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Perpetual motion: Displacement of travestis from an ethnographic perspective

Moto-contínuo: deslocamentos de travestis em uma perspectiva etnográfica

Abstract

Intense mobility is a characteristic observed in the context of travestis who work in sex markets. Studies on the subject usually emphasize that this mobility is related to a project of refinement, social ascension, and greater social, symbolic, and economic well-being, besides serving as a project of transformation and beautification of the bodies. Based on ethnographic work, I argue that, in order to understand the various orders of displacements of travestis, it is necessary to understand such movements as a perpetual motion machine, and not as being determined by imperatives that would necessarily lead to displacements from one place to another in search of something - much less something exceptional. In the observed context, displacements are a way of being in the world. Events occur during the displacements, not because of them.

Keywords:
displacements; ethnography; travestis

Resumo

A intensa mobilidade é uma característica notada no contexto de travestis que atuam nos mercados do sexo. Os estudos sobre o tema costumam enfatizar que essa mobilidade possui relação com um projeto de refinamento, ascensão social, maior bem-estar social, simbólico e econômico; além de servir como um projeto de transformação e embelezamento dos corpos. Com base em um trabalho etnográfico, argumento que, para compreender as várias ordens de deslocamentos de travestis, é necessário compreender os movimentos como uma máquina de moto-contínuo, não como sendo determinados por imperativos que levariam necessariamente aos deslocamentos de um lugar para outro, em busca de algo, muito menos como algo excepcional. No contexto observado os deslocamentos são um modo de estar no mundo. Os eventos ocorrem durante os deslocamentos, não em função deles.

Palavras-chave:
deslocamentos; etnografia; travestis

Introduction: the displacements

Displacement is a striking characteristic of travestis1 1 This is a Brazilian Portuguese word that literally means “transvestite”, but a precise translation into English is not possible. Travestis have existed in Brazil for a long time, being male-designated individuals who take on a female identity and may or may not undergo sex reassignment surgery. Therefore, they do not identify as crossdressers, and the only word in English that could somewhat approach the meaning of travesti is “she-male”. This word, which is informal and quite aggressive, is appropriate insofar as travestis are highly segregated in Brazilian society, typically inhabiting the outskirts of cities and often resorting to prostitution in order to make a living. The precise differences between transsexuals and travestis have been controversial, since they may be colored by long-established prejudices in Brazilian society. who work in the sex markets. During the field research, statements about not being born in the city where we were, whatever it was, were recurrent and always pronounced with emphasis. From our first conversation, Raabe2 2 All the names of people involved in the fieldwork concerning this research have been changed in order to preserve their anonymity. told me that she was not from São Carlos (SP), and that she had only been in town for a few weeks and did not plan to stay long. This was a line that was often repeated by many other interlocutors. Many travestis claimed to come from cities such as Manaus (AM), Florianópolis (SC), Franca (SP), Ribeirão Preto (SP), São Bernardo do Campo (SP), Lima (Peru), São Paulo (SP), Campo Grande (MS), and said they had already passed through so many other cities, sometimes including cities in other countries (such as Spain, Italy, and Belgium).

Once, while talking to Raabe on Facebook, after unsuccessful attempts to find her again on the Streets3 3 "On the Streets" (in Portuguese, "na Rua"), spelled in italics and with a capital R, refers to the way travestis refer to the spaces outside the house. Despite also being a space of work and impersonality, the Streets are not the rest of the world outside the house (DaMatta, 1991). They constitute, like the turf (in Portuguese, "o pedaço") (Magnani, 2012), the intermediate space between the private and the public. And, insofar as it is a territory appropriated and produced by travestis and one that becomes a referential space for sex market, it also contains the "code-territory" (Perlongher, 1987), because it is also a territoriality expressed in a peculiar code, which provides categorical attributions to bodies and desires in movement, producing subjectivities, representing a movement of deterritorialization and also promoting a sort of reterritorialization (Rodrigues, 2019). , she told me that she was no longer in São Carlos (SP). I asked her why she had left, and received an emphatic answer: “There's no settling down with us; I'm not from there, I am from Franca, and now I'm in Piracicaba. I went there just to get to know the city and earn something. I don't tie myself down to one place [...]”.

The substantial academic production on the multiplicity of sex markets and street prostitution in Brazil has already pointed out that this activity has its specificities in urban public spaces, since it implies a high degree of mobility and people turnover (Fonseca, 1996FONSECA, Claudia. 1996. “A dupla carreira da mulher prostituta”. Estudos Feministas, vol. 4 (1): 7-33.; França, 2014FRANÇA, M. 2014. “Quando a intimidade sobe e desce as escadas da zona boêmia de Belo Horizonte”. Cadernos Pagu, 43: 321-346.; Patriarca, 2015PATRIARCA, Letizia. 2015. As corajosas: etnografando experiências travestis na prostituição. Dissertação em Antropologia Social, PPGAS - USP.; Piscitelli, 2013PISCITELLI, A. G. 2013. Trânsitos: brasileiras nos mercados transnacionais do sexo. Rio de Janeiro: Eduerj/Garamond/CLAM.; Olivar, 2013OLIVAR, J. M. N. 2013. Devir Puta: políticas da prostituição de rua na experiência de quatro mulheres militantes. Rio de Janeiro: Eduerj.; Sales, 2013SALES, Ana Paula Luna. 2013. “Espaços de prostituição, espaços de dominação”. In: S. Simões et al. (orgs.), Prostituição e outras formas de amor. Rio de Janeiro: EdUFF, pp. 211-235.; Santos, 2012SANTOS, Rafael F. G. 2012. As aparências enganam? O fazer-se travesti em Campos dos Goytacazes - RJ. Dissertação de Mestrado, UERJ.; Osborne, 2004OSBORNE, Raquel. 2004. Trabajador@s del sexo - Derechos, migraciones y tráfico en el siglo XXI. Barcelona: Bellaterra.). Specific works on travestis even attest to the difficulty of conducting field research with them because of their constant mobility (Pelúcio, 2009PELÚCIO, Larissa. 2009. Abjeção e Desejo - uma etnografia travesti sobre o modelo preventivo de AIDS. São Paulo: Editora Annablume.; Kulick, 2008KULICK, D. 2008. Travesti: prostituição, sexo, gênero e cultura no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fiocruz.; Nascimento, 2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411.; Vartabedian, 2012VARTABEDIAN, Julieta. 2012. Geografía travesti: Cuerpos, sexualidad y migraciones de travestis brasileñas (Rio de Janeiro-Barcelona). Tesis Doctorals - Departament - Antropologia Cultural i Història d'Amèrica i d'Àfrica Universitat de Barcelona.; Benedetti, 2012BENEDETTI, M. 2012. Toda Feita: o corpo e o gênero das travestis. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond. ; Silva, 1993SILVA, H. R. S. 1993. Travesti: a invenção do feminino. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará/Iser.; Teixeira, 2008TEIXEIRA, Flávia. 2008. “L’Italia dei Divieti: entre o sonho de ser européia e o babado da prostituição”. Cadernos Pagu, 31: 275-308.).

In the context of this study, displacements are of fundamental importance and reveal, also, central aspects in the construction of relationships. Thus, this work focuses on the fact that the people who participated in the field research are constantly on the move, never “settling down” and never “tying themselves down to one place”. The goal here is to analyze the various meanings that the displacements may contain, and examine what they can reveal about the dynamics of the existential transits of these travestis.

The term displacement, employed by me, does not correspond exactly, but is related to the terms “movement” and “action”, used at different times in anthropology4 4 Evans Pritchard (1978), when observing the Nuer, pointed out the importance of being aware of the movement, dynamism, and displacements of people. The renewed studies of the Manchester School (Feldman-Bianco, 1987) addressed the displacements, analyzing the new urban logics arising from the displacement of populations - the "undesirables", "nationless" people without rights due to wars, exile and other forms of violence, mainly in Asia and Africa (for example, the camps in Dadaab, northeastern Kenya, filled with Somali, Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees). . I use the word displacement based on the ideas of “never settling down” and “never tying oneself down to one place”, in order to approach the originality of the characteristics of the movements carried out by travestis in this context. Displacement, therefore, indicates both movement and action: A way of being in the world, a way of building relationships and constructing oneself.

In addition to geographical displacements, the transvestites displayed many other orders of displacements in meaning and significance. These displacements are not only contextual projects of the individuals, but intrinsic to and a component of the relationships in that context. As a result, travestis move through cities that are not usually mentioned in studies about travestis, transsexuals, and even homosexualities. As Nascimento (2018NASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2018. “Desire-cities: a transgender ethnography in the urban boundaries”. Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology, 15(1), e151501. Epub October 22, 2018.https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-43412017v15n1a501.
https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-43412017v15...
) reminds us, most research on these subjects focuses on capitals and metropolitan regions, presenting them as typically urban phenomena - but an “urban” that is closely associated with metropolises.

