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Maria Carolina Vesce

General field of research

Anthropological studies

Project by

Simonetta Grilli, Università degli Studi di Siena

  • Abstract
  • This project examines the impact that gender and sexual orientation categories that have developed in the West have on migrants reception policies. In particular, it examines the experiences of transgender migrants from different historical and cultural backgrounds. Anthropology has long shown not only the variability of meanings and practices culturally labelled as male or female, but also the difficulty of matching the experiences of many individuals defined as “non-heteronormative” with subjectivities that in Westerners are classified as homosexual, transgender and queer. This process of categorisation takes on a new meaning in the context of migration flows, which finds expression in asylum application practices: in this context specific demands motivated by persecution on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) have emerged.

    In reception centers, for these reasons asylum seekers face the obstacle of inadequate categorisation practices with respect to transsexuality; they are potentially subject to discrimination or reductive or denigrating treatment; there is also a lack of access to personal care areas to provide continuity in transition processes and social networking sites.

    This project focuses on the role played by different LGBTIQ associations and groups that – often working with the reception system – follow those asylum seekers and/or beneficiaries of international protection who have started or intend to start the gender transition process. This experience is particularly consolidated in the network created in Bologna, centered on the decades-long experience of the MIT (Trans Identity Movement), which has become a privileged observation point to reposition the theme of reception of transgender migrants in the wider context of a reconsideration of gender policy.

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