This book analyzes the way in which the migratory projects of travestis/trans South American migrants currently residing in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (2017-2019) are articulated with the possibilities of constituting their gender identities. In this way, what is elaborated by the research is synthesized according to three times that involve the construction of migratory projects. These migratory times refer to and go through instances that precede the migration to the AMBA, its development in our context and the experiences of continuing the migration to other countries or of temporarily returning to the issuing societies. The working hypothesis proposes that, in the biographical trajectories of South American travestis/trans, situations of violence and discrimination are observed that motivate the abandonment of the issuing societies, in search of scenarios of less hostility towards their gender identities (Eribon, 2000; Berkins, 2003).
The relevance of the research is based on the fact that the migrations of travestis/trans people from South America constitute an unexplored research problem at the local level. In addition, migratory processes have represented one of the main concerns of Argentine sociology, since they have been essential in the process of building the nation state. Regarding gender identity, in the last ten years, a series of rights have proliferated, including the Gender Identity Law (Law No. 26743), which recognizes the importance and visibility of identities not protected by the logics of hetero-cis-normativity.
In the first place, the thesis describes categories that are linked to the issuing societies, namely: internal and regional migratory experiences; the reasons for migrating to the AMBA with emphasis on the discrimination, prejudice and violence that this population suffers from their families of origin and environments; the social representations about our context, and the main migratory chains necessary for the management of leaving the territory and arriving at the destination.
Secondly, categories framed in the receiving societies are characterized, namely: the links between travestis/trans, observing in a particular way the role of godmothers and their influence in prostitution/sex work, violence on the part of clients and the security forces during the exercise of that activity, and the criminalization and discrimination that occurs both due to gender identity and migratory status. These last factors are articulated and involve a set of actors that favor their perpetuation.
Thirdly, the categories linked to the provisional consolidation of migratory projects are explored, namely: the links with families at a distance that involve communication and the sending of remittances; the transformation in the links between the interviewees and their families; the transience of migration in the AMBA, which can lead to displacement towards Europe, and the experiences of temporary return of transvestite/trans South American migrants to sending societies.
From the methodological point of view, the research adopts a qualitative approach through a combination of methods such as grounded theory and, in an auxiliary way, the biographical method and ethnography. Such a combination responds to the intention of constituting a valid and reliable investigation, complementing methods that make it possible to mitigate deficits and enhance the advantages of each one of them. A theoretical sample was designed based on 44 life stories made by transvestite/trans South American migrants and key informants, and participant observation in political organizations and nightclubs, which allowed an in-depth description of the migratory projects of the interviewees.
By strengthening the migratory projects in the AMBA, the South American travestis/trans migrants experienced that the discrimination and violence that, on numerous occasions, motivated the abandonment of the issuing societies, were reconverted and acquired new forms and meanings. In summary, the thesis maintains that gender identity and migration are categories rooted in the life trajectories of the universe of study and, within the framework of the receiving society, transformations take place. Therefore, it was found that the reasons for migration, in addition to responding to economic investment strategies and the expression of greater freedoms, are due to access to rights (education, health and change of identity). It was also discovered that the universe of study constitutes horizontal and vertical migratory chains. A key actor in the construction of these chains are the godmothers, who integrate the newcomers. At the time of consolidating migration, it was found that in the processes of criminalization and discrimination, the migratory condition and gender identity are articulated and give rise to a reconfiguration of these processes.
Finally, regarding migration in transit and experiences of temporary return, it was discovered that the AMBA, for some of the interviewees, represents a transitory scenario to continue migrating to Europe, while, regarding return, it has the meaning exposing migratory success in front of families and achieving higher levels of acceptance. In short, the interviewees send remittances and communicate from a distance in order to rebuild ties, which constitutes experiences of temporary return that have an impact on sending and receiving societies.