* By Pedro Ambra
A historic step in the struggle for human rights was taken in Brazil on the first of March: the right to own name for trans people and transvestites. But why is something seemingly simple such a fundamental achievement?
In order to answer this question, we need to dwell a little on what the name is. A proper name is an irreducible mark of a singularity that brings together the body and the set of acts, dreams and speeches of someone. It is a human invention that allows the recognition of the same person's experience of unity, even though it - contradictorily - is no longer the same over time: the name is the mark of unity in difference.
However, in many trans experiences, this uniqueness and its recognition are vetoed, as the name almost always carries the irreducible mark of the gender. Thus, the process of assuming a transgender identity necessarily involves a transformation in a person's relationship with their name. Furthermore, this relationship with the name is, at times, much more central and important than any surgical procedure, because what it underlines is that each and every gender experience depends on a reconhecimento others to actually take effect. In our society, therefore, with each call to school, enrollment at university or filling out the timesheet at work, we affirm or delegitimize a given identity. Depriving someone of this basic coordinate of self-assumption as a singularity is the social equivalent, silently daily, of the physical violence suffered by hundreds of people in the country where the most LGBTTQI population is killed in the world.
The victory in the STF, obtained through pressure from social movements, is important in yet another aspect: it allows the name to be rectified without the need for surgery, psychological reports or the hiring of lawyers. Beatriz Bagagli recalls that the de-medicalization and de-judicialization of this process are significant not only because they emancipate part of the population from the direct incidence of this medical-legal knowledge and powers, but because they allow a large number of trans people without financial means to enjoy the right to a name.
Thus, just as feminists burned bras as a symbolic act of their liberation, today transvestites and transsexuals, as suggested by Hailey Kaas, can burn the reports that, for so long, served as shackles of their full experience as subjects of law. Such a gesture should not be seen as a simple identity demand that blindly believes in the identity of the self with itself, nor as a threat of radical fluidity that does not recognize norms and limits and elevates individual freedom to the condition of a fundamental principle. It is, rather, the affirmation that all personal fulfillment depends, inexorably, on the coordinates of legal and social recognition and, therefore, on the bond with the other.
As the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used to say, the fact that there are only two sexes in the civil registry does not prevent there being, always and for everyone, a choice. But this choice, he underlines, will always be a kind of authorization that passes not only through oneself, but through others: we become subjects precisely in this gap between our singular unity and the constellation of others who name us. Let us therefore celebrate the discovery of yet another star in our vast human universe.
* Pedro Ambra is a psychoanalyst. Doctor from USP and the Sorbonne Paris Cité, he is the author of several books and articles on psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality. Contributor of page B