Throughout the semester we have been studying about different ways in which society views, reads, and categorize transexuality. Inside the nine readings we have done and videos watched outside of class a key concept I find significant in the course is violence. When you hear the term violence, physical harm comes to mind, but while reading “Sexile”, “Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossing”, watching Screaming Queens, and Transgression violence consisted of mental deterioration. Within the two readings and videos we see how transgender individuals fall victims of society, the law, and their nations. When focusing on trans studies, it is important to look at how we as a society label and try to categorize individuals into groups. Doing so could lead to violence, discrimination, and a target.
In Jaime Cortez, “Sexile” we read how Adela Vasquez was seen as a bastard child from birth because she was born from a single parent. Cortez writes, “I couldn’t wait to grow up because I knew that when I turned 10… my dick would fall off… my pussy would grow and finally I’d become a complete girl” (pg, 6). Here we see Vasquez officially stating she felt like she was born with the wrong body parts. Vasquez mentions that whenever a bully would pick on her she would seduce him and then blackmail him. Because dressing as a woman was illegal in Cuba, Vasquez decided to migrate to the U.S. because she was a “fag” (pg, 22). Vasequez and other trans individuals were taken to an army base where the bus with the migrates were welcomed by an angry mob ready to attack the trans. Violence waited outside the army base gates ready to attack any tans individual setting out. Unfortunately, Vasquez had to leave the base until the next morning, but because of the angry mob an officer offered to conceal her in an army truck until they passed the mob. To no surprise, the officer stopped the truck and exposed Vasquez to the mob. Vasquez remembers “fists, colors exploding in her head, and then nothing” (pg, 25). After making it to the U.S. Vasquez had to turn to sex in order to survive. This reminded me of the violence trans sex workers faced in the tenderloin, but had to still go out every night in order to make money to have a place to sleep and food to eat.
In Alisa Solomon, “Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossing” we read about violence both physically and mentally. In Solomon’s reading we read about Christina Madrazo, a transsexual woman from Mexico seeking asylum in the U.S. Madrazo did not receive asylum because she was trans and had two misdemeanor on her record. Madrazo was put into immigration detention where she says she was raped by a guard. Most of these detainees do not understand English and aren’t guaranteed attorneys. Trans are kept in solitary confinement for protection, but end up being locked up in a cell with no light or fresh air. INS personnel offer sex in exchange for early release, warning of transfers, or threats of deportation. Although the personnel don’t have access to these things the detainees don’t know that. As in the video Transgression we hear how Norma Ureiro was a victim of violence within the INS and physically abused by her parents. Ureiro says, “I was going crazy”.
Unfortunately, violence in the trans community is recurrent, but often unheard. Violence is a common factor in bibliographies of trans identified individuals. There aren’t many laws protecting hate crimes from making the trans community an easy target for violence. We often hear stories LGBTQ individuals committing suicide, running away from home, being forced out of their homes/communities, and or taken advantage of. In the cases Solomon and Cortez talk about violence is used against tans of color. Trans of color are easier to fall victims of violence because of their social class, lack of resources, and vulnerability. We heard how Norma Ureiro became victim of the Immigration system after being caught illegally in the U.S. We also saw how Adela Vasquez from “Sexile” was a victim of rejection and violence. Because of these stories I believe violence is a key concept for this course because we have heard and read different ways in which individuals of the trans community have fallen victims of violence physically and mentally.