Hélio Silva (1993SILVA, H. R. S. 1993. Travesti: a invenção do feminino. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará/Iser.; 1996SILVA, H. R. S. 1996. Certas cariocas - travestis e vida de rua no Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumará.; 2007SILVA, H. R. S. 2007. Travesti: entre o espelho e a rua. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.), seeking to understand the relationship between a travesti identity and society, showed that, in big cities, travestis no longer needed to hide, as they did until the mid-1980s. In the 1990s, a series of works directly associated travestis, prostitution and metropolises, claiming it to be a phenomenon specific to big cities (Oliveira, 1997OLIVEIRA, Marcelo. 1997. O lugar do travesti em desterro. Florianópolis: PPGAS/UFSC.; Pirani, 1997PIRANI, Denise. 1997. Quands les lumières de la ville s’éteignent: minorités et clandestinités à Paris. Le cas des travestis. Doctoral Thesis, Paris, EHESS.; Jayme, 2001JAYME, Juliana. 2001. Travestis, transformistas, drag-queens, transexuais: personagens e máscaras no cotidiano de Belo Horizonte e Lisboa. Tese de Doutorado em Antropologia. Campinas, Unicamp.; Kulick, 2008KULICK, D. 2008. Travesti: prostituição, sexo, gênero e cultura no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fiocruz.; Florentino, 1998FLORENTINO, Cristina de Oliveira. 1998. Bicha tu tens na barriga, eu sou mulher: etnografia sobre travestis em Porto Alegre. Dissertação de mestrado em Antropologia, Florianópolis, PPGAS/UFSC.).

Since the early 2000s, research on travestis has diversified its themes, addressing issues related to the construction of the body, identity and sexuality, generational differences, migration, forms of violence, etc. (Benedetti, 2012BENEDETTI, M. 2012. Toda Feita: o corpo e o gênero das travestis. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond. ; Carrara & Vianna, 2006CARRARA, Sérgio; VIANNA, Adriana. 2006. “Tá lá o corpo estendido no chão”: a violência letal contra travestis no município do Rio de Janeiro”. PHYSIS: Rev. Saúde Coletiva, 16(2): 233-249.; Bento, 2006BENTO, Berenice. 2006. A Reinvenção do Corpo: sexualidade e gênero na experiência transexual. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .; Teixeira, 2011TEIXEIRA, Flávia. 2011. “Juízo e sorte: enrendando maridos e clientes nas narrativas sobre o projeto migratório das travestis brasileiras na Itália”. In: A. Piscitelli, G. Assis & J. Olivar (orgs.), Gênero, sexo, amor e dinheiro: mobilidades transnacionais envolvendo o Brasil. Campinas: Coleção Encontros, Pagu/Unicamp. pp. 225-262.; Duque, 2011DUQUE, Thiago. 2011. Montagens e desmontagens: desejo, estigma e vergonha entre travestis adolescentes. São Paulo: Annablume.; Siqueira, 2009SIQUEIRA, Monica Soares. 2009. Arrasando horrores! Uma etnografia das memórias, formas de sociabilidade e itinerários urbanos de travestis das antigas. Tese de Doutorado em Antropologia, Florianópolis, UFSC.; Lima, 2009LIMA, Aline Soares. 2009. Quem sou eu: autorrepresentações de travestis no Orkut. Dissertação de mestrado em Cultura Visual, UFG; Leite Jr., 2011LEITE JR., Jorge. 2011. Nossos corpos também mudam: a invenção das categorias travesti e “transexual” no discurso científico. São Paulo: Annablume .). However, these works still focused on and carried out their research in large cities. Only after 2005 has research about travestis started to include medium-sized cities and the northeast of Brazil (Vale, 2005VALE, Alexandre Fleming. 2005. O vôo da beleza - travestilidade e devir minoritário. Doctoral Thesis, Fortaleza, UFC.; Maia, 2006MAIA, Denise. 2006. Mulheres e travestis trabalhadoras do sexo em Recife: um desafio para a política de prevenção às DST/HIV e AIDS. Dissertação de mestrado em Saúde Pública, Recife, Fundação Osvaldo Cruz.; Nascimento, 2014bNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014b. “Corpo-afeto, corpo-violência: experiências na prostituição de estrada na Paraíba”. Revista Ártemis, XVIII(1): 69-86.; Patrício, 2008PATRÍCIO, Cecilia. 2008. No truque: transnacionalidade e distinção entre travestis brasileiras. Tese de doutorado em Antropologia, Recife, UFPE.; Pelúcio, 2009PELÚCIO, Larissa. 2009. Abjeção e Desejo - uma etnografia travesti sobre o modelo preventivo de AIDS. São Paulo: Editora Annablume. Cardozo, 2009CARDOZO, Fernanda. 2009. Das dimensões da coragem: socialidades, conflitos e moralidades entre travestis em uma cidade no sul do Brasil. Dissertação de Mestrado em Antropologia, Florianópolis, UFSC., Guerra, 2015GUERRA, Verônica Alcântara. 2015. “Sou salobra”: travestilidade, lazer e sociabilidade no litoral norte da Paraíba. Dissertação de Mestrado, Antropologia Social, Universidade Federal da Paraíba.).

The travestis I have worked with move around a variety of cities, no matter how big or small, whether they are capitals or in the countryside, or whether there is a preference for the main capitals of the country. Thus, the three cities where I conducted fieldwork (São Carlos/SP, Franca/SP and Campo Grande/MS),5 5 This work was funded by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) and FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation); process n° 2016/08210-2. between the years 2016 and 2020, seem to be somewhat different from the landscapes featured in the main works in the field, which focused on capital cities and metropolitan regions.6 6 The "choice" of these cities was based on empirical motivations. That is, by following my interlocutors, I arrived to these cities. There was no previous planning. What defines a capital city, a country town, whether a city is small or medium-sized, is a static classification that dialogues with institutional, political and administrative orderings, and which is external to the travestis. The cities, for them, are also built through their displacements. This gives rise to a reflection on a possible "travesti city", but it would be necessary to present another ethnographic approach to consolidate this argument, and more elaborate analytical twists that are not the purpose of this study. The displacements happen without needing a project, or even any previous planning, nor through built, stable and organized networks. During these geographical displacements, many other displacements are experienced - related to relationships, bodies, and gender,7 7 The mechanisms and relations created by travestis to carry out their geographical as well as body-gender displacements are beyond the scope of this article. I intend to address them soon in another publication. thus highlighting the condition of constant displacement as a way of being in the world for these travestis.

Ethnography helped us realize that travestis do not move in order to modify their bodies, or to construct a gender identity, or to acquire material and symbolic goods, for the sake of distinction, or solely and exclusively to work. All of these things occur during displacements, but not as an ultimate purpose and/or goal. The high level of creativity and sophistication of the travestis is remarkable, making it evident that there is no simple and direct relationship between displacement and work, that is, one does not travel only to work. There is also no established causality between bodily transitions and sex markets, i.e., they do not modify their bodies as a function of a ruthless imposition of the market. There are clients8 8 The common expression used by travestis to refer to the activity they performed was programa (the act of having a sexual encounter and receiving payment for it), and the people who requested the programas were called clientes (clients) or mariconas, depending on the sexual preference of the client. Mariconas are "male" clients who enjoy being penetrated by a travesti. who appreciate specific shapes and bodies, but travestis do not modify their bodies solely and exclusively to please their clients. There is still no correlation between the displacements and the transitions of the bodies, which means that the travestis do not travel to modify their bodies or plan a course that is aimed at this purpose.

The dimension of work comes into view, since I conducted my field research while they were working. However, I emphasize that the travestis are not limited to the work or to the specificity of the activity they perform, which would place them in a presumably precarious situation that would require them to constantly move around. Thus, what I highlight is their way of understanding and being in the world, which involves not only economic aspects, but multiple orders of intertwined relations in life. If work can be one of the reasons for the displacements, it is fundamental to understand work as an integral part of life, not as a determining infrastructure that produces all the other relations.

With that in mind, what follows in this article is an effort to portray the displacements carried out by travestis in a particular context, so as to capture the complexity of their movements, highlighting the ingenuity, depth, and intelligence of my interlocutors. I argue that these displacements occur continuously, as parts in a perpetual motion machine, which reuses indefinitely the energy generated by its own movement. I use this metaphor in order to help the reader visualize the displacements as movement and action, and a way of being in the world.

