Now You See Me? The Visibility of Trans and Travesti Experiences in Criminal Procedures

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Now You See Me? The Visibility of Trans and Travesti Experiences in Criminal Procedures


  • Lorena Sosa Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Utrecht University, The Netherlands


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 1086 | Downloads: 776


Abstract:  In 2012, after decades of trans and travesti activism in Argentina, the law on gender identity was finally adopted. Travesti activists Diana Sacayán and Lohana Berkins were at the forefront of these efforts. The same year, after the long struggle of the feminist movement, ‘femicide,’ understood as the murder of women by men in the context of gender-based violence, was incorporated into the Criminal Code as aggravated murder. This legal amendment also criminalized hate crime based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim. Mobilized by Sacayán’s murder in 2015, the trans and travesti collective sought to make the experiences of exclusion and marginalization of the travesti collective visible by coining the notion of ‘travesticide,’ and demanded it to be used in the ensuing criminal trial that followed her death. Constrained by the legal notions of femicide, gender-based violence, and hate crimes, the Tribunal introduced ‘travesticide’ in their decision, yet questions on how to properly operationalize this notion in criminal law remain. Each notion offers opportunities and poses difficulties in making the murder of travestis politically visible and accounted for. By a detailed analysis of the final judgment, this article reflects on the implications of the notions used in the trial and the possible lessons for future interactions with the criminal justice system.

Keywords:  Argentina; criminal procedures; femicide; gender identity; hate crime; transgender; travesti; travesticide

Published:   18 September 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i3.2804


© Lorena Sosa. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.