1. “Sexile” begins with Vazquez stating that her “birth was revolutionary” (3). How does she continue to draw parallels between the Cuban revolution and her process of identifying as a woman? (In terms of power, transition, and even hope.) What does this say about the category of transgender in relation to Stryker’s definition of the term as “the movement across a socially imposed boundary away from an unchosen starting place” (Stryker 1)?
2. Among other things, Vazquez experiences a brand new economic system upon re-locating to America. How did the new-found freedoms (and constraints) of capitalism affect her life and sense of self? Do you see any ties that the author draws between capitalism, consumerism, freedom, drugs, sex, and the AIDS crisis? (E.g., “freedom was like a drug we didn’t know how to take,” “As a prostitute, I had no sexual freedom. I was a product, a service, an idea”) (42, 62).
3. Page 56 is the first time Vazquez uses the term “transgender.” Before this, she uses various terms such as gay, queer, and even “fag” to describe herself and other individuals she encountered in LA. Why do you think this is the first time she uses the term (more than halfway through the narrative)? How does this affect the rest of the narrative and the way she talks about herself? What light does it shed on the previous pages?
4. Vazquez insists that she is not gay (on page 9), but when the military’s psychiatrist evaluates her elligibility for the armed services, she is deemed a “homosexual” (page 14). What does this say about the relations (or lack thereof) between identity and institutional definitions of identity categories?
And an extra question because I felt it was necessary given the nature of the reading:
5. This narrative is clearly different from the rest of the texts we’ve read for this class in that it is presented as a graphic novel with illustrations throughout. How do these visuals add to the narrative? Particular pages of interest: 13, 27, 31, 60, connection between 50 and 64, etc.