Hispanic Heritage Month 2021: Latinx and gender ethnographics decolonization

Starting September 15th through October 15th, Hispanic Heritage month is observed and celebrated across multiple institutions and communities in the United States (and in case you’re wondering, no, it is not the same as Cinco de Mayo). TransGriot stands in solidarity by highlighting 21 amazing Trans, Nonbinary and Intersex folk taking up space in diverse roles contributing to the narrative on what it means to be gender expansive in a binary dominant colonized Latin(x) world. With this in mind, Let’s take an opportunity to ask: what does it mean to be Trans/Non-binary/ Intersex in the Hispanic world?  Is “Hispanic” and Latin(x) still acceptable or is it too colonizer-ish?  is Latinx a better alternative? Or, are we at the tipping point if shifting geo-political identities towards a more decolonized space in the Americas? -if you ask me-yes, we should. I personally place Latinx on standby for closer examination.

Let’s first acknowledge the obvious, Hispanic and Latin identifying people are conditioned to feel proud of their heritage. Across nations in the Americas the terms Latin or Hispanic are part of a connecting matrix on the shared history rooted in colonization. We are conditioned to take pride in this identity as a gesture of kinship among our Latin-American siblings. But as we developed more cultural awareness, we also arrived at the grim fact that colonization in the Americas is the greatest disruptor on gender and ethno diversity among indigeonous and Black diasporas in the Americas. Hispanic or Latin labels simply fail to fully embrace or acknowledge the layers of ethnic and gender diversity prior and after colonization, further contributing to gender and ethno-diversity erasure. 

Similarly, how gender carries complex narratives between the individual and the collective,the intersection between cultural identity and gender for people of “ Hispanic or Latin” American heritage can be tricky to navigate; for ex. the pervasive loyal subscription to binary identities. In response, the term “Latinx” has emerged as  more gender integral alternative in recent years which has gained popularity among 2S QTBIPOC spaces yet still to gained full momentum among cis spaces. But is this truly inclusive?

Latinx is a relatively new umbrella term to denote gender expansive people of the Americas and abroad who share a heritage rooted in the forced mestizaje and cultural genocide by colonizers perpetuated on Native and Black people in the Americas during the age of Portuguese and Spanish imperialism-heavy breathing intensifies. In relation, one of the consequences of the colonized Latinx history can be observed on societal conditioning of gender roles and more specifically on how Trans/Nonbinary and Intersex contributions are often underlooked under the scope of excellence in comparison with cis identifying folk.   

With all this in mind, finding your “role” in Latinx society as trans, nonbinary and intersex can be more than challenging when confronted with patriarchal dominant attitudes-complicit in centering the binary system. Latinx feels like yet another remaining vestige of colonization adapted to satisfy political correctness placing a bandaid on the conversation of gender and ethno diversity erasure: a bleeding wound. 

As a Two-Spirit woman of physical trans experience born and raised in Latin America for half of my life, I cautiously and hesitantly approach the term Latinx or Hispanic.  Whereas I acknowledge its intentionality to make the former more patriarchal  Latina(o) a more gender inclusive term-I have to admit after learning my history (in addition to living the consequences of such), Latinx feels like a sore rebranding of a colonized identity imposed by my oppressors surviving under the excuse of gender inclusion. 

Much is left on the discussion of interrupted gender diversity and roles in Latinx society prior and after colonization and I cannot pretend to dissect all nuances without ending with a hundred page thesis. We Latinx folk are a geopolitical onion with many ethnographic layers waiting to be examined through a decolonizing lens. For to engage in the practice of decolonization is to integrate individual authenticity as part of the collective tapestry of our shared colonized “hurstory” that does not belong to our former and current oppressors.  

Our following featured folk are examples of this kind of authenticity. They embrace their truths and reclaim agency to what it means for them to be Latinx/Hispanic or not. We honor these amazing gender expansive individuals under the Latinx umbrella-where Latinx is the connecting praxis to a shared colonized “Hurstory”. Their work, presence and  visibility  reflects triumphant  trans excellence, re-defining what it means to exist visibly unapologetic as gender expansive people of Latinx or Hispanic heritage. 

Celebrate and get to know them, yesterday!- above any expectation or conditioning these outstanding folk of Latinx heritage advance the narrative to what authenticity looks like in a post-colonized, reformative, abolitionist world. They are the moment:

Featured Trans/Nonbinary and Intersex excellence:

Article written by guest contributor Ms. Venarsian She/They

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