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A body of one’s own. Trans* embodiment technologies and knowledge production in Argentina (1967-2012)

Unlike other countries where gender affirmation surgery access was restricted but still allowed under certain conditions from the 1960s (the United States) or existed in a legal vacuum (Chile and Mexico), Argentina has prohibited any surgeries that affected reproductive organs since 1967. Different legal codes had penalised homosexual and trans* public sociability from the 1930s onwards, with explicit condemnation of people dressed as the “opposite sex”. This criminalisation transformed trans* people’s daily lives into public transgressions, threatened their right to existence, and made gender affirmation practices clandestine, expensive and dangerous.  

This presentation analyses how male and female trans* people challenged state restriction by producing knowledge and homemade technologies to affirm their gender. It explores the history of a vast repertoire of medical and social practices that includes clothing, cotton, rubber, self-injected hormones or liquid industrial silicone, the use of prosthetics, document forging, among others.

The presentation explores how people experimented with their bodies performing them in living laboratories to affirm their gender beyond legal and medical control and how this pushed them to precarious conditions.

Finally, the presentation addresses how activists formulated an alternative body discourse that challenged the biotechnological promise of an alleged “correct body” as an undeniable trans future. 

Speaker  

Dr Patricio Simonetto is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University College London. He is the author of 'Between Injury and Revolution. The Frente de Liberación Homosexual in Argentina' (UNQ, 2017), 'Money isn’t Everything. The Purchase and Sale of Sex in Argentina in the Twentieth Century' (Biblos, 2019) published first in Spanish 2019 and now forthcoming in English 2022, 'Money isn’t Everything. The Purchase and Sale of Sex in Argentina in the Twentieth Century' (UNC, 2022). He was awarded with the Carlos Monsivais Prize from the Latin American Studies Association/Sexuality Section. He is currently working on his book project entitled A Body of One’s Own. A Trans* History of Argentina (1900-2012).

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Centre for History in Public Health