Erica and Jorge have been together for 16 years and tied the knot on Sunday in the Brazilian municipality of Franco da Rocha, near São Paulo. But theirs was no conventional wedding.
Jorge was described on Buzzfeed Brasil as a cisgender man, while Erica uses female pronouns and is identified as a “travesti,” a gender expression that is common to cultures in South America that denotes a person “who has subverted the gender norms forced upon them before birth,” and “doesn’t accept existing strictly in the two single categories of male or female” as Brazilian LGBT+ activist Sofia Favero explained to NBC News.
The couples worked as scavengers, collecting as many as 400 kilos of recyclable materials every day in their cart, and was well-known locally.
Erica first confided her dream of getting married to Jorge in a conversation to Valeria Rodrigues, the director of Instituto Nice, a local non-governmental organisation devoted to “the social and professional integration and the promotion of the citizenship of Transexuals, Travestis, Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals throughout Brazil.”
“I asked [her], ‘What is your dream? Tell us, I feel powerless to not be able to do something for an equal,” Rodrigues told Brazilian news outlet Estadao, recalling her first chat with Erica. “She said, ‘My dream is to marry because I feel that I will not last long and I’m afraid my companion will be helpless and, if we marry, he can at least be assured of a corner for him to rest,'” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues helped Erica record a public appeal in June to make her dream come true. A campaign spread on social media and received enthusiastic support from the local community, with various shops and companies pledging their services or donations to help the couple.
A lawyer took care of the paperwork required to have Erica legally change her name and gender—Brazil has only recently removed the requirement of psychological evaluation and surgical procedures to change the legal gender—and the local authority Prefeitura de Franco da Rocha pledged its support. The Prefeitura’s Facebook page documented the big event, scheduled for July 22 on the stage of the local Pride event in a public park, via a series of live videos.
A radiant Erica dressed in a white gown and a golden crown, was seen arriving in a luxury car followed by supporters waving a giant rainbow flag. She then stepped on a red carpet escorted down the isle by some hunky-looking people as a band played Felix Mendelssohn’s wedding march, finally reaching her beau, looking classy in a fresh haircut and blue suit, white shirt and matching bow tie.
“What would life be without love,” the local authority wrote captioning a picture of the couple’s first kiss.
Here’s a video of their first kiss as a married couple. May they live happily ever after!