GUATEMALA CITY — Dressed as a man, the sixth-grade teacher leaves school and walks several blocks through a dangerous red-light district overrun with gangs and crack dealers.
Arriving at a friend’s home, a transformation begins. Off come wide-leg jeans, T-shirt and a baseball cap that hides long hair. After an extensive, two-hour makeup session, Linda Elizabeth Tylor Martinez emerges wearing a miniskirt and high heels.
Born a man, Tylor is a transgender woman who moves between two distinct lives: one male, one female.
She considers herself lucky to have a teaching job. She says many transgender Guatemalans must make their livings solely as sex workers.
But she disguises her sexual identity to protect that position, and she, too, works as a prostitute at night at a bar.
"In the beginning it was out of necessity because I was still getting my teacher’s license," she said. "But now, it’s also because it’s the only place that I can really be a woman."
She said she would never want her students to know she works as a prostitute. "I try to make sure they never find out."
Fearing repercussions, she would not allow The Associated Press to use her teacher name or interview others at the school.
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