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social sciences

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Transsexuals of Brazil  
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There are relatively few activist groups in Brazil that encompass the whole range of alternative sexualities and genders. Within these mixed groups, transsexuals tend to distinguish themselves from transvestites, hence the increasing use of the term "GLBTT"--Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite, and Transsexual--rather than the acronym most familiar in the United States, "GLBT"--Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender, where "Transgender" is used as an umbrella term.

Despite being included in Brazil's acronym in the struggle for glbtq rights, transgender people receive little outreach from the more mainstream gay and lesbian groups. There are, however, associations of transgender people in several Brazilian states and cities.

Sponsor Message.

One program in Rio de Janeiro focuses on the reintegration of transvestites into society through training and employment opportunities.

Emotional Life

The dire political and social situation of transgender people in Brazil could gradually be alleviated if more transgender people qualified as doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. However, in addition to the discrimination that limits their education, most transvestites seem unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to obtain higher education. They seem to believe that to do so would also mean sacrificing the most important years of their lives as beautiful women.

The combined effects of discrimination, humiliation, lack of education, and isolation from mainstream society place enormous emotional strain on Brazil's transgender people, especially those who earn their living as sex workers. They tend to live for the present, in the belief that their beauty will not last long and in the knowledge that prospects for a decent life beyond 30 are extremely limited.

The pressures to succumb to drug abuse and criminality are enormous, but transgender people are also especially vulnerable to contracting AIDS and to falling into cynicism and despair. Avoiding these pitfalls demands remarkable courage and strength of character.

Barry Michael Wolfe

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social sciences >> Overview:  Brazil

A notably diverse country, Brazil is also home to one of the world's most dynamic glbtq political movements.

social sciences >> Overview:  Rio de Janeiro

Despite social and economic problems, Rio de Janeiro has long been a fun-filled gay and lesbian mecca.

social sciences >> Overview:  São Paulo

South America's largest metropolis and Brazil's richest city, São Paulo prides itself on a vibrant and diverse glbtq community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sex Work and Prostitution: Female

Sex work has long been the last resort of desperate women and girls, but more recently some women--including some lesbians--have been drawn to the profession by a renegade ideology of sexual liberation.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender

"Transgender" has become an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women and who suffer political oppression as a result.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender Activism

Since the late nineteenth century, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the kinds of oppression and discrimination they suffer.


Brasil, Mariana. O manuscrito de Sônia: Prostituição, erotismo e amor. São Paulo: Italianova, 2005.

Couto, Edvaldo Souza. Transexualidade: o corpo em mutação. Salvador: GrupoGay da Bahia, 1999.

Foureaux de Souza, J. L., Jr., ed. Literatura e homoerotismo: umaintrodução. São Paulo: Scortecci, 2002.

Garcia, Wilton. Corpo, mídia e representação: estudos contemporâneos. São Paulo: Thompson, 2005.

Green, James N. Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Kulick, Don. Travesti: Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

_____, and Charles Klein. Scandalous Acts: The Politics of Shame among Brazilian Travesti Prostitutes.

Lancaster, Roger. "Transgenderism in Latin America: Some Critical Introductory Remarks on Identities and Practices." Sexualities 1.3 (1998): 261-274.

Lopes, Denílson, Wilton Garcia, Sérgio Aboud, and Berenice Bento, eds. Imagem & diversidade sexual: estudos da homocultura. São Paulo: Nojosaedições, 2002.

Lyra, Bernadette and Wilton Garcia, eds. Corpo e cultura. São Paulo: Xamã-ECA/USP, 2001.

McCallum, Cecília. "Travesti: Sex, Gender and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes." Mana 5.1 (1999): 165-68.

Moreno, Antônio. A personagem homossexual no cinema brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Funarte, Niterói: EdUFF, 2001.

Mott, Luiz R. B. Epidemic of Hate: Violations of the Human Rights of Gay Men, Lesbians and Transvestites in Brazil. San Francisco: Grupo Gay da Bahia/International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, 1996.

_____, and Marcelo Cerqueira. As travestis da Bahia e a Aids. Salvador: Ministério da Saúde e Grupo Gay da Bahia, 1997.

Reis, Paulo. Mapa da Violência e Discriminação Praticada contra Gays, Lésbicas, Travestis, Transexuais e Bissexuais. São Paulo: Centro de Referência GLTTB da Secretaria da Cidadania Trabalho, Assistência e Inclusão Social da Prefeitura Municipal de Campinas, 2006.

Santos, Rick, and Wilton Garcia, eds. A escrita de adé: perspectivas teóricasdos estudos gays e lésbicas no Brasil. São Paulo: Xamã-Nassau Community CollegeNCC/SUNY, 2002.

Trevisan, João Silvério. Devassos no paraíso: A homossexualidade no Brasil, da colônia à atualidade. São Paulo: Record, 2000.


    Citation Information
    Author: Wolfe, Barry Michael  
    Entry Title: Transsexuals of Brazil  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated December 26, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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