This article presents the geographical displacements and relations through ethnographic accounts that highlight the displacements witnessed in Campo Grande (MS) between 2016 and 2020. Then I propose that the displacements understood as being in perpetual motion find dialogue with the so-called "mobility turn" (Freire-Medeiros and Lages, 2020FREIRE-MEDEIROS, B.; LAGES, M. P. 2020. “A virada das mobilidades: fluxos, fronteiras e fricções”. Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais, 123: 121-142.) and with recent anthropological productions, such as that of Silvana Nascimento (2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411.; 2014b) on the "interstitial places" that allow for the existence of a way of life during displacement; also, that of Guedes (2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .) and Machado (2014aMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014a. “Migração, deslocamentos e as franjas do parentesco”. R@U: Revista de Antropologia Social da UFSCAR, 6: 130-145.; 2014b), who present the idea of "mobility as value" and regard movement as a producer of differences. With this, I hope to offer some contribution to the field of "anthropology of mobilities" (Souza and Guedes, 2021SOUZA, C. V; GUEDES, A. D. (orgs.). 2021. Antropologia das mobilidades. Brasília: ABA Publicações.: 09).

Georgraphical displacements

At first, it is possible to understand the “never settling down” and “never tying oneself down to one place” as a sign that travestis do not stay for long periods in the same city. Moreover, we can see that there are displacements of various intensities and lengths in the context of travestis involved in sex markets. The following displacements will be presented through ethnographic accounts, emphasizing the expressions “never settling down” and “never tying oneself down to one place” in particular, highlighting the displacement as a way of being in the world - not as a function, or as something planned, or the result of a project that sets routes and goals, but as perpetual motion, that is, both producing and being the product of relationships.

I met Natasha in São Carlos (SP) at a time when things were not going very well for her. On a hot Thursday night, I went with Raabe to a bar called “De Ponta Cabeça”9 9 Portuguese for “Upside Down” (TN). , and we saw Natasha unconscious, lying on a line of chairs at the back of the establishment. We used my car to take her to the house in which she was staying, and made sure she was going to be okay. The aid was completely unselfish, but from that day on Natasha and I established a relationship. The next day I found a message from her on Facebook thanking me for the gesture. When I looked for her again to resume my fieldwork, I was very well received, "You helped me the other day, so I am going to help you now".

Natasha was born in Campo Grande (MS), is 36 years old and has been working in the sex markets for about fifteen years. In the beginning, according to her, "she hadn't become a travesti yet", she only took "female hormones" and performed as a "Drag Queen/transvestite" at nightclubs for the LGBTQIA+ public in Campo Grande. Because she had relatives in Dourados (MS) (about 230km from Campo Grande) and knew Flávia, one of the oldest travestis in the city, she went there to spend some time working.

Flávia was born in Aquidauana, another city in the countryside of Mato Grosso do Sul, but she was in Dourados (MS) for Natasha's debut in the sex markets. Flávia, a friend of Vera’s (one of the travestis who manage houses that provide accommodation to travestis in the city of São Carlos), said that the "novata"10 10 Portuguese for “newcomer” (TN). would do well in São Carlos, that the city was good and she would make a decent amount of money there. Natasha says that Flávia "persuaded me. I went to Campo Grande, packed my bags, grabbed all the things I needed and, on January 7th 2013, I think, I went to São Carlos, me and a friend of mine".

Natasha was a friend of Raabe's; our meeting was fortuitous and took place in a situation where she needed help. However, from this meeting came a relationship of reciprocity and an invitation to visit her hometown. The trip from São Carlos (SP) to Campo Grande (MS) took a little more than 12 hours of naps interrupted by numerous bus stops. It was hot, and at 7 a.m. the sun was already out and strong. I had forgotten about the one-hour difference between our different time zones, and woke up Natasha with messages announcing my arrival. Our conversation was brief, and we agreed to meet on the Streets at night.

At the agreed location, after waiting for 10 minutes, I saw Natasha getting out of a car and walking towards the corner where I was waiting for her. She was wearing a short basic black dress, high-heeled sandals, and was carrying a handbag. At the intersection of 7 de Setembro St. and 14 de Julho St., in the city center, we greeted each other. She quickly told me about how things worked on the Streets, how the space was divided, its dangers, conveniences, schedules, and people. The conversation flowed as if we had just seen each other a few days before. We laughed, we remembered the day when we first met and I learned that, in São Carlos (SP), after the third month of her stay, things had not been so great: "Many negative things happened to me in Sanca [São Carlos (SP)] and that is why I’ve never returned". According to her, she had gotten "involved with the wrong people", and she'd had problems and a minor altercation with the travesti running the house that offered room rentals to those coming from other cities - or "de fora"11 11 Portuguese for “from outside” (TN). , as she would say.

In Campo Grande (MS), Natasha and I met every night. We’d talk on the street corner, either standing or sitting on the steps of a store that closed at night. On occasion, we would walk to a bar on Fernando Corrêa da Costa Av. (two blocks down) to grab a drink, then we'd go back. My presence did not disturb or scare away the customers; when she went away for a programa, I would either stand on the corner talking to other travestis and male prostitutes, or I'd walk around the area.

Campo Grande is the capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, with 885,000 inhabitants, according to the latest census by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). It is situated in the south of the Midwest region of Brazil. Besides the fact that the capital is geographically close to the Brazilian border with Paraguay and Bolivia, the state of Mato Grosso do Sul is also home to a large indigenous population composed of various ethnicities (atikum, guarani kaiowá, guarani ñandeva, guató, kadiwéu, kiniquinau, ofaié, and terena), and this all results in a great variety of accents, cultural exchanges, and plenty of clients.

This city is the main reference for education, business, and leisure for many smaller towns in the region. The flow of goods, money and people is constant, and this is why there are customers for the sex markets every night. However, it is important to point out that the customers are not just people from other places. On Wednesday nights, for example, the "market" becomes very busy, and most of the clients are young men from Campo Grande (MS) who are involved in stable relationships, and therefore act so as to keep their business with the travestis a secret, "Little do they know, their girlfriends, because they're over there, suspecting nothing, while their men lie about watching the game with their buddies, okay? So the guys take a picture, they send their girls a selfie, and then go crazy behind their backs. 'I'll just be at this or that place with the boys', they say, 'Nothing special, no big deal', right? And they go out thinking they'll hook up with a girl, but end up hooking up with a travesti. That's how it is", revealed Natasha, explaining the way many of her clients deceive their partners and friends.

The sex market services offered on the Streets in Campo Grande (MS) can be found at several locations at night: along the Costa e Silva Avenue - from Vila Olinda up to just outside the city center; in some blocks of Calarge Street - in the Vila Glória neighborhood, in particular next to the Vespasiano Martins State School; around the bus station (even if only on occasion); in some parts of Julio de Castilho Avenue and downtown, where Natasha usually is, close to the Ary Coelho Square, at the corner of 7 de Setembro St. with 14 de Julho St., as previously mentioned.

The city center, during the day, is mostly busy with commercial activities and services. There is an abundance of street commerce on the sidewalks, stores with popular prices and a "camelódromo" - a building constructed by the city government to house most of these street traders and which takes on the aspect of a "popular market", with clothing and shoe stores as well as a large supply of mobile phones and related products (covers, chargers, headphones etc.). During weekdays, the flow of people and the volume of purchases does not seem so great. One gets the impression of an "old city center", forgotten or ignored12 12 In August 2018, the city government, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, launched a "downtown revitalization" project. The project was extensive, and it was designed to last 5 years, promising to completely change the layout of downtown Campo Grande, e.g., by moving pole-supported overhead power and telephone cables underground. The main goal of the project was to build sidewalks and pedestrianize the city center. , especially when one walks down the Afonso Pena Avenue, leaving the square towards the Campo Grande Shopping Mall and Parque das Nações Indígenas. The urban landscape changes along this route. In the neighborhoods Jardim dos Estados and Santa Fé, there are designer fashion stores, bank offices, a SESC unit, fast food outlets and, as previously mentioned, the mall and the park.

The Ary Coelho Square occupies an entire block in the city center and has four bus stops, one for each of the surrounding streets: 15 de Novembro St., 14 de Julho St., 13 de Maio St., and Afonso Pena Avenue. It is usually where cultural events take place but, despite being well lit at night, it stays empty, merely a place for people to pass through, most of the time. If, during the day, the city center is busy with commercial activity, the same can be said about it at night, when it is occupied by people who work in the sex markets. In addition to the sex workers, there are also drug users and sellers, especially near the church cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Abadia e Santo Antônio.

In the city center, travestis usually can be found in the area southwest of the Ary Coelho Square, especially along the streets 15 de Novembro, 7 de Setembro and 26 de Agosto. The male prostitutes tend to stay in the area south of the square, between the streets 14 de Julho and 13 de Maio. The women, in turn, usually go southeast, past 13 de Maio Street. These separations, although generally agreed upon, are not set in stone. It is not uncommon, for instance, to see male prostitutes in the company of travestis. Women circulate less frequently outside their "territories", although that does happen as well.

