is the first transsexual in the FAB and, even with an exemplary curriculum, was removed from her duties because she was considered "unable" to military service by an organ medical board. The decision on May 23 was signed by Minister Herman Benjamin and was celebrated by Maria Luiza. "It is important for me, but also for society, because it addresses the issue of rights, of non-discrimination. This strengthens the individual rights of each person, democracy and the country", he comments.

In the judgment, the minister highlighted the illegality of the FAB's action and confirmed Maria Luiza's right to remain in the functional property she occupies, in Cruzeiro Novo, until full retirement is implemented for the last post of the military career in the ranks. That is, although she was removed from service as a corporal, she must retire as a warrant officer, since "the opportunity to advance in her career has been taken away from her". Maria Luiza's lawyer, Luiz Max Telesca, points out that the final decision on the case comes at a good time. "This process means the definitive affirmation that gender cannot be discriminatory. It is very salutary that Brazilian law continues to confirm human rights and rights to sexual diversity", he celebrates.

FAB's first transsexual

Maria Luiza was born José Carlos, but she never recognized herself as a man, which brought enormous disruptions to her military career. In 2000, when he was a corporal in the Air Force, the opinion of the High Command came, which diagnosed her as ;unable, definitely, for military service;, but ;not invalid, totally or permanently incapable of any work;. Maria says that from the beginning she was cornered and threatened by superiors. "I was pressured to give up the sex change process, I was prevented from wearing the uniform, talking about it is still sensitive to me today," she says. Even with the victory in court, the cable cries when remembering the last 20 years. Since then, Maria has tried several times to return to her occupation, aircraft mechanics. "At first I had a lot of hope that they would understand my love for the profession and my desire to continue working, but they wouldn't let me," he says. Over the 20 years, the Union has appealed in the cases involving Maria Luiza at least ten times. She won them all, in both instances. In 2010, judge Hamilton de Sá Dantas, from 21; Federal Court, ordered the Air Force to reinstate Maria Luiza. Even if in the reserve, with pay equal to that of the military never retired. Cable, however, did not return to active duty because of age. He was already 49 years old. The period of service, 30 years, standard adopted in the Armed Forces, had already elapsed.

Sitting in front of a wall with diplomas and medals of honor for good work done for the country, she says that, despite everything, she is still proud to be a soldier. "For me, the military activity was my dream, it always gave me a lot of happiness. Even today I go there to visit and remember, it was, and still is, a job that I admire very much", he concludes.

Film and reports

The Correio has followed the case of Maria Luiza since the beginning. In the 2000s, journalist Marcelo Abreu narrated the story of the military in a series of reports. In 2019, a documentary was released to remember the history of cable. Directed by Marcelo Díaz, the film has 80 minutes and was shown at the Brasilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, which took place in November last year, and at festivals in Holland, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and the United States. The film is even mentioned in the judgment of minister Herman Benjamin as part of the contribution to the outcome of the case. "I believe that Maria Luiza deserves recognition for the soldier she is, not for the soldier she was. It will be amazing if, in the future, she is recognized as a person who distinguished herself by the high qualification of the service she provided and that she could be providing to the country", says Marcelo Díaz. The work would be in theaters at this time, but had the premiere postponed because of the pandemic of the new coronavirus. It will soon be available for streaming. "I believe that the film brings an affectionate and inclusive look. Like other Marias Luizas, there is an immense variety of people who end up not having the chance to have a minimally fair life", she comments. "May this encourage the subject to be discussed, not specifically from the point of view of suffering, but of the right. Right to be whoever you want to be", he concludes.

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