Association for Queer Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In the five years that Chile’s proposed Gender Identity Law has been debated in the nation’s Congress, the rights of trans children and adolescents has revealed itself as both a stumbling block and and a flashpoint for more broadly held Chilean beliefs about gender identity, sexuality, the separation of church and state, and the supremacy of scientific expertise. While the Chilean Congress finally passed the law in late 2018, the fate of trans Chileans under the age of 18 hangs in the balance, and the category of youth continues to be productively mobilized by both pro- and anti-trans forces to further their respective agendas. As such, this paper will explore the role of youth—and more precisely ideas about youth—in the legal and cultural debates about trans rights in Chile, arguing that these suppositions reveal deeply held beliefs about the importance of rigid cisheternormative gender roles in the bringing up of Chilean children, and thus in the future of the nation-state itself. On the other hand, this paper will also examine how the Chilean trans movement—theoretically opposed to mapping binary gender identities onto children—often falls into the same cisheteronormative logics in its quest to legitimize the identities of trans children.