In the area occupied by women, travestis and male prostitutes, there is only one small bar and a street food cart on the corner of 15 de Novembro St. with 14 de Julho St., in front of the square. On a Wednesday night, at around 11:30 pm, I had a snack on the corner while listening to the male prostitutes chatting about rap and waiting for Natasha to return from a show. That night, I requested that we record an interview. The more formal conversation allowed me to ask certain questions that, during our normal daily interactions, did not feel very appropriate. I asked, for example, about the dynamics of the Streets, their spatial divisions and the categorization of bodies, in addition to seeking to better understand the displacements.

In Campo Grande (MS), as in São Carlos (SP), the places occupied in the city are called the Streets. However, in the latter, occupations by travestis, as previously mentioned, take place only in the area along Getúlio Vargas Avenue, which is divided into "frente" (front), "trás" (back), "dentro" (inside), "fundo" (bottom) and "baixo" (lower). In the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, however, there is not just one region that is regarded as the Streets. Thus, divisions are made all over the city. Besides female and male prostitutes, the city center is usually occupied by the younger travestis (aged 18 to 22 years old) who wear more clothes to work. Around the bus station and along Costa e Silva Avenue are the young travestis who wear less clothing, and the older ones (over 50 years old). "The most 'cacura', the oldest ones who've ever lived here stay there". "Cacura?", I ask. "Yes. The really old ones, the walking fossils" [laughter]. The travestis working along Júlio Castilho Avenue are older too (over 40), except that they are more "dressed up". "The older girls are all so shapely, you know? Like the old-school travestis, like Vera. The ones over there at Julio de Castilho, they are the ones who dress up more, like drag queens, right?". Finally, according to Natasha, the ones that hang out at Calarge Street are mostly drug users.

The travestis who come to the city have many different origins. Most of them come from the countryside of Mato Grosso do Sul and other states. This offers confirmation to our initial perception and to our dialogue with the existing literature, which affirms that there is a close relationship between mobility and the sex markets, as well as displacements and the travestis. Even the travestis who are "from the city" and who were there during the time when I conducted my fieldwork, reported numerous experiences with displacements.

After this first visit to Campo Grande (MS), I traveled back to São Carlos (SP), but we agreed that I would soon return. We kept in touch, but Natasha postponed the new meeting several times, frustrating my attempts. My intention was to expand the observation to other regions of the city occupied by travestis but, when I finally managed to return to Campo Grande (MS), I remained restricted to the downtown area - not because I wanted to, but because Natasha dodged all my requests that we go to other areas together13 13 There is an unspoken agreement concerning the occupation of spaces in cities by those who offer programas on the Streets. I believe that, because of this, Natasha avoided going to other places. In a previous work (Rodrigues, 2019), I addressed issues related to the creation, occupation, uses, disputes and appropriation of spaces in the sex markets in São Carlos (SP), dialoguing with categories such as the turf (Magnani, 2012) and the Code-territory (Perlongher, 1987). It would be interesting, at another time, to expand and deepen a specific reflection about Campo Grande (MS), taking also into account recent contributions on sex markets, prostitution and sex work in Campo Grande (Passamani, Rosa and Lopes, 2020). . I thought it would not be wise to go alone for two reasons: The fear of not being welcomed (because I had not been recommended by anyone), and the fear of causing some unpleasantness with those who had invited me to be in town.

Displacements of relationships

During the nights we would meet and hang out on the Streets. Sometimes early, from around 8 pm to 1 am, or later, starting at around 10 pm and saying our good nights at 3 in the morning. Once, while we were sitting on the steps of a closed store, a travesti approached and greeted Natasha. They were friends who had not seen each other for some time. Virgínia didn't even wait to be introduced and told me that she had spent some time in the city of São Paulo, which was the reason she had been "missing". She was thinking of working with other things, she'd had a job interview for a snack bar, and later that week she was going to go through a selection process for a clothing store. According to her, the position at the snack bar had already been secured, but working at the store would be better. Curiously, in the course of the conversation - which went into the early hours of the morning, as they shared memories, laughed, exchanged thoughts on the next edition of the "miss gay" contest, and complained that the Streets were not "busy enough" that night - Virgínia asked "Do you know anyone in Rio Preto? São José do Rio Preto?". After I told her I didn't, she continued, "I want to go there, but I don't know anyone in the city anymore. Luciana Close used to live there, but she's gone to Italy with Rafa. She once told me that it was nice there, but I still would like to go with someone I know to see for myself". "But didn't you get a job?" asked Natasha, to which Virgínia replied, "And why should a job stop me from traveling?".

One Friday, early in the evening, I texted Natasha to find out what time we would be meeting on the Streets. We exchanged a few messages and, at first, we were not going to see each other because she was going to spend the night with a client - which was not surprising, it had happened before. However, after two hours, she texted me saying that she was going to be free at around 1:00 am and she intended to return to the Streets, despite the late hour. After this, she offered to take me somewhere, to a party called "Join". I had rented a car that day, intending to drive around all the areas occupied by travestis and confirm the information I had been given. I told Natasha about my plan, but she was less than thrilled about it: "Going to these places may not be a good idea because, in general, the travestis from Costa are the oldest in town, and they don't like interviews, that kind of thing. They are very reserved, you know? And on Calarge, the queers over there are, like, drug users, and so on. Some of them, right? Others aren't, but they don't like to give interviews either, not when they're working". However, since we were going to meet at a late hour and I had already rented the car, I went against her recommendation and drove around the city.

Indeed, on Costa e Silva Avenue and near the Bus Station there were young travestis wearing little clothing - or very little, putting their bare breasts and buttocks on display; a few older travestis could be seen as well. On Júlio de Castilho I also saw travestis who were very well "dressed up", but I cannot say if they were older than those who occupied the city center. On Calarge Street, I saw few of them and, concerning those who I was able to observe, it was not possible to say whether they were using any kind of substance, as Natasha had suggested. In the downtown area, however, while walking near the church cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Abadia e Santo Antônio, and as Natasha was away with a client, more than once I was offered cocaine and crack by drug dealers.

Just before 1 am, I found Natasha visibly drunk. She jumped into the car, greeting me excitedly, "What kind of car is this? Shall we go for a drive?". In her hands was a small plastic bottle of brandy, "Oh, sorry. I'm drunk. The Streets are dead tonight, I went with just that one", she was referring to the client she had told me about earlier. While I was driving, not knowing where we were going, we kept talking. Very agitated, she asked if I could turn my mobile phone into a wi-fi router. At the time, I had no idea how to do that, but she borrowed my phone and was able to access the internet on her device through mine. She sent a voice message to a friend, letting her know we were going to "Join" (the party). "Stay out front and wait. We're coming, bitch! I'm going with a friend of mine". After she was done with the message, she started teaching me the way to the party. On the way, I asked if her "husband" would be joining us at the party. We had talked on the phone before this trip, and she had told me about this "boy", a male prostitute who also worked in the downtown area. However, I learned at that moment that they were no longer together, "he cheated on me with a trans woman! These days he's hooked on the rock [crack]. I don't care about that piece of trash anymore!", and that is how she gave me an update on her marital status.

On Ernesto Geisel Avenue she took a quick sip of cognac and started feeling sick. I stopped the vehicle. She opened the door and got out of the car to take some air and try and recover. She came back into the car, closed the door and realized that she was not well: "Please take me downtown. I'm really sorry". We went back downtown. At a hotel near the Santo Antônio church, she asked me to stop, because she was friends with the receptionist. She went in, freshened up a little, and returned slightly more composed, smoking a cigarette. "I think it's better if you leave me right here". We weren't going to the party anymore.

Even though I was worried, I left her and went back to the place where I was staying. I tried to get in touch with her through phone calls and messages. No success. At around 3:30 am I returned to the Streets but could not find her. The only news was that she had gotten into a gray (or silver) car and had not yet returned. In the morning (at about 7:00 am), Natasha answered my messages, saying that she was fine. According to her, she had been up all night. She apologized and said that we should meet at night, and go to another party together (one called "Corrida das Drags"), where there would be a drag queen contest and she was going to be a judge. However, in the middle of the afternoon, she told me that I would have to represent her at "Corrida das Drags" because she had gotten into a fight, was "all bruised up" and would no longer be going to the party. She referred me to Andromeda Black (one of the drag queens organizing the event) and put us in touch by phone.

