Sex, Gender, and Culture Among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes
By Don Kulick
University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 9780226461007, 277pp.
Publication Date: November 1998
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Kulick analyzes the various ways "travestis" modify their bodies, explores the motivations that lead them to choose this particular gendered identity, and examines the complex relationships that they maintain with one another, their boyfriends, and their families. Kulick also looks at how "travestis" earn their living through prostitution and discusses the reasons prostitution, for most "travestis, " is a positive and affirmative experience.
Arguing that transgenderism never occurs in a "natural" or arbitrary form, Kulick shows how it is created in specific social contexts and assumes specific social forms. Furthermore, Kulick suggests that "travestis" far from deviating from normative gendered expectations may in fact distill and perfect the messages that give meaning to gender throughout Brazilian society and possibly throughout much of Latin America.
Through Kulick's engaging voice and sharp analysis, this elegantly rendered account is not only a landmark study in its discipline but also a fascinating read for anyone interested in sexuality and gender.