On one of my visits to La Sofía Cartonera, a cardboard publisher at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina, I took this picture that shows cardboard book covers that have just been painted and are still wet. The man in the picture is Emiliano Luna, an undergraduate student who told me about the routine they have at La Sofía. Each one of them have shifts throughout the week and different tasks they need to complete each day.
Over the past year I have been keeping track of the work of a group called Casa Trans (Trans House) based in Quito, Ecuador. Casa Trans is both a home for LGBT activists and a political and cultural center where events and meetings are held on a regular basis. Providing safe and affordable housing to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender activist is an important factor that contributes to the vitality of the organization because many of its members experience housing discrimination. Casa Trans was formed in response to the murder of a transgender activist in 2004. The members identify themselves as Transfeministas (transfeminists); they embrace the legacy and history of the feminist movement as their own and see themselves as working to expand the scope of feminism. Casa Trans works on various different projects and campaigns at any given time, but their mainstay is as group in defense of the gender and sexual rights of Ecuadorians. They are resolutely in support of women’s right to choose in a political climate where abortion is a relentlessly controversial topic and many LGBT organizations have refused to weigh in on the topic. Casa Trans is the first LGBT organization in Ecuador that has sought out transgender men and made them part of their organizing efforts. They affirm that some women have penises and some men have vaginas, and thereby refuse a biologist gender binary. One of the members I interviewed said that she is not interested in being identified solely as woman because the term trans marks her experience of transitioning from one gender to another. This is a remarkable contrast from more common approaches to transgender identity as a pathological disease, or a case of being trapped in the wrongly gendered body.
Sign reads “We are all whores”