Andromeda Black was very receptive, but showed some irritation when I arrived alone, because Natasha had not confirmed her absence: "You can't trust travestis, they always blow us off", complained the drag queen all dressed in yellow (wearing extremely high heels, stockings and a tight dress). Then, she told me I could not be a judge, because nobody there knew me and this could cause a stir among the participants. According to Andromeda, appointing Natasha as one of the judges was intended as a way of recognizing and honoring her. She had been one of the "pioneers" among the city's Drag Queens, before becoming a travesti. "Practically all of them became travestis", Andromeda added14 14 I learned from Andromeda that there had been an important Drag Queens movement at the end of the first decade of 2000, in the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and that practically all the drags from that time are now travestis, most of them working in the sex markets. It would be interesting to conduct a study on this specific displacement (from drag to travesti). However, during my fieldwork, this information was isolated and without recurrence. Because of this, I do not have enough elements for further development. .

"Corrida das Drags" is organized by drag queens from the city and surrounding region. It consists in showing an episode of the series/reality show RuPaul's Drag Race (hence the name "Corrida das Drags" - which is Portuguese for "drag race", a literal translation intended as a joke, "but nobody's racing anyone here, please remain calm", explained Andromeda, laughing), then a performance by one of the competing drag queens, the judges' assessment, and then a performance by a guest drag queen. The party has an itinerant character, the number of editions following the number of episodes of the TV series, and with each new season the event is held at some performance venue or nightclub in the city. On this occasion, the event was being held at a venue called "Resista!", located in the downtown area, in front of "Orla Ferroviária15 15 This square was built on the old location of Campo Grande's railroad tracks. The space is part of a "cultural corridor" next to the city's Horto Florestal (a municipal nursery), Mercadão Municipal (a wholesale produce market), Camelódromo, and Orla Morena. . The house, whose events are mainly geared towards an "underground audience", with more emphasis on rock/metal/death/trash/grind bands, has been the best house in town for "Corrida das Drags", "even better than the gay and LGBTQIA+ nightclubs", said Andromeda.

The heat in Campo Grande (MS) gave no respite, even at the end of summer. At about 8 pm, an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race was played on a big screen inside "Resista!", but many preferred to stay outside on the sidewalk, chatting, drinking and hoping for a breeze to cool off a little. The highlight of the evening were the performances by the drags "Pam Venus" and "Rafa Spears". They presented their performances to a good and lively audience that went back outside as soon as the performances were over. The sound was loud and the party was happening more outside than inside the venue. That is, until the police arrived.

The police had been called because someone had reported that minors were consuming alcohol at "Orla Ferroviária"; the treatment dispensed by the police officers, however, was highly excessive. They arrived with several cars, motorcycles, emergency lights on, sirens blaring, jumping out of their cars with guns in their hands, spreading panic and terror. The young people started to run. We, who were on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, only stood there watching, but it didn't take long for an officer to arrive and "ask" us to disperse. The doors of the house were then shut, and we dispersed. I was invited to resume the party at another nightclub ("Sis Lounge", located near Campo Grande Shopping Mall), but I chose to look for Natasha on the Streets, instead. Without success.

In two days, the flow of information as well as the changes in behaviors, plans, relationships and commitments had been fast and intense. First, Natasha and I were not going to meet - then, yes, we were, but the scheduled time changed several times; then, the invitation to go to "Join", Natasha's breakup, no longer going to "Join", Natasha's disappearance, the invitation to be a judge at "Corrida das Drags", Natasha getting into a fight, then refusing to show up at "Corrida das Drags" and, finally, my (denied) nomination as a judge in a drag queens contest. This dynamic is not episodic. The difficulties in finding people again, scheduling meetings, fixing schedules, along with changes in relationships, plans and behavior, these are all added to the heterogeneity and spontaneity of the displacements.

This whole scenario supports the idea of constant movement in its context. However, the displacements are of various kinds, and they are not circumscribed or limited only to geographical displacements with the sole purpose of finding work. In particular, I have so far highlighted how there are changes and originalities in the displacements themselves, which could be expressed as "displacements within displacements", that is, displacements of relations within the geographic-spatial displacements. This idea of "displacements within displacements" is expressed without moral valuation, considering the displacements as being explainable in themselves, or even as not being the opposite of stability, and especially not taking stability as a desired presupposition.

Perpetual Motion

Recently, Candice Vidal e Souza and André Dumans Guedes, along with other researchers from different ethnographic contexts and subjects, have reflected on "what is and what could turn out to be an anthropology of mobilities" (Souza and Guedes, 2021: 09). The idea is that mobilities are not only central as constitutive of worlds. Thus, they recognize that these mobilities are a legitimate and prolific object of anthropology as an academic discipline. And they demonstrate how spatial displacements and movements have a central place in the lives of their interlocutors, and in how these people conceive and express such mobilities.

This anthropology of mobilities carries out a dialogue with the so-called "mobility turn", which configures an epistemic shift institutionalized in the early twenty-first century (Freire-Medeiros and Lages, 2020), thinking of mobilities as constituting an analytical perspective to study entangled phenomena of movement, representations and practices. In this epistemic turn we find mobility studies with a critique of migration studies. The critique of mobility studies is elaborated on the basis of the contrariety of analyses that oppose mobility and sedentarism, taking the latter as the norm (Schiller and Salazar, 2012SCHILLER, Nina Glick; SALAZAR, Noel. 2012. “Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(2): 183-200.).

Working with this contrasting pair can lead to the victimization, stigmatization, and condemnation of sex workers and prostitution, as it can lead to the assumption that travestis move compulsively because they lack options or opportunities. It may still suggest that they are not endowed with agency and the capacity for personal calculations, intellectual elaborations, and the creation of a way of being in the world. As exposed in the ethnographic report, Virgínia, when expressing her desire to get to know São José do Rio Preto (SP), did not express despair or suffer from lack of opportunities.16 16 It is important to point out that I am not disregarding transphobia, the killing of transgender people, and the unemployment rate among travestis and transgender people, which is more than double the national average (Benevides and Nogueira, 2021); I am only emphasizing that displacements have no direct causal relationship with this condition. . Adriana Piscitelli (2013PISCITELLI, A. G. 2013. Trânsitos: brasileiras nos mercados transnacionais do sexo. Rio de Janeiro: Eduerj/Garamond/CLAM.), on the migrations and mobilities of Brazilian sex workers to Europe, points out the empirical tensions and tactical choices that problematize the hyper-sexualization, victimization, and vulnerability that is always associated with these women.

Another effect of working with the binomial mobility-sedentarism is that of taking sedentarism as the norm. This leads to looking at people who are on the move as morally inferior. Moreover, as Liisa Malkki (1992MALKKI, L. 1992. “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees”. Cultural Anthropology, 7(1): 24-44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519
http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519...
) suggests, considering sedentarism as the rule can lead to problematic analytical consequences, as identities end up tied to territorialities, making it difficult to analyze "displaced and uprooted" people (Malkki, 1992).

According to Malkki (1992MALKKI, L. 1992. “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees”. Cultural Anthropology, 7(1): 24-44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519
http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519...
), naturalizing the linking of people to places produces a territorializing logic that is fed by botanically inspired metaphors in the form of arborescent roots, creating what she calls "metaphysical sedentarism" (Malkki, 1992:34). According to the author, sedentarism is taken for granted in our culture, to the point of being invisible, reflected in language and social practices, which look at displacement as pathological. Also according to Malkki (1992), these assumptions on sedentarism define displacement not as a fact within a social context, but as an internal, pathological condition of the displaced.

Raabe, Natasha, Virgínia and so many other travestis who displace themselves are neither morally inferior nor have any pathological condition. They present a way of being in the world that offers us the possibility of thinking about the complex relationships between mobilities and inertias, relationships between people, migratory regimes, and even identities, as Schiller and Salazar (2012SCHILLER, Nina Glick; SALAZAR, Noel. 2012. “Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(2): 183-200.) point out.

According to Gupta and Ferguson (2000GUPTA, Akhil; FERGUSON, James. 2000. “Mais além da ‘cultura’: espaço, identidade e política da diferença”. In: Antonio A. Arantes (org.), O espaço da diferença. Campinas: Ed. Unicamp, pp. 31-49.), people who are on the move do not have "less identity" or "less culture. On the contrary, these people reterritorialize the spaces through which they move, producing cultural differences that can be rightly thought of as linked to the experience of constant displacement. However, despite being important and interesting, these approaches still take displacement as a function or consequence of the changes that occurred in the world at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st (Hannerz, 1994HANNERZ, Ulf. 1994. “Cosmopolitas e locais na cultura global”. In:, Mike Featherstone (org.), Cultura global: nacionalismo, globalização e modernidade. Petrópolis, RJ: Editora Vozes, pp. 251-266.; Glick Schiller, 2015GLICK SCHILLER, Nina. 2015. “Diasporic cosmopolitanism: migrants, sociabilities and city-making”. In: N. Glick Schiller, & A. Irving (ed.), Whose cosmopolitanism?: critical perspectives, relationalities and discontents. New York: Berghahn. pp. 103-120.). And I believe that the ethnographic account presented here helps to minimally question whether the displacements of travestis are consonant with or resulting from the condition of the world in the twenty-first century.

