Joaquin’s Refusal: An Embodied and Geographic Active Subjectivity

  • Andrea Del Carmen Vázquez University of California, Santa Cruz
Keywords: queer and trans youth, active subjectivity, Latinx geographies, queer geographies, resistance


This essay explores a Latinx, queer and trans, student’s resistance to a gender-neutral restroom at a high school in an agricultural community of the Central Coast of California. Through a close reading of a field note, I analyze Joaquin’s narrative of refusal to demonstrate how queer and trans youth engage in an active subjectivity (Lugones, 2003). For decolonial philosopher María Lugones (2003), an active subjectivity is the process through which oppressed communities become conscious and critical by engaging in a meaning-making process centered on their socialites. I argue that queer and trans high school students’ active subjectivity is in relation to their embodied knowledges and geographies. The body and space are both critical in learning to think in community and reflexively. Joaquin’s refusal of the restroom becomes useful in understanding how queer and trans youth tell narratives of their self, grounded in a social history capable of alternating the story told about space and place.

Author Biography

Andrea Del Carmen Vázquez, University of California, Santa Cruz

I'm a first-generation, queer Black Latina from South Central Los Angeles. My work is grounded in the Anthropology of Education and Feminist theorizing, and maps the topographies of schooling and youth resistance across axes of race, place, and gender, at a high school in an agricultural community on the central coast of California. In particular, my ethnography describes how institutions of learning utilize their geography to perpetuate anti-Black racism and heteronormativity, and how high school students resist through an engagement with spatial decolonial practices.