COLORS: When did you first become interested in politics and activism?
Erika Hilton: One day, when I was around four or five years old, I told grandmother that I was going to be the president of Brazil.
I have very happy memories of my childhood. I grew up surrounded by women in a matriarchal home. Through their strength, they were political almost without knowing it. A lot of my political motivations came later too, through being on the streets, having to fight for my right to exist, and through my experiences with prostitution. But observing these women as a child was the first thing that made me want to take action and be part of important conversations.
COLORS: When did you decide to get involved in politics yourself?
EH: In 2015, I had an argument with a bus company in Itú—a city in the state of Sao Paulo—who refused to let me use my chosen name on my ticket. I started a petition against them which gained a lot of attention. After that, I was invited to join PSOL, Brazil’s Socialism and Liberty Party. This was my gateway into institutional politics, where I began to learn about parliament, legislation, structures, and how to build dialogues with institutions. It was very different from what I was used to: being a militant activist, shouting loudly, and putting up posters. It was a really important experience for me, but also very frustrating. Many of the party’s values didn’t align with what I was trying to achieve.