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In Chile's Transgender Circus, Performers Have A Refuge From Discrimination

Associated Press photographer Luis Hidalgo takes a look at the transgender "Fama" circus in Santiago, Chile.

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The performers in "Fama" have toured Chile for more than a decade. They say the show provides them with a respite from discrimination they face in their country.

Eight of the 15 performers live at the circus, which they describe as their "mobile home."

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Pictured: Transgender Sasha Star applies her makeup before a performance.

Chile is a notoriously hard place to live for LGBT individuals; gay sex was just decriminalized in 1999. "The verbal aggressions and attacks continue, even after the passing of the anti-discrimination law," said Vero, one of the circus' founders.

The circus goes on year round, even in the harsh winter, with performers wearing small bikinis and worn-out stockings.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Transgender Warra Montano applies foundation as she prepares for the show.

For Sasha Stuart and other transgender Chileans the show is not only a way to earn a living, but a way to be part of a family. Stuart says performers earn between $125 and $240 per month. Chile's monthly minimum wage is $380.

The performers say they don't mind the meager pay because they enjoy their job and have minimal expenses. "It's the only work I have. Elsewhere they don't give me work because I am a homosexual," said performer Sasha Star.

Despite the show's minimal funding and modest attendance, the performers say they work to act as if the tent were full.

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