Postcolonial Disablement and/as Transition: Trans* Haitian Narratives of Breaking Open and Stitching Together

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Thisarticlebringstogetherblacktransgenderstudiesandpostcolonialstudiestoconsider the possibility for trans* narratives of Haiti, known as the “Black Republic.” Based on ethnographic research with trani, trans*, and transgender Haitians, this article focuses on how one woman— “Kelly” — has built a life between Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. As the author argues, the 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010, is the most prominent transition in Haitian transgender lives because of the ways that it reorganized bodies and social relations. The author draws from black, queer, trans*, and crip theories to consider how Kelly’s life herstory creates possibilities for elaborating the effects of breaking open — the tectonic shifts in gender embodiment and social life that have taken place in Haiti alongside the earth’s movements. More specifically, the author illustrates that antiblack postcolonial disablement of the earthquake produced transing effects. Kelly’s remasculinization through sustaining injuries and receiving medical interventions resulted in the most profound dysphoria of Kelly’s life. The disaster also amplified the fractures in MSM organizations because of how they paid lip service to supporting transgender women. In exploring the question of what the forms of black trans* self-authorization look like in this context of antiblack postcolonial disablement, the author proposes stitching together as a strategy geared toward black trans* futures through (imperfect) reparation and survival.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-207
JournalTransgender Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Haiti
  • disability
  • transgender
  • postcolonial
  • imperialism
  • earthquake


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