Department or Program



“Las Trans,” a group of male-to-female transgender residents living in Arica, Chile, challenge the strict dual-sex, dual-gender system of Chile’s family-oriented society. Chile presents an especially interesting case when analyzing the social position of sexual minorities due to the country’s historically strong ties to the Catholic Church, and, on a political level, the experience of 17 years of dictatorship during a crucial period of time in world history. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted with las Trans, I consider how gender identity and gender expression affect to what extent an individual can achieve full personhood and full citizenship in this South American country. Because of las Trans’ gender identities, they are unable to take advantage of many opportunities that are, in theory, guaranteed as basic human rights. Specifically, they are unable to attain legitimate jobs and are instead forced to earn a living through sex work, putting them at a heightened risk of being assaulted and contracting STDs. Additionally, las Trans experience numerous barriers in effectively accessing government-sponsored institutions, like healthcare, which are allegedly free and accessible for all citizens. This thesis argues that such discriminatory and exclusionary practices, rooted in social discrimination and reinforced through government legislation and religious discourse, further marginalize those who fail to conform to culturally prescribed gender categories and norms.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


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