The Intersection of Transgender Rights and Evangelical Conservative Activism in Brazil


Hatched by Thati

Jun 30, 2024

4 min read


The Intersection of Transgender Rights and Evangelical Conservative Activism in Brazil


In recent years, Brazil has witnessed a significant rise in the visibility of transgender individuals and the emergence of conservative evangelical activism. These two seemingly unrelated issues have intersected to shape the political, social, and cultural landscape of the country. This article explores the common points between the transgender community and evangelical conservative activism, highlighting the challenges faced by transgender individuals and the strategies employed by conservative evangelicals. Additionally, it delves into the implications of this intersection for public policy and offers actionable advice for fostering inclusivity and understanding.

Transgender Population in Brazil:

Recent research indicates that approximately 2% of the Brazilian adult population identifies as transgender or non-binary, amounting to around 3 million individuals. The majority of those surveyed were transvestites and transgender women (70%), primarily single (70%), black (57%), and with a high school education or below (51%). Many transgender individuals face discrimination and prejudice, leading them to drop out of school before completing their basic education. Furthermore, a significant proportion (58%) engage in informal or self-employed work without long-term contracts. These statistics highlight the challenges faced by the transgender community in terms of education, employment, and social acceptance.

Conservative Evangelical Political Activism:

On the other side of the spectrum, conservative evangelical political activism has gained momentum in Brazil. This movement perceives secularism and progressive values as threats to their religious beliefs and traditional family values. They resist the pluralization of society, advancements of feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, human rights policies, and judicial decisions related to sexual and reproductive rights. Moreover, they seek to establish cultural, social, and political hegemony by expanding their religious influence and occupying positions in the government, parliament, judiciary, and media. This activism is fueled by a desire to defend the "Christian majority" and their institutional interests.

Intersection and Conflicts:

As conservative evangelicals intensified their engagement in issues such as abortion, sexuality, family arrangements, human rights, and educational and health policies, conflicts with leftist governments, feminists, LGBTQ+ individuals, and human rights advocates escalated. The first term of President Dilma Rousseff's administration marked a turning point, leading to a deeper divide between evangelicals and the left. The election of Congressman Marco Feliciano as the president of the Human Rights and Minorities Commission further strained the relationship between evangelicals and the government. The opposition to Feliciano and his supporters further polarized the country, reinforcing the evangelical right-leaning inclination and their aversion to the left.

The Rise of Bolsonaro and Evangelical Support:

The presidential election of 2018, amid economic recession, the Lava-Jato corruption scandal, and the decline of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, saw the majority of evangelical leaders supporting the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro over the leftist candidate. This support was backed by strategies involving spiritual warfare doctrines, conspiracy theories, fake news, and misinformation. With Bolsonaro's victory, conservative evangelicals gained significant political power, occupying key ministerial positions and influential roles within the government. This alliance between Bolsonaro and the evangelical right shaped policies related to women, family, human rights, education, and religion.

Implications and Actionable Advice:

The intersection of transgender rights and evangelical conservative activism in Brazil has far-reaching implications for society and public policy. It underscores the urgent need for inclusive and informed decision-making. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to foster inclusivity and understanding:

  • 1. Education and Awareness: Implement comprehensive educational programs that promote acceptance, respect, and understanding of gender diversity and LGBTQ+ rights. This should be integrated into school curricula and professional training for educators and healthcare providers.
  • 2. Advocacy and Support: Establish support networks and organizations that provide assistance, resources, and legal aid to transgender individuals. Collaborate with community leaders, government agencies, and NGOs to create safe spaces and combat discrimination.
  • 3. Dialogue and Engagement: Foster open and respectful dialogue between transgender individuals and conservative evangelical communities. Encourage interfaith dialogue that promotes empathy, tolerance, and cooperation, bridging the gap between different religious beliefs and LGBTQ+ rights.


The intersection of transgender rights and evangelical conservative activism in Brazil has shaped the political and social landscape of the country. Understanding the challenges faced by transgender individuals and the strategies employed by conservative evangelicals is crucial for promoting inclusivity and informed public policy. By prioritizing education, advocacy, support, dialogue, and engagement, Brazil can move closer to a society that respects and embraces the diversity of its population.

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