Illustrations by Jonny Ruzzo for TIME (Source Photos: Mauricio Santana—Getty Images, Mauro Pimentel—AFP/Getty Images)

Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert’s political ascension to become the first transgender women in Brazil’s National Congress has been rocky, riddled with death threats and hate. But the women, newly elected in a country where transgender individuals face a high risk of violence, are not letting that reality limit their legislative aspirations.

Salabert, who is passionate about tackling issues like homelessness and public transit, is in talks to run for mayor of Belo Horizonte, the sixth largest city in Brazil. And Hilton, who used to be a sex worker, introduced a bill in July that would implement quotas for transgender people in universities in an effort to decrease trans people’s economic dependence on prostitution. “A higher education diploma can make the dream of leaving the streets come true for many of us, and, for the younger ones, the possibility of never entering that life,” she tweeted. “It’s not just trans people who will benefit. It will be all of Brazil.”

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