Beyond Diversity Ventriloquism: How Mujer T Is Transing Inclusion in Bogotá

Hypatia 32 (3):679-695 (2017)
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Abstract

In 2013 the mayor's office of Bogotá organized the first ever Mujer T. The event, originally conceived as a beauty pageant, generated considerable controversy. Unexpectedly, however, most of the criticism came not from conservative groups, but from well-known cisgender feminist scholars who criticized the event from a traditional gender perspective. A heated debate about the needs, challenges, desires, and opportunities of trans women continued during the weeks prior to the event. The discussion played out through blogs, social media, and private and public conversations. Nevertheless, although there was much talk about transwomen, there was little room for their voices. This article argues that because of the actors involved, the dynamics and content of the conversations, and the changes that took place in its aftermath, Mujer T 2013 highlights how trans people's bodies, expressions—whether related to gender, culture, or politics—and self-determination processes are intensely policed and contested, even by those whose explicit intent is to support and celebrate them. Therefore, understanding the dynamics of what happened around Mujer T 2013 has important lessons for the development of trans-inclusive policies and initiatives, feminist scholarship and practice, and institutional and societal change.

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