This article employs Bruno Latour's notion of “translation” to examine the ways by which anglophone discourses of transsexuality are deployed in the Brazilian context. The author argues that transsexuality is utilized by the medical class in ways that refuse to medicalize the bodies of travestis, delegitimize their access to health care, portray them as inauthentic and improper women, and render their identity untranslatable and thus invisible. In order to get access to medico-legal rights, travestis and transsexuals have formed a united political front that seeks to reduce the importance of sex-reassignment surgery as a signifier of authentic gender variance, while at the same time asserting travesti subjectivity as unique and distinct from both transsexuality and transgender identity. The author concludes that the academic community needs to develop new methods of analysis to critique the pathologization of gender-variant identities in different sociocultural contexts, avoiding a Eurocentric frame of reference.

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