The photos of a trans woman from Cutral Co that reached the memory archive

It rains a little. A few petty drops that form puddles. Katty Villagra arrives at the appointment. He says that after 25 years he rebuilt his relationship with his family and asked his mother photos of his childhood.
-I had to leave my house when I said who I was, do you understand?
I ask him if those images will also go to the archive, one day.
-Of course.

The file of the trans memory is a collection that gathers more than 15,000 documents, from the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the 90s throughout the country. Includes photographs, ID, passports, letters, notes, police files, magazine articles, personal diaries. This space was powered by Maria Belén Correa, an activist exiled in Germany, after the death of another community leader such as Claudia Pía Baudracco. First, it was born as a virtual space to share anecdotes until it was transformed into a site for recovery, conservation and claiming of stocks.

The material that arrives is classified and cataloged. The collection is available, on the website, and organized into series ranging from carnival, parties and birthdays, through shows, everyday life, sex work, activism and childhood, among other.

Since last June, Neuquén is one of the three provinces in which a team that works on local compilation was formed. It is made up of Katty, who is the coordinator of ATTTA Neuquén and works in the Diversity Department, together with María Verdugo and Marina Cisneros. Benjamin Génova recently joined.

So far they have compiled two documentary collections. Daniela Chavez, 62, who lives in Cutral Co, was the first to provide her material (see separate). He followed Marga del Valle Ogas, 68, from Neuquén capital. Both donated their photographs, after signing a consent.

Childhoods, which sixty years ago were not named as trans, but which existed. Photo Luis Barros.

“We want to collect history, our history. We have been losing our things. There are companions who have died and their things do not appear or no more is known about them and we were finding ourselves in this way. Many have migrated abroad, others have migrated to different parts of Argentina. In our time, we were generally always locked up, because we were arrested if we went out into the street. Our files and everything else were always in the police station. You had to look for someone and you were looking for where we were detained, because there was nothing else about us”Explains Katty.

Imprisonment and humiliation, which sometimes turned into abuse, were the rule. “That society knows, that it is really proven that there was a trans genocide. Because we were detained for 60, 90, 120 days, where they cut our hair and everything else, just for the fact of being. The contraventional code said that it was clothes not suitable for sex and that is why they gave us that many days, where we did not have to eat. So we want to show that memory, that genocide that was committed, because our population still has, to this day, a very low average life span, which no population has, which is 35 to 40 years old, “she says. .

Precisely on August 25, the trans flag will arrive in Neuquén, a federal action that crosses the country. A 15 x 7.5 meter canvas that pays tribute to those who were murdered, disappeared or deceased. That is why the archive is far from being a trunk of memories. Because it is not closed, but grows, and more than silent, it beats, it challenges the whole of society. For those who did not survive, for the future of old age and the present of childhood.

Katty is one of the members of the archive team in Neuquén. Photo Florencia Salto.
the work of compilation and preservation for the conservation of the material begins.

* By Andrea Vázquez

Daniela Chávez opens the door to her apartment, but also to her history because she is the first from Neuquén to integrate the trans memory archive. After working a lot, he now spends his days without the urgency of having to guarantee his income, because he accessed a national pension although he would like to get a job because he wants to “feel useful.”

In an apartment in the General Belgrano neighborhood -ex 450 Viviendas- of Cutral Co, Daniela, 62, lives with her bitch “Piba” that, despite being many years old, is attentive to the movements of its owner. Between the two of them they accompany each other, especially since her partner passed away just a year ago and with whom she shared 14 years of her life.

Daniela is 62 years old and lives in Cutral Co. Her documentary collection is in the archive, along with Marga del Valle Ogas’. Photos Luis Barros.

“This is when I received typing”, he says and exhibits a photo with his mother, at the ceremony of delivery of certificates of the academy. Taking into account that the average life expectancy of trans people in the country does not exceed 40 years, I ask: Did you ever imagine reaching this age?
-Never, I thank God for that and because I am healthy.

Daniela retraces her story and relates: “I was born like this, my mother took me to the psychologists, I was going to go to high school. He signed me up (at the former National School of Commerce of Plaza Huincul, today CPEM N ° 58) and I wanted to dress as a man, with the blue blazer and plaid pants. But I wanted something else, I wanted to be a woman. When I put on the uniform to go to school, I hid and did not go in and when I was 16 years old, I left my house ”.

He spent two years living outside his home and took care of a girl, while the mother worked. At 18 – in 1977 – he went to Neuquén, where he began to practice sex work. He was in the capital city until he was 42, when he returned because his mother got sick. “I had to come with her until she passed away. With my dad, I did not live because he did not accept me. For him I was a man and it had to be that way. Not for me, On the other hand, with my mother, it was her daughter”, he says.

Although her wish had been to be a nurse, she regrets that she had to go another way.

Once his mother died and was left without the help of family care, he crossed the neighborhood dining room and began to “peel potatoes and onions to help in the kitchen.” Later, someone came looking for her to work in the nursing home, a position she held for 12 years until she was incorporated into the ex gratia pension program and she had to leave the place.

“Home was a house. I worked four days, it was my turn in the kitchen, three days off. The other four days I played in the laundry room, or at night as a nurse companion. I liked everything, so I miss that job, ”he says wistfully.

For Daniela, having the DNI with her name also implied a great recognition. She remembers the times when to go to vote she had to stand in line with the men and go with her partner to the door of the dark room.

Of the older adult trans women in the area, she is practically the only one left, because another partner older than her has already died. His fervent wish is to be able to continue working so that his days are more bearable and not so lonely.


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