Human Geography

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By Vek Lewis (auth.)

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Extra resources for Crossing Sex and Gender in Latin America

Sample text

González Pérez on jotas and gays travestidos (2002) in Colima, Mexico, on a similar form of linguistic play called perreos provide examples of this. In this way, language might be said to constitute us; however, we also reconstitute language. Studies by Cuban psychologists Janet Mesa Peña and Diley Hernández Cruz from the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Cultura Cubana (Center for the Research and Development of Cuban Culture) on transformistas, travestis, and transexuales in Havana (2004), Sheilla Rodríguez-Madera and José Toro-Alfonso and their pioneering work on transgender people and HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico (2005), and Mexican Rosío Córdova Plaza on the criminalization of travesti sex workers in Xalapa, Veracruz (2007), sketch in considerable detail the social, cultural, and institutional factors that order the lived experiences of real-world travestis and transsexuals in their various locales.

Travestismo is a way of covering over that loss. Further, travestismo is clearly conceived by Sarduy as chiefly a visual effect, a copy of a copy. In these terms it constitutes the reflection in a mirror that dissolves the distinction between self and other, and is the product of a fantasy of identification, incorporation, fusing, and appropriation. This language is often central to the way many critics conceive of the function of travestis in literary and visual texts (see especially Richard 2003).

In her book Vested Interests: Cross Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992), she talks of the transvestite in culture and literature as a figure that indicates the place of category crisis, “disrupting and calling attention to cultural, social or aesthetic dissonances” (1992, 16). The transvestite for her indicates category crisis. There has been a tendency to look past the transvestite to a “crisis of elsewhere”; that is, this trans figure has been used as a sign for crises in other categories like race, class, or nationality.

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