The Trans Memory Archive of Argentina
On June 24, 2021, I attended a Zoom event hosted by The Embassy of Argentina and Inspirad@s, a group which raises awareness in Canada of Latin American culture. The event celebrated the creation of the Archivo de la Memoria Trans (Trans Memory Archive) and launched the recently published book of the same name.
The Archivo de la Memoria Trans (AMT) is an archive started by Argentinian trans activists who imagined having a place in which they and their surviving companions could preserve their memories. For two years the AMT was a virtual space where they gathered stories and documents and objects from the community. Finally in 2014 with the help of the visual artist Cecilia Estalles, work began to conserve and protect the collection. The Archive contains more than 10,000 documents, beginning in the early twentieth century to the end of the 1990s. It includes photographic, film, and sound memoirs, passports and national identity papers, letters, notes, police files, magazine articles, newspapers and personal objects.
The event was in Spanish, but with English interpretation and so I missed some of the translation, but the testimony of Carmen Marcial was nonetheless riveting. Sitting alone in front of a simple curtain background, she related with great dignity the persecution, exile and imprisonment of the trans community in the late 70s and 80s. “We had our shield,” she said, in explaining their survival, and raised her arms in defence, a gesture I felt was both literal and metaphorical. She moved me greatly. I was not the only one affected, to judge by the running comments on the sidebar that expressed the respect and admiration of those attending the event. Carmen was two continents away from me in Argentina, but she was my sister.
Many thanks to the Embassy of Argentina for the invitation.
For more, see the Archives website. It’s in Spanish, but has lots of cool photos. See also the book review on this site Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina.