This talk is based on my first book project, Trans Gestures: Regulation, Embodiment, and Care Work in Trans Latinx Lives, which chronicles the role of gender variance, trans gender identity, and queer sexuality in shaping migration, family relationships, and everyday life in Los Angeles. The larger book project draws on thirty in-depth interviews, participant observation, and 130 surveys from trans Latinx immigrants of first, 1.5 and second generations in the U.S. that began as a community-based research collaboration with the TransLatin@ Coalition, a national organization based in Los Angeles, CA that advocated for trans and immigrants right.
This talk will examine the lived realities of trans Latina/o/xs as they transition and challenge the confines of cis-heteronormative racialized gender binary identities and expectations. I will discuss how trans Latina/o/xs experience disciplining and attempted regulation of their bodies and gender expression from a young age and into adulthood due to the homophobia and transphobia they experience in various institutions, including their families, ethno-racial communities, the educational system, law enforcement, the medical industrial complex, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I argue that despite the social and legal violence they experience, trans Latina/o/xs engage in resilience mechanisms that emphasize care work, activism, and spirituality to make their lives livable. These resilience mechanisms, are what I refer to as, “trans gestures,” that contribute to trans Latina/o/x world making through political, social, interpersonal, and psychic action they engage in on a daily basis to survive and thrive, while navigating cis-heteronormative, nativist, and/or white dominant spaces that render their bodies illegible and disposable.
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