Humanistic Studies
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Revolutionary Transitions: Armed Struggle, Trans Life, and Disabled Resolutions in the Life of Irina Layevska Echeverría Gaitán

November 2, 2020
12:00PM - 1:30PM

Revolutionary Transitions: Armed Struggle, Trans Life, and Disabled Resolutions in the Life of Irina Layevska Echeverría Gaitán

From the author

"Born in 1965 to Communist parents, the transgender and disability rights activist Echeverría Gaitán was a child of the Mexican counterculture and leftist movements that emerged in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Echeverría Gaitán participated in leftist organizations and guerrilla struggles throughout her life. Bearing a striking resemblance to Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Echeverría Gaitán modeled herself after Che Guevara’s “New Man” in her youth and traveled to Moscow, Nicaragua, and Cuba on solidarity missions and for political education. At age 34, she began her transition from a man to a woman, adding a new layer of defiance to her militancy. This paper examines the life of Echeverría Gaitán, pieced together from interviews, her 2008 testimonio (testimonial text) titled Carta a mi padre (Letter to My Father), and a 2011 documentary Morir de pie (Die Standing). In particular, it is interested in the ways Echeverría Gaitán narrated her intersectional experiences and how her presentation of herself as a New Woman upon her transition caused conflict within her leftist circles. Though, in the Mexican case, expulsions for sexual and gender dissidence were rare, Echeverría Gaitán claims to have been kicked out of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Her case, however, is difficult to verify due to a lack of formal documentation and the reliance on oral testimony. I therefore use the case of Echeverría Gaitán to highlight some of the epistemological tensions in oral testimony and the complex dynamics of sexual politics in Mexico’s leftist organizations."

We welcome everyone to this space, but want all to be aware that the content of the presentation deals with lived experience of a transgender and disabled person who has experienced both transphobia and disablism.  There is also anticipated discussion of physician assisted suicide/euthanasia. We encourage you to practice self-care.

Robert Franco received his PhD in Latin American History from Duke University, where he is currently a lecturer at Duke University in the departments of History and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies. In the Spring of 2021, he will be a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis His book manuscript, currently titled Revolution in the Sheets: The Politics of Tolerance and Sexuality in the Mexican Left 1919-2001, focuses on the issues of homophobia, heterosexism, and hostility towards sexual politics in the Mexican Left throughout the twentieth century. His research has been supported by the Fulbright Hays program, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson foundation, and the Mellon Mays program, among others.

All are welcome

November 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

Sponsored by the Humanistic Studies Department

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Meeting ID: 924 0427 6421
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