Recent literature on travestis addresses issues concerning displacement and its implications. Kulick (2008KULICK, D. 2008. Travesti: prostituição, sexo, gênero e cultura no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fiocruz.) mentions in passing the existence of a migratory flow of travestis since the 1970s, with France as the preferred destination until 1982. For authors like Silva (1993SILVA, H. R. S. 1993. Travesti: a invenção do feminino. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará/Iser.), the trip to Europe means something more than a cosmopolitan experience, by crossing political and symbolic borders. And following a vision based on the logic of distinction, the author emphasizes that these countries offer dollars, foreign language, and refinement.

Teixeira (2008TEIXEIRA, Flávia. 2008. “L’Italia dei Divieti: entre o sonho de ser européia e o babado da prostituição”. Cadernos Pagu, 31: 275-308.) also points out that the displacement from Brazil to Europe is a recurring theme, that the experience in the sex markets and the dream of working in Europe are part of the universe of the travestis, creating a world of possibilities for social ascension. She also highlights that the migration of travestis is not linked to poverty, but to hopes for a better life.

This focus on the motivations for traveling to Europe resembles the work of Julieta Vartabedian (2012VARTABEDIAN, Julieta. 2012. Geografía travesti: Cuerpos, sexualidad y migraciones de travestis brasileñas (Rio de Janeiro-Barcelona). Tesis Doctorals - Departament - Antropologia Cultural i Història d'Amèrica i d'Àfrica Universitat de Barcelona., 2014VARTABEDIAN, Julieta. 2014. “Migraciones trans: travestis brasileñas migrantes trabajadoras del sexo en Europa”. Cadernos Pagu, 42: 275-312. https://doi.org/10.1590/0104-8333201400420275
https://doi.org/10.1590/0104-83332014004...
). According to the author, Brazilian travestis who have traveled and are traveling to Europe have a migratory project, referred to by her as "trans migration". Vartabedian claims that not only do they migrate seeking greater social, symbolic, and economic well-being, but also their geographical mobilizations affect the way they transform and beautify their bodies.

Larissa Pelúcio (2009PELÚCIO, Larissa. 2009. Abjeção e Desejo - uma etnografia travesti sobre o modelo preventivo de AIDS. São Paulo: Editora Annablume.) states that this migratory flow of travestis is accentuated in the 1980s and 1990s, establishing Italy as a main destination. She highlights what Margareth Rago (1989RAGO, Margareth. 1989. Os Prazeres da Noite: Prostituição e Códigos da Sexualidade Feminina em São Paulo. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.) had made evident: the link between immigration and sex work. The author calls attention to displacement as constitutive of travestility, and necessary in the construction of the sex market.

As pointed out by Piscitelli (2009PISCITELLI, A. G. 2009. “Tránsitos: circulación de brasileñas en el ámbito de la transnacionalización de los mercados sexual y matrimonial”. Horizontes Antropológicos, 31: 131-137.), research on sex markets shows that the people who work there are rarely included in academic studies on migration but, when they are, they appear in the role of victims. In fact, studies on the migrations of travestis are rare. The very expression "sex tourism" and related studies ignore several modalities of travel in search of homo sex (Luongo, 2000LUONGO, Michael. 2000. “The Use of Commercial Sex Venues and Male Escorts by Gay Tourists in New York City”. In: Stephen Clift and Simon Carter (eds.), Tourism and Sex: Culture, Commerce and Coercion. London: Pinter. pp. 109-130.). With regard to human trafficking, there are some similarities because, before 2005, according to the law, sex corresponded to gender. Thus, travestis were considered men and, therefore, outside the legal scope of this type of trafficking (Teixeira, 2008TEIXEIRA, Flávia. 2008. “L’Italia dei Divieti: entre o sonho de ser européia e o babado da prostituição”. Cadernos Pagu, 31: 275-308.).

I highlight the importance of the works of Kulick (2008KULICK, D. 2008. Travesti: prostituição, sexo, gênero e cultura no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fiocruz.), Silva (1993SILVA, H. R. S. 1993. Travesti: a invenção do feminino. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará/Iser.), Teixeira (2008TEIXEIRA, Flávia. 2008. “L’Italia dei Divieti: entre o sonho de ser européia e o babado da prostituição”. Cadernos Pagu, 31: 275-308.), Vartabedian (2012VARTABEDIAN, Julieta. 2012. Geografía travesti: Cuerpos, sexualidad y migraciones de travestis brasileñas (Rio de Janeiro-Barcelona). Tesis Doctorals - Departament - Antropologia Cultural i Història d'Amèrica i d'Àfrica Universitat de Barcelona.; 2014) and Pelúcio (2009PELÚCIO, Larissa. 2009. Abjeção e Desejo - uma etnografia travesti sobre o modelo preventivo de AIDS. São Paulo: Editora Annablume.). However, the contrast made here by varying ethnographic contexts offers a contribution that brings displacement to the center of the debate. It is possible to challenge these works by pointing out that Natasha, for example, has never traveled outside of Brazil, nor has she shown any interest in doing so. Furthermore, her displacements between Campo Grande (MS), Dourados (MS), São Carlos (SP), and those within the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, were not motivated by the need to cross political and symbolic borders, the hope for a better life, or body beautification.

What I have argued, based on my fieldwork, is that, in order to understand the various orders of displacements among travestis, it is necessary to understand these movements as a perpetual motion, that is, not as determined by socio-spatial imperatives that would necessarily lead to the displacements from one place to another, in search of something; much less as something exceptional, which regards sedentarism as metaphysics or a project of the person - a project that regulates life and expectations, supported by a set of precepts or norms recognized as moral values. Thus, displacement does not relate with the idea of function in the mechanical sense. Function is understood here in the sense that there is an "organic" correspondence between social institutions and, due to the supposed need for social organization, pre-existing units. Such units would make possible the necessary conditions for the existence of a social whole and the way in which individuals would move about in it.

As previously stated, a common assumption, when it comes to thinking about migration, is the assumption of movement as a critical event, exceptional, "accidental," secondary, or derived in relation to stability (Malkki, 1992MALKKI, L. 1992. “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees”. Cultural Anthropology, 7(1): 24-44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519
http://www.jstor.org/stable/656519...
). However, it is possible to notice, in the context of travestis in the sex market, that the "in between" is also inhabitable (Guedes, 2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .: 32). Something analogous to that was posited by Gloria Anzaldúa (2007ANZALDÚA, Gloria. 2007. Borderlands/La frontera: The new mestiza. 3ed. San Francisco, Ca.: Aunt Lute Books.), who proposed a new identity for the marginalized female subject who was born and lived in mobile, polyphonic and hybrid spaces on the Mexico-United States border. Travestis, in the context here presented, as well as the "new mestiza," a classification given by Anzaldúa for this counter-hegemonic border identity, prove that it is possible to live in "in-between places", or "places of passage."

A similar argument is presented by Silvana Nascimento (2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411., 2014b) when looking into the histories and sociabilities of travestis, transsexuals and drag artists in the state of Paraíba, revealing the occurrence of networks of relationships that cross municipalities and cities at various scales. The author calls these displacements between cities in the northern coastal microregion of Paraíba an "interstitial place", and sheds light on the constant movement of people and things that enables the existence of a way of life during the displacements.

According to Nascimento (2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411.), this way of life is only possible in an interstitial territory, between the countryside and the capital, between the backlands and the coast. "A way of life that is expressed on the road, in the literal and metaphorical senses, in an interstitial space that is constituted on the edges of metropolitan regions" (Nascimento, 2014a: 70). However, despite the metaphorization of this way of life, it is still tied, according to the author, to a territorial location. Even when the so-called in-between places (or smaller cities) are spaces located near major cities, they still provide a strategic location for the circulation of people. That is, in a way, Nascimento's "interstitial place" is linked to being a “place of passage” for truck drivers, workers, students, and other travelers.

