Camila Sosa Villada, the writer fighting for transgender rights in Argentina
'Bad Girls,' which was just been translated into English, reflects her personal experiences as a transgender individual in her country.
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In 2019, Camila Sosa Villada published Las malas, a novel inspired by the suffering and personal struggle it meant for this Argentine writer and actress growing up as a 'travesti' in her country. Three years later, the book, which has become a best-seller in the Spanish-speaking market, will be published in May in the U.S. under the title Bad Girls by Other Press).
The novel is set in the Argentine city of Cordoba in the 1990s and tells the story of the coming of age of a young girl named Camila, who is born poor and a boy in a provincial town near the city, and whose parents violently reject him when, as a teenager, she starts dressing as a girl. At eighteen, she moves to the city to study at the university and at night, to support herself financially, she becomes a sex worker. Her story unfolds as she encounters a group of more experienced transgender individuals who teach and protect her, and with whom she shares daily doses of cruelty, pain and humiliation, but also solidarity and joy.
As a story of gender oppression, Bad Girls is universal, especially in today's America, at a time when Texas seeks to punish trans families and other Republican-led states are restricting abortion rights, observes literary critic Graciela Mochkofsky in The New Yorker.
In Bad Girls, Sosa Villada posits some ways to counter LGBTQ+ hatred. One is to fight back: one scene in the book describes how a transgender person beats up a customers who is assaulting Camila and another fellow transgender person. Another way is to seek solace from the community. Finally, there is magic. One of the transgender characters, after much suffering, slowly turns into a bird. There are also headless men who have survived wars in foreign lands, and the matriarch of a boarding house, who is 187 years old. To register the transgender experience, however wrenchingly painful, as precious is the purpose of Bad Girls, concludes The New Yorker reviewer.
Coinciding with the English publication of her successful novel, Sosa also released Soy una tonta por quererte, nine stories also inspired by her biography in which there are number of transgender, queer, and vulnerable people who face life with courage and strength without falling into discouragement.
"To say that there is writing on the margins speaks of people having an idea that they are at the center of something. But my center has always been that landscape, that color, that purchasing power, those people, transgender individuals, queers, childhood, thorns, the constant struggle against nature so that it doesn't devour you or kidnap you at some point," Sosa explained in a recent interview with the online media outlet El Confidencial.