Decolonising intersections
: The lives of trans people in Bolivia

  • Ana Carretero-Resino

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Within the current context of socio-political decolonisation in Bolivia and the reforming agenda of the last decade, the landscape for its LGTB population has transformed. Legal and political recognition have come about as a result of a long struggle that echoes other LGTB emancipatory movements worldwide. Historic racialized and gendered oppression have also affected the struggle, triggering tensions to define the LGB and Trans movement: seeking inspiration in Western contexts, or looking inwards and attempting a true decolonial quest.

This research draws on data collected through semi-structured qualitative interviews across Bolivia’s rural and urban hubs, from conversations and dialogical exchanges with Trans people who also identified as lesbian, middle class, indigenous, sex workers and a plethora of other intersecting identity traits. These intersections emerge as key in terms of authenticity, and also determine how Trans individuals access and navigate their immediate public and private realms. The project was conducted looking at quotidian experience, escaping pathologizing and exoticizing individuals because of their gendered, sexualized and racialized identities, but not omitting and ignoring their stories of struggle and hardship, since this would inevitable revictimize them further. The results of the research open the debate of how Trans experience may rupture the post-colonial context and find a sense of rooting and belonging in certain (indigenous) areas. Drawing on a critical realist thematic analysis underpinned by phenomenological aspects, the research engaged with theories within trans/queer studies scholarship as well as postcolonial/decolonial debates to provide a framework of intelligibility to better understand the multiplicity, heterogeneity and potential contradictory experiences lived by the participants. This thesis highlights the implications of the decolonial agenda among gender and sexual diversities in Bolivia and the wider Andean region (from Peru down to Argentina) echoing some of the de-medicalisation movements in the West. The findings show how through globalisation the interlocking of race-gender can open up possibilities to establish conversations and reflections about the possibility of creating other hegemonic discourses, both in postcolonial contexts as well as in the West (the non-Occidentalist), whilst keeping a critical approach to epistemological populisms that essentialise individuals based on apparent identity traits.

Based on the above, it is therefore possible to conclude that Trans identity in itself is far from a monolithic construct, and in the Bolivian context, due to the complexity of the decolonial colonial history and decolonial present there are several parallel currents of thought, and sources of experience (a mirror in which Trans individuals look at for a reference point, validation and reaffirmation) in social, historic and cultural terms.

Date of AwardSept 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorKepa Artaraz (Supervisor) & Nichola Khan (Supervisor)

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