There are many tasks that can be accomplished during this summer for my Mellon Scholarship. As the quarter swiftly moves to an end, the task of organizing a collaborative research agenda can be daunting and overwhelming, especially when we also have other responsibilities on campus, such as teaching, research, etc. For my project, I have decided to adopt a Project Framework that will allow arranging visually deadlines and objectives.
The collaboration I am trying to foster with my community partner remains unclear, however. The means of communication in Cuba are limited due to a lack of a digital infrastructure and a high cost associated with internet access. In that sense, my community partner, TransCuba, has not replied to my initial contact. Under the current circumstances, I have already made some adaptions to my project that will affect who my community partner will be. Given the often politicized nature of community organization in Cuba, it is difficult to determine right now what ideology this group represents. This is important because my project precisely seeks to problematize the political implications of absorbing the transgender community into the official discourse of sexual diversity in Cuba. I argue that such promises and advances with the transgender community are not unilateral and are possible through a process of mediation, negotiation, and appropriation of transgender bodies. Access to health services, such as hormone treatment, sex reassignment surgery, legal rights, etc., come not as legal and human rights victories but rather as political concessions that compromise differing ideologies and agendas articulated from the transgender community.
So far, my proposed project remains unchanged (i.e. the development of a community partner’s website and the assemblage of 2-5 digital stories of Afro-Cuban transgender community members.) Identifying concrete goals and objectives, at this point, is crucial to developing a realistic timeline in place to guide the accomplishment of those goals at the end of the funding period. Thinking about deliverables and a final outcome also constitute a site for contention, especially when there might be adaptations and variations between the envisioned project and the actual one.