School gives hope to tranvestites in Argentina

School gives hope to tranvestites in Argentina

Buenos Aires - For years they have been excluded from mainstream education and often condemned to a life of prostitution, but Buenos Aires has now opened a school for young transvestites and transsexuals.

Mocha Celis, which hosts 40 students on the fifth floor of an abandoned railway building in the Chacarita commercial neighborhood, will see its first class in December next year.

With courses tailored so as not to clash with the transvestite or transsexual lifestyle, the idea that the young people earn the equivalent of a high school diploma before they enter the workforce.

Since most of the students prostitute themselves at night and catch some sleep in the morning, classes take place in the afternoon, taught by volunteer teachers.

Daniela Mercado, 27, is determined to catch up on lost time.

A transvestite, Mercado left her native city of Mendoza at the age of 13. Her father had beat her severely when he discovered she was gay.

"I would have preferred to have a son who steals or takes drugs," he had told Mercado the day she left home.

He prevents her from seeing her brothers, out of concern she would "infect" them with her homosexuality.

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