Border-Crossing and the Politics of Body Modification Among Puerto Rican Transgender Women

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Venue:FIU MMC, Labor Center 110

SAGGSA Colloquium Committee Presents:

"Border-Crossing and the Politics of Body Modification Among Puerto Rican Transgender Women: Findings from the TRANS-Forma Project"

Lecture by Dr. Mark Padilla

GSS faculty, Dr. Mark Padilla will present on this topic. Much recent global ethnographic literature on gender and sexuality has documented the ways that identities are constructed at the interstices of local and global discourses, migratory trajectories, and changing technologies of the body. For transgender persons, the meanings and practices of body modification are structured by local and global definitions of gendered bodies, the institutional and social politics of access to body transforming technologies, and the transnational possibilities for medical tourism or the (licit and illicit) border crossing of cosmetic products and specialists. The case of transgender women in Puerto Rico offers an important example of how individuals situated at the juncture of intersecting regimes of gender, nationality, medical technology, coloniality, capitalist production, and legal restrictions navigate their way toward personal visions of bodily transformation in which they are deeply invested.

Drawing on ethnographic observations and qualitative in-depth interviews with transgender women from the TRANS-forma project — the first NIH-funded ethnographic project on transgender persons in Puerto Rico — I use the metaphor of border crossing as a framework to discuss both the process of gender transitioning within local social networks and the transnational field of transitioning practices and commodities that mediate body modification practices for Puerto Ricans, such as illegal silicone and hormone injection, global sources of knowledge about trans-genderism, and medical migrations for transitioning surgeries. I end with ethnographically-informed recommendations for the reduction of structural and health-related vulnerabilities for transgender women in Puerto Rico.

For more information, Click Here to see the event flyer or contact:

Sheila Sutton
PhD Student & SAGGSA President
Global & Sociocultural Studies Department
Florida International University
See you there!