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Little is known about trans people’s experiences with spirituality. Cultivating spirituality is important for LGBTQ individuals because it allows them to develop resilience and maintain hope for the future (Schmitz & Woodell, 2018; Singh & McKleroy, 2011). Drawing on life history interviews and survey data with trans Latinx adults in Los Angeles, this talk focuses on the role that spirituality plays in trans Latinx lives as they navigate structural, legal, and interpersonal violence. I argue that trans Latinxs embrace spirituality through the process of disidentification (Muñoz 1999) by 1. Engaging in Latinx popular religion, 2. Engaging in non-Latinx Catholic religious practices and spaces and moving toward other established community groups, spaces, and religions to embrace the spiritual, and/or 3. Exploring and creating their own kind of spirituality. I theorize the concept of “trans*formative spirituality” as a way of “doing” spirituality and “being” spiritual that is informed by trans Latinx identity, embodiment, consciousness. Trans*formative spirituality exists outside the boundaries of institutional religion and consists of the internal and external transformations trans Latinxs go through as they engage in the labor of becoming. 

Dr. Jack Cáraves (he/him/they/them/el) is an incoming UC Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year, at UC Riverside, in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies. Prior to this, he was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Associate in Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2021-2022 AY). Jack is also a former assistant professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at San José State University. 

Jack's research examines the role of transgender identity and gender variance in shaping migration, family relationships, identity formation, spirituality, and world-making for transgender Latinxs in southern California. Jack is currently working on his book manuscript Trans Power: Illegality, Identity Formation, and Communities of Care in Trans Immigrant Lives. He has published in Latino Studies, The Journal of LGBT Youth, the Association for Mexican American Educators Journal, Transgender Studies Quarterly and in the anthology: Queer and Trans Migrations: Dynamics of Illegalization, Detention and Deportation. His research has been funded by the University of Illinois, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Latino Center for Leadership Development-Southern Methodist University, the Institute of American Cultures, and The Center for the Study of Women at UCLA. 

Jack is also co-creater and co-host of the podcast, Anzaldúing It, along with Dr. Angélica Becerra—a podcast grounded in Chicana and Women of Color Feminisms and dedicated to navigating the borderlands of queer Latinidad. With over half a million listens, the podcast has been used as a teaching tool for underrepresented students and has been featured on Hiplatina, Autostraddle,, GOMAG, and was featured in the 2019 Google Youth Tech Summit.

Jack also enjoys running, hiking, being near the ocean, journaling, eating yummy food, talking astrology, and spending time with his loved ones. He is also very active member within the Soka Gakkai International (SGI-USA), a lay organization rooted in the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

3PM - Lecture
4PM - Reception

Part of the Latinx Gender & Sexual Politics Series.

Event Details

  • Amelie Machatzke

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