Monday, September 29, 2014

A transwoman traveller in Brasil

There is an old puritan who scowls inside me and who, I know, deeply deeply disapproves of people who publish photographs of food and drink. But were it not for him, growling away on his chain in the bottom of my mind, I am sure I would have published a photo of the caipirinha I had on the island last week. 

The Ilha do Mel, the Island of Honey: somewhere very close to the tropical paradise of our northern imaginations, and where they serve the most amazing cocktails. 

This was a caipirinha flavoured with hibiscus, and the lovely young man serving me insisted I try it. So I did: and the drink was of the deepest deepest purple topped with the most exquisite scarlet flower.

Probably the most beautiful flower I had ever seen, I decided after sucking up a few slurpfuls, and yet picked in the most casual way to decorate a tourist’s drink…

But better still, I can’t help feeling, would have been the picture of the pudding that suddenly arrived on my second evening. The most amazing sweet and divinely crispy rolls with a gorgeous custard like confection inside. 

Presented on a Japanese platter with the words “Bem-vinda Jo!” written in chocolate on the side.

Which means “Welcome Jo!” in the right gender and everything, and maybe I shouldn’t have been so deeply touched.

But I was…

And astonished, over and over again, by this extraordinary country, in all its cruelty and exuberance.

Each year, on Transgender Day Of Remembrance, we find ourselves reading a truly horrifying list of transwomen brutally murdered here, and each year the list seems to get longer.

The transwomen I have spoken to are frightened, and with reason: especially now as Evangelically inspired candidates are whipping up trans- and homo- phobic hatred. 

And as a tranwoman travelling alone, I, too, have wondered what I might encounter.

And yet, on that island off the southern coast, and in two urban centres, I have encountered nothing but courtesy, acceptance, and deep kindness.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be astonished.

But I am… 

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