It is the author herself who states that it is the constant movement of spaces that makes possible the existence of this way of life for cis women and travestis who find subsistence in the sex markets (Nascimento, 2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411.: 71). From this, stems the thought that being on the physical fringes of large cities underlies the displacements and way of life in interstitial places. According to Nascimento (2014a), the way of life in the interstitial places, in the microregion of the northern coast of Paraíba, is similar to that of Perlongher's (2005PERLONGHER, N. 2005. “Territórios Marginais”. In: James Green & Ronaldo Trindade (orgs.), Homossexualismo em São Paulo e Outros Escritos. São Paulo: Editora Unesp. pp. 263-290.) "nomad", as "the nomad establishes locations, but never stops moving around, drifting" (Perlongher,2008: 247PERLONGHER, N. 1987. O Negócio do Michê: prostituição viril em São Paulo. São Paulo: Brasiliense.). According to the author, these drifts are guided by the desire to perform a sexual act in exchange for a payment or symbolic enjoyment from clients - or from other professionals or flirts also involved in the sex markets.

The way of being in the world evidenced by Natasha, Raabe and Virgínia, with their displacements, does not depend on their being in marginal territories or in those that offer strategic conditions for the circulation of people and goods. Although Campo Grande (MS) is a capital city, it has no close or direct relationship with São Carlos (SP), Franca (SP), or São José do Rio Preto (SP). Nor do these travestis carry out their displacements guided by sexual desire or material and symbolic exchanges. The creation and satisfaction of desires, as well as the exchanges and relationships occur during the displacements, not because of or motivated by them.

Thinking about displacement as a way of being in the world also makes it possible to dialogue with at least two other recent Brazilian anthropological studies. Namely, that of "mobility as value", presented by Guedes (2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .), and that of Machado (2014aMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014a. “Migração, deslocamentos e as franjas do parentesco”. R@U: Revista de Antropologia Social da UFSCAR, 6: 130-145., 2014b), who considers movement to be a generator of differences. Interestingly, there is a certain confluence in both approaches, even though they are from entirely different ethnographic contexts.

André Dumans Guedes (2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .), when discussing "movements" and "durations" in the north of the state of Goiás, links classic works on popular groups and peasantry in Brazil to his extensive fieldwork, demonstrating that "movement" and "wandering" are part of a historical characteristic of many popular and rural human groups in Brazil, and not exceptional things - or the product of structural conditions. Guedes (2013) takes this historical characteristic into account to create a native theory on "movements" and "durations", mobilities and permanences that fully permeate the lives and trajectories of these subjects.

The author presents mobility as the source of a code that informs the organization of social space in various spheres, thinking of migration not as a concept, but diluted in a set of phenomena. His argument moves towards thinking of mobility as a code that not only refers to factual or objective displacements, but one that informs the way people think and attribute meaning to the world in which they live (Guedes, 2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .: 38).

When talking about "movements" and "durations," Guedes (2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .) focuses on the intensities of movements that are constant, even during permanences, because movements are not only physical-geographical, but a code. In an interesting way, this conflicts with the way I have presented the displacements of travestis. The author does not consider displacements only from an empirical point of view, but he considers mobilities as a value of his interlocutors - just as, for Natasha, there is no teleology of the movements from Campo Grande (MS) to Dourados (MS) or from Campo Grande (MS) to São Carlos (SP), and vice-versa. Just as there is a "culture of movements" among Guedes' interlocutors, there is a "no settling down" culture among travestis which can be read as a perpetual motion.

In another context, Igor Renó Machado (2014aMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014a. “Migração, deslocamentos e as franjas do parentesco”. R@U: Revista de Antropologia Social da UFSCAR, 6: 130-145.) explores numerous ethnographic examples in order to demonstrate different dimensions of movements. From the transitions of a family from the countryside to an urban area in Minas Gerais, to experiences of mobility within a rural neighborhood in the south of the same state, to international migrations of Brazilians to Portugal, to people from Valadares migrating to other countries. Machado (2014a) draws a connection between movement and kinship, reflecting on the production of socialities based on the movement of people across different spaces which acts as a qualifier and producer of socialities.

Machado (2014bMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014b. “Movimentos e Parentesco: Sobre as especificidades dos deslocamentos”. Campos, 15(2): 27-42.) presents movements as a generators of infinitesimal differences, as catalysts of transformations in the orders of kinship and as a potentializer of new entanglements created from new lines that are cast in time and space. According to the author, there is a movement to produce one's own kinship and, at the same time, the movement implies changes in the relationships among the members of a family.

Just as, in some contexts, movement can entail transformations in kinship structures and be an effect of its determinations (Machado, 2014bMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014b. “Movimentos e Parentesco: Sobre as especificidades dos deslocamentos”. Campos, 15(2): 27-42.), in the context of travestis it is possible to think of displacement as a producer of socialities. That is, displacements express the ways in which people are in a process of becoming through relationships (Strathern, 2006STRATHERN, M. 2006. O gênero da dádiva: problemas com as mulheres e problemas com a sociedade na Melanésia. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp.), and geographical and spatial displacements themselves are both products and producers of these relationships. I will now turn to ethnographic accounts to try and make clearer the parallel I have drawn. Natasha's displacements from Campo Grande (MS) to Dourados (MS) and then to São Carlos (SP) are products of the relationships between her and Flávia, and between Vera and Flávia. Her displacements also made it possible for Natasha to gain entry into the sex markets, and they produced the relationships between Natasha and Vera and between Natasha and myself - just as Natasha's displacements within Campo Grande (MS) fostered her relationships with "Corrida das Drags" and Andromeda Black. This goes to show that the displacements work as a perpetual motion machine, using the energy generated by its own movements to produce other displacements.

A displacement defines a kind of relationship that, of course, is a thousand relationships, a bundle of symbolic relationships; a kind of relationship that changes in shape, tone, and nature, to the point that perhaps it ceases to be one without us realizing it. Marilyn Strathern (2006STRATHERN, M. 2006. O gênero da dádiva: problemas com as mulheres e problemas com a sociedade na Melanésia. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp.), when discussing the circulation of items of wealth in Sabarl, draws attention to the fact that axes and shells that are considered valuable do not represent human beings, but relationships between people - and that objects are not created in opposition to people, but rather because of people. Along this line of reasoning, displacements are neither external nor do they express the attitudes of the travestis; for this reason, I reiterate that they are not an extrinsic function, apart from the person, but a relationship that helps to build other relationships.

Displacements are relationships themselves, and therefore it is recommended that one should look at "the capacities of relationships that are the focus of the operations" (Strathern, 2006: 263STRATHERN, M. 2006. O gênero da dádiva: problemas com as mulheres e problemas com a sociedade na Melanésia. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp.), because these capacities reveal the social relations that form them and the people they produce. The first property of a relation is that "each of its parts contains information about the whole and there is information about the whole encased in each of its parts" (Strathern, 2014:278STRATHERN, M. 2014. O efeito etnográfico e outros ensaios. São Paulo: Cosac Naify.); and the second property is that a relation "(...) needs other elements to complete it, since one must always ask between which elements relations are established" (Strathern, 2014: 279STRATHERN, M. 2014. O efeito etnográfico e outros ensaios. São Paulo: Cosac Naify.). Thus, relations are established between displacements, people, places and cities. Moreover, at the same time, displacement is understood as a relation, contrasting with the approach of viewing it as a function of social homeostasis or derived from external (historical, economic) injunctions.

Final considerations

This article has demonstrated the importance of displacements in the context of travestis working in sex markets. Based chiefly on the stated principles of "never settling down", "never tying oneself down to one place", and on the ethnographic accounts, I have argued that displacements, in this context, are related to movement and action, revealing themselves as a way of being in the world of travestis, a way for them to build relationships and construct themselves.

I have emphasized that the displacements do not have an instrumental nature, that they are not a means to an end. With that in mind, displacements can be observed in São Carlos (SP), Franca (SP), Dourados (MS), and Campo Grande (MS). Such locations seem somewhat unlikely when compared to those reported in the literature on travestis. For this reason, I presented ethnographic accounts that demonstrated geographical displacements, both between cities and within the intra-urban space. I also presented displacements of relationships, such as in Campo Grande (MS), when Natasha and I, in the same city, kept missing one another, almost went to a party, and I ended up being nominated to be a judge in a Drag Queen contest. In these displacements, the flows of information, as well as changes in behaviors, plans, relationships and commitments, are fast and intense.

I have argued that a good way to understand these displacements is to think of them as parts in a perpetual motion machine, in the sense that the machine indefinitely reutilizes the energy generated by its own motion. According to physicists, the perpetual motion machine is physically and objectively "impossible", because it violates the laws of thermodynamics. However, for the purpose of understanding the displacements of travestis, this matters little, because what interests us is the idea of a constant production of movements that are independent and without objective purpose.

The image of a perpetual motion machine is convenient, because it encourages us to look at the production of movement that has no other purpose than to feed the machine that produces the movement. It is an invitation to look at the acting, the doing, the moving, both from one city to another, from one place to another in the same city, and also at the displacements of relations that occur during and through the geographical displacements. It is precisely because I focused on the actions that I did not try to identify or create abstractions about a network or a formed circuit. Such abstractions are possible only by looking in retrospect, in hindsight, and assuming some degree of stability. However, the goal was to focus on displacements, because it is in and through them that relationships are created, thus I argue that the displacements can be understood as a way of being in the world.

