Transsexual and Queers

by Félix J. Saldaña Santos

     On Thursday, March 6, 2014 around 50 people attended a conference about transsexual and queer thematics at the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez. Dr. Salvador Vidal Ortiz, associate professor at the American University in Washington DC, talked about the situation and problems for queer and transsexual people in the United States and Latin America.

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Guest panelist Dr. Salvador Vidal Ortiz

     Transsexual and queer people have been a topic of many controversies in different places, in the U.S. According to a report done by Gary J. Gates and published by the University Of California School Of Law, approximately 9 million people identify themselves as lesbians, gay, bisexual transsexual (also known as LGBT) Americans.

    Furthermore, he emphasized in the context to study the relationship between transsexual and queer studies.  To talk about this kind of relationship   Vidal-Ortiz briefly explained queer theory, which is a post-structuralist critical theory that emerged in the 1990s out of the field of queer studies.  The second part of Vidal-Ortiz’s presentation was about queerness in Latin America and how they used the word queer to break the category and standard use of the word gay.  In some places of South America they are using the queer and transsexual people for the modernization, democratization and expansion of the markets. For example, in Bogotá the government is helping and supporting transsexual women.

    In Bogotá the government if offering jobs for transsexual women since they know they can boost the economy; however, as great as this sounds this incentive is also to help them get out of the street since prostitution is legal in Bogotá and the transsexual woman can earn more money there. An example of this kind of incentive is the competition “Bogotrans,” which is a runaway show for transsexual women.

   In an interview after the talk Vidal-Ortiz compared the case of Bogotá to Puerto Rico and noted that “we can’t apply certain measures like in Bogotá since in Puerto Rico prostitution in not legal and I don’t know how much money they ask for the sexual act.”

     Vidal-Ortiz then talked a little about the violence against queer people and how they are threatened to death in certain places of Colombia, if they don’t leave the country. Vidal Ortiz compared the situation in various parts of Colombia versus how it is in the capitol Bogotá and how different they are, for example in certain places of Colombia where queer people are threatened to death if they don’t leave the country in 10 days.

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