With Early Photographs of Trans Women
La mala vida en Buenos Aires
Notes: A criminologist describes criminal activities and criminals in Buenos Aires, with chapters on professional criminals, thieves and loan sharks, prostitution, pimps (the "parasites of prostitution"), vagrancy, faith healers, and of greatest current interest, homosexuality.
Gomez first traces the history of homosexuality to Greece and Rome and then discusses its treatment under law in the early 20th century. He switches from Spanish to Latin when he needs to explain various terms, such as sodomy ("inmissio mebri in anum"). He summarizes the views of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Richard Krafft-Ebing and appears to entertain the idea that there might be two kinds of gay people, those who choose the lifestye and those with innate tendencies. Regardless of origins, Gomez has no shortage of perjorative adjectives, which do not need repeating here, to describe the gay community in Buenos Aires. This opening theoretical section includes lesbians and other LGBTQ elements, but his detailed observations that follow address only people born male.
Remarkably, he presents queer people on their own terms, reproducing photographs of transgender women with their chosen names, but unfortunate captions, like "Sara, invertido sexual" and "La bella Otero, pederasta pasivo." Gomez also quotes them at length.
Myosotis, who uses feminine adjective endings to describe herself (e.g., "soy atenta" [I am attentive]), is quoted at length and begins by saying that what Gomez finds so abhorrent is perfectly normal: "I don't do anything exceptional: I just like men, and so I have rendezvous with them" [No hago nada de extraordinario: me gustan los hombres y por eso tengo expansiones con ellos.].
La bella Otero, a widowed transgender woman, says, "I have always felt myself to be a woman so I wear women's clothes" [Siempre me he creido mujer y por eso uso vestido de mujer]. She goes on to describe herself as a widow who devotes herself to Saint Teresa.
Gomez says that what might be termed the gay "lifestyle" is particularly prevalent among the aristocratic class of Buenos Aires due to their education in Jesuit schools, where homosexual activity is widespread. He also describes extravagent, popular dance parties for gay men that are held in Buenos Aires.
This work by Gomez is discussed at length in "Invertidos Sexuales, Tortilleras, and Maricas Machos" by Daniel Bao, Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 24, no. 3–4.
While unlikely to be the first book to include photographs of transgendered people, it is certainly one of the earliest.
242 pages. Text in Spanish.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). Original wrappers lightly spotted, but otherwise a near fine copy. Scarce thus.
Publication: Buenos Aires: Juan Roldan, 1908.
Item No: #305899