Before Sunday’s election, Érica Malunguinho was already an inspiration to the Afro-Brazilian population. Two years ago, she founded Aparelha Luzia, a space that has become influential and important among Brazil’s Black population. And after Sunday’s election, Malunguinho made history as the first transgender woman elected to a state congress in Sao Paulo.

Malunguinho, a member of the Partido Socialismo y Libertad (PSOL), has vowed to fight for the LGBTQ community, which faces increased threats under a Jair Bolsonaro presidency. (He won the first round of votes, but will face off against Fernando Haddad in a run off on October 28.) Bolsonaro has made many homophobic statements in the past.

This year, the country saw a record breaking number of candidates with 54 trans individuals running. Barbara Aires ran because those in power do not have the interests’ of the trans community at heart. “When all you have are rich, white men discussing policies, things will never improve for the majority of people,” she said.

For Érica, part of what motivated her was the assassination of Marielle Franco, a queer Afro-Brazilian politician. “I cried a lot when I heard about Marielle’s murder,” Érica told Afropunk. “Her political project was just wiped out. It was a message to us that we should not be there fighting over our bodies and resisting genocide and racism. I had so much hate in me. At the same time, I knew I needed to take this hate and do something positive with it.”

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