Trans Narratives and Potential Transformations
| By Maria Araujo
To write about my experience at the AWID Forum while taking into consideration just how fulfilled I felt throughout the entire event will be a difficult task. This is mainly because writing may not be enough to enable you, the reader, to grasp the impact that the encounters I experienced during the event had on me.
Over all these years in which I have been building transfeminism in Brazil, together with sisters with whom I share the same condition in life, I have always heard how important the collective process is in order for us to truly succeed in making changes to micropolitics, which is where we challenge power relations.
As a trans woman studying education, who understands the Brazilian education system as one with a Jesuit heritage, I fight for space and for my voice to be heard and I resist just by being there. As a Brazilian trans woman who sees Brazil as a country that kills us the most, I resist by just living here. In sum, everything in my life and at all times, I am in power relations.
I fight so that people will listen to me and understand my basic needs as a human rights issue.
So when I was finally able to have a few days in which I could sit, listen and discuss with other trans people from all over the world, I could easily see the potential that exists when we hear ourselves voicing a discourse that unites us as political subjects. A discourse that demands historical reparation for the visibility that was taken away from us during the ongoing colonization process we are still experiencing in our society. - a process that chooses which bodies are important and which ones are not.
The opportunity that the AWID Forum afforded to me to meet trans persons from all over the world helped me to absorb important narratives as a trans woman, a researcher and a transfeminist. During the session in which we discussed transfeminist experiences in the Global South, I was able to benefit from what the three roundtable participants - one from Africa, one from Latin America and one from Asia - wanted to share. It helped me visualize how other trans people are seeking to coordinate their efforts to achieve victories and changes, whether they are in micropolitics or from a macro perspective
Hearing other stories of resistance and having the chance to meet these people and, in some ways, see myself reflected in them opened up horizons that had not been visible to me before - me, a young girl who lives in the periphery in north-eastern Brazil.
The existence of collective work on training, exchanges and mutual reinforcement is fundamental not only for myself, but when we think of feminist networks in general. As someone who occupies a privileged position in relation to other trans women, I have always felt that I have the responsibility to speak not only for myself, but for them as well.
I must also be aware that when I win something, what I have won is not only for me, but also for a group of women who fight for the basic right to exist on a daily basis.
The AWID Forum was able to offer this kind of collective experience, which created an opportunity for stories to be told. There are numerous narratives that ceased to be visible throughout the construction of humanity, as patriarchy and cis heteronormativity stopped dissident representations from being seen and recognized by other dissidents.
I like it when Grada Kilomba affirms that the time has come for us to pay attention to other narratives and to stop listening to and giving importance to what has been said by voices that we no longer need to feel obliged to listen to and take into consideration. On the contrary, we need to listen, build and multiply other voices: voices that are in accord with the moment of revolution we are building. Voices that were once silenced. This is what came to mind throughout the entire transfeminism session. More specifically, this is where the future of the feminist movement I believe in lies: in exercising our capacity to listen. We must take care and have the empathy to recognise all experiences as valid, as something that can unite us as we build bridges to connect voices and desires. Desire for change.
The AWID Forum was a space that allowed for this listening. I sincerely hope that there will be more moments like this one, not only for myself, but for anyone who has dared to think that her body, her life and her narratives are not important and that there would be no one to listen to them.