Transsexual Citizenship in Argentina

Throughout the semester, we have been studying petitions, decisions, and fights concerning the law and how it defines and protects individuals under it. In the article, “Transsexual Citizenship in Contemporary Argentina,” by Mauro Cabral and Paula Viturro, the authors discuss ethical-political issues about sexual citizenships of trans people living in Argentina. First of all, to understand what Cabral and Viturro are saying, one needs to define sexual citizenship. Sexual citizenship is “that which enunciates, facilitates, defends, and promotes the effective access of citizens to the exercise of both sexual and reproductive rights and to a political subjectivity that has not been diminished by inequalities based on characteristics associated with sex, gender, and reproductive capacity.” Thus, the point that Cabral and Viturro are making in their article is that they can take a term such as sexual citizenship and apply it to the struggles of the transgender community in Argentina. As they both prove in their argument, transgendered sexual citizenship under the current Argentinean laws is a “diminished” or lesser way of living because those in power in that country do not view transgendered people as equals. However, in 2005 for the first time, a man was granted a legal name and sex change in his official documents after he also was granted permission for sexual reassignment surgery. Yet, this decision was tainted by the fact that 10 days before the decision, travesti activist, Alejandro Galicio was murdered in cold blood. As we have learned during the semester, the travesties are a large trans community in Argentina and are probably one of the most vulnerable and most discriminated against.

However, Cabral and Viturro are not applauding this decision as a step in the right direction by any means nor am I. The Argentinean courts order that if a person is going to legally changed documentation or and be legally recognized under the law as their new and true identity, than three major steps must be taken “morphological resemblance, sterility, and the irreversibility of the modifications.” Along with these extreme measures, the courts also want the guarantee that once the surgeries and changes are complete, that the person will lead a heteronormative lifestyle. Thus, homosexuality is expressly forbidden unless the surgery is “correcting” this. However, even if travesties were willing to follow these instructions, as of right now it is unlikely that all or even the majority of gender reassignment surgeries or legal document changes will even be allowed. There are groups that are fighting for travesti rights under the laws; however, many lawmakers view them as not even human and really refuse to even fairly examine their cases. Although one case was allowed through, in the end, the Argentina’s own Supreme Court doesn’t support a permanent law change. It stated in its decision,

“No one would doubt to grant legal recognition to an association whose object was promoting scientific investigations into cancer treatment and prevention or cardiovascular affiictions. Because unfortunately we are all exposed to be reached at any moment by such illnesses. No “common good” provision-an essential condition for such a “blessing”-has, or can have, consistently, the acceptance of such beings on behalf of society, as if they were normal men and women …. these are individuals whose customs, activities and modus vivendi in general, present, without any pejorative intention, deviations.”

In conclusion, Cabral and Viturro make a sad final point. Travestis are not treated as equal citizens at all and must fight to make their voices heard almost as if they were foreigners within their own country.


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