In this sense, there is a dialogue with the regimes of mobility and their critique of metaphysical sedentarism that regards stability as the norm and movement as something exceptional. Moreover, the understanding of the displacements of travestis resonates with Brazilian anthropological productions such as Silvana Nascimento's (2014aNASCIMENTO, Silvana. 2014a. “Variações do feminino: circuitos do universo trans na Paraíba”. Revista de Antropologia, 57(2): 377-411., 2014b), on the "interstitial places" that allow for the existence of a way of life during displacement; with "mobility as value", presented by Guedes (2013GUEDES, André Dumans. 2013. O trecho, as mães e os papéis: Etnografia de movimentos e durações no norte de Goiás. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond .), and with that of Machado (2014aMACHADO, I. J. R. 2014a. “Migração, deslocamentos e as franjas do parentesco”. R@U: Revista de Antropologia Social da UFSCAR, 6: 130-145.; 2014b), who thinks of movement as a generator of differences, offering contributions to what "may become an anthropology of mobilities" (Souza and Guedes, 2021SOUZA, C. V; GUEDES, A. D. (orgs.). 2021. Antropologia das mobilidades. Brasília: ABA Publicações.: 09).

At this point, it is possible to affirm that the displacements of travestis are comparable to a perpetual motion machine, one which expands, contracts, arranges and rearranges itself, always creating something that overpowers, swallows up another, producing a positive multiplicity of quality of encounters. This machine couples with others in a system, forming associative regimes: together-separate, interrupt-flow, fill-empty. In other words, the production of a production. Always in motion, always moving and being moved by smaller and larger machines. A production without purpose and without end.

Acknowledgements

I would like to affectionately thank my friends from the Laboratory for the Study of Playful Practices and Sociability (LELuS - UFSCar) for discussing the initial version of this article with me.

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  • 1
    This is a Brazilian Portuguese word that literally means “transvestite”, but a precise translation into English is not possible. Travestis have existed in Brazil for a long time, being male-designated individuals who take on a female identity and may or may not undergo sex reassignment surgery. Therefore, they do not identify as crossdressers, and the only word in English that could somewhat approach the meaning of travesti is “she-male”. This word, which is informal and quite aggressive, is appropriate insofar as travestis are highly segregated in Brazilian society, typically inhabiting the outskirts of cities and often resorting to prostitution in order to make a living. The precise differences between transsexuals and travestis have been controversial, since they may be colored by long-established prejudices in Brazilian society.
  • 2
    All the names of people involved in the fieldwork concerning this research have been changed in order to preserve their anonymity.
  • 3
    "On the Streets" (in Portuguese, "na Rua"), spelled in italics and with a capital R, refers to the way travestis refer to the spaces outside the house. Despite also being a space of work and impersonality, the Streets are not the rest of the world outside the house (DaMatta, 1991DAMATTA, Roberto.1991. A Casa e a Rua. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Guanabara Koogan.). They constitute, like the turf (in Portuguese, "o pedaço") (Magnani, 2012MAGNANI, J. G. 2012. Da periferia ao centro: trajetórias de pesquisa em Antropologia Urbana. São Paulo: Editora Terceiro Nome.), the intermediate space between the private and the public. And, insofar as it is a territory appropriated and produced by travestis and one that becomes a referential space for sex market, it also contains the "code-territory" (Perlongher, 1987), because it is also a territoriality expressed in a peculiar code, which provides categorical attributions to bodies and desires in movement, producing subjectivities, representing a movement of deterritorialization and also promoting a sort of reterritorialization (Rodrigues, 2019RODRIGUES, A.R. 2019. “‘Tudo é rua’: apropriações, espaços e corpos no mercado do sexo em São Carlos/SP”. Revista de Antropologia da UFSCar, 11(1) (jun. 2019), 504-523. DOI:https://doi.org/10.52426/rau.v11i1.298
    https://doi.org/10.52426/rau.v11i1.298...
    ).
  • 4
    Evans Pritchard (1978EVANS-PRITCHARD, E. 1978. Os Nuer. São Paulo: Perspectiva.), when observing the Nuer, pointed out the importance of being aware of the movement, dynamism, and displacements of people. The renewed studies of the Manchester School (Feldman-Bianco, 1987FELDMAN-BIANCO, Bela (org.). 1987. Antropologia das Sociedades Contemporâneas. São Paulo: Global.) addressed the displacements, analyzing the new urban logics arising from the displacement of populations - the "undesirables", "nationless" people without rights due to wars, exile and other forms of violence, mainly in Asia and Africa (for example, the camps in Dadaab, northeastern Kenya, filled with Somali, Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees).
  • 5
    This work was funded by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) and FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation); process n° 2016/08210-2.
  • 6
    The "choice" of these cities was based on empirical motivations. That is, by following my interlocutors, I arrived to these cities. There was no previous planning. What defines a capital city, a country town, whether a city is small or medium-sized, is a static classification that dialogues with institutional, political and administrative orderings, and which is external to the travestis. The cities, for them, are also built through their displacements. This gives rise to a reflection on a possible "travesti city", but it would be necessary to present another ethnographic approach to consolidate this argument, and more elaborate analytical twists that are not the purpose of this study.
  • 7
    The mechanisms and relations created by travestis to carry out their geographical as well as body-gender displacements are beyond the scope of this article. I intend to address them soon in another publication.
  • 8
    The common expression used by travestis to refer to the activity they performed was programa (the act of having a sexual encounter and receiving payment for it), and the people who requested the programas were called clientes (clients) or mariconas, depending on the sexual preference of the client. Mariconas are "male" clients who enjoy being penetrated by a travesti.
  • 9
    Portuguese for “Upside Down” (TN).
  • 10
    Portuguese for “newcomer” (TN).
  • 11
    Portuguese for “from outside” (TN).
  • 12
    In August 2018, the city government, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, launched a "downtown revitalization" project. The project was extensive, and it was designed to last 5 years, promising to completely change the layout of downtown Campo Grande, e.g., by moving pole-supported overhead power and telephone cables underground. The main goal of the project was to build sidewalks and pedestrianize the city center.
  • 13
    There is an unspoken agreement concerning the occupation of spaces in cities by those who offer programas on the Streets. I believe that, because of this, Natasha avoided going to other places. In a previous work (Rodrigues, 2019), I addressed issues related to the creation, occupation, uses, disputes and appropriation of spaces in the sex markets in São Carlos (SP), dialoguing with categories such as the turf (Magnani, 2012) and the Code-territory (Perlongher, 1987). It would be interesting, at another time, to expand and deepen a specific reflection about Campo Grande (MS), taking also into account recent contributions on sex markets, prostitution and sex work in Campo Grande (Passamani, Rosa and Lopes, 2020PASSAMANI, G. R.; ROSA, M. V. e LOPES, T. B. de O. 2020. “Prostituição masculina e intersecções desejantes nas ruas de campo grande (MS)”. Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais [online], v. 35, n. 103 [Acessado 15 Fevereiro 2022] , e3510303. Disponível em: <https://doi.org/10.1590/3510303/2020>. Epub 17 Abr 2020. ISSN 1806-9053. https://doi.org/10.1590/3510303/2020.
    https://doi.org/10.1590/3510303/2020...
    ).
  • 14
    I learned from Andromeda that there had been an important Drag Queens movement at the end of the first decade of 2000, in the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and that practically all the drags from that time are now travestis, most of them working in the sex markets. It would be interesting to conduct a study on this specific displacement (from drag to travesti). However, during my fieldwork, this information was isolated and without recurrence. Because of this, I do not have enough elements for further development.
  • 15
    This square was built on the old location of Campo Grande's railroad tracks. The space is part of a "cultural corridor" next to the city's Horto Florestal (a municipal nursery), Mercadão Municipal (a wholesale produce market), Camelódromo, and Orla Morena.
  • 16
    It is important to point out that I am not disregarding transphobia, the killing of transgender people, and the unemployment rate among travestis and transgender people, which is more than double the national average (Benevides and Nogueira, 2021BENEVIDES, B. G; NOGUEIRA, S. N. B. 2021. Dossiê dos assassinatos e da violência contra travestis e transexuais brasileiras em 2020. São Paulo: Expressão Popular/ANTRA/ IBTE.); I am only emphasizing that displacements have no direct causal relationship with this condition.
  • Translated by: Alexandre Inforzato

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    13 Feb 2023
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    31 May 2021
  • Accepted
    21 Feb 2022
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