UCL Institute of the Americas


‘We never give up’

15 October 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Flag of Brazil

‘We never give up’: travesti political narrative as a critique of colonial discourses and social inequalities in Brazil

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Daisy Voake


Room 103
Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

In today’s context, where far right extremists are in government in Brazil, undermining the rights of sexual minorities and disadvantaged people, travesti political narratives provide a powerful means of understanding social inequalities in Brazil, while denouncing the sexism, racism and classism that is pervasive in a postcolonial society.

By demanding visibility, travestis articulate their histories of poverty, violence, prostitution and marginality as vectors of political and artistic action. In a society with one of the highest indices of social inequality in the world, with a history of slavery and colonisation, and with the greatest number of trans people murdered in the world, travesti discourse emerges as a place of decolonial criticism, not only of global discourse of Western medicine and international activism, but also of the social inequalities at the heart of Brazilian society itself.

In this presentation, Dr Bruno Barbosa will analyse travesti as an identity in activism, hypothesising that their unique political narrative offers a necessary critique of the effects of globalisation and social inequality on Brazil. This travesti rhetoric is primarily evident in two situations: first, in cases where the travesti identity is used in contrast to more globally understood categories, such as transsexualtransgender, and trans; second, in political narratives emphasising a history of poverty, marginality and prostitution.

His arguments are based on ethnographic research conducted from 2008  to 2015 in the National Association of Travestis, Transsexual Women and Trans Men’s (ANTRA)  conferences. Dr Barbosa discusses controversies around the term ‘trans people’ as a collective identity, the campaign for travesti visibility and more contemporary uses of travesti identity by young activists.

About the Speaker

Dr Bruno Cesar Barbosa

Dr Bruno Cesar Barbosa is an Honorary Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of the Americas and a Pos-doc researcher at the Gender Studies Centre Pagu, University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil.