Opening other closets: a visual ethnography of gender roles and social change among transgender people and their families in Cuba

Saavedra Montes de Oca, Olga Lidia (2018) Opening other closets: a visual ethnography of gender roles and social change among transgender people and their families in Cuba. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The primary purpose of this thesis is to offer an insight into family attitudes toward transgender experience in Cuba, one of the few countries in the world where gender reassignment surgery is state-sponsored. Homosexuality was legalised in Cuba in 1975. In the early 1990s, new laws also encompassed legalisation for gender non-normative persons. Against this background, the present research involved a mixed repertoire of visual and narrative ethnographic methods and was conducted in Cuba between 2014 and 2016. This involved collaborative research to establish a photographic project reflecting on the experience of gender transitioning in the family and included the gathering of oral histories from eight Cuban families. It was intended to enable research participants to reveal the complexities that characterise life in contemporary Cuba and, more importantly, to explore the question of gender, sexuality and the Revolution. Data for this research were collected from eight Cuban families whose members’ ages range from 25 to 80. This facilitated a space for conversation about family and gender transitioning across generations.

This thesis is based on the analysis of this participatory research, which has included assembling the participants’ visual narratives and lived experiences through their family portraits and oral histories, including my own ethnographic visual reflexivity. These family photographs depict the apparently straight/hetero family as a space where sexual and gender difference is happening. They also provide a significant strategy for rethinking queer family spaces, not as separate or subaltern but as implicated within seemingly normative family arrangements. The critical written component of the thesis consists of 38,098 words. The creative work includes a photography exhibition/installation and a photography book. Also, as an integral part of the thesis, some parts of a published article are included in Chapter 4. (See Appendix 2 for Oral History Authors’ Agreement). Each chapter includes descriptions of participants’ thoughts on their own transgender experiences in relation to their domestic space, care arrangements, family relationships and kinship, and also their experiences with The National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and the Cuban State.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0077.7 Transexualism
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2018 10:21
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48

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