L Heidenreich explores Mestiz @ transgender story – WSU Insider


As someone who identifies as gender queer, Mestiz @, materialist and Catholic, L Heidenreich brings a unique perspective to the study of history that is hard to find in most classrooms.

“I loved my history classes growing up, but my family wasn’t there,” said Heidenreich, associate professor of history at Washington State University. “It wasn’t until I finished my graduate studies and could choose my direction that I had the opportunity to study the stories I wanted. I think that as history educators we have an obligation to make things easier for future generations.

Heidenreich, who was raised, in part, on their mother’s side of the family with roots in Jalisco, Mexico, recently studied the relationships between capital movement, culture and people, especially transgender people Mestiz @ s at the end of 19e and 20e centuries.

L Heidenreich

In their 2020 book “Nepantla squaredMeaning intermediate spaces or spaces of movement change, Heidenreich explores how the economic and social changes of the late 1800s and 1900s influenced the lives of Mestiz @ s transgender people in California.

The work began with an investigation into the life of Gwen Amber Rose Araujo, an American teenage girl who was murdered in Newark, California, in 2002 by four men after discovering she was transgender. Heidenreich interviewed Araujo’s mother Sylvia Guerrero and decided she needed to dig deeper into the matter to understand how such a tragedy could have happened.

“I was like agreeing; I’m a historian, so let’s go back. Let’s look at economic systems and gender in the 19e century, and what people did to fight for survival, ”Heidenreich said. “And then let’s go back and watch the end of the 20the century again to get a better idea of ​​how we came to a place where the life of a young trans woman was cut short due to fear and hatred from peers, also young, who had learned to exercise their skills. masculinity through violence.

At the end of the 19e century, railroads and agribusiness were revolutionizing the California economy, and white Protestant culture and its values ​​had taken hold in most major cities.

These values ​​would ultimately justify policing public spaces in cities like San Francisco, and possibly confining those who do not conform to gender roles.

One of the historical figures followed by Heidenreich is Jack Bee Garland, a famous journalist and soldier who was assigned to a woman at birth but lived as a man in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco at the turn of the century. Garland has had to work around the persecution throughout his life. In his youth, he was placed in the first insane asylum in California. Later in his life he was arrested at least twice, simply because he was himself.

“The end of the 19e century was very similar to today in terms of the ongoing economic and social upheavals, ”Heidenreich said. “As historians, we must always ask ourselves what lessons can we learn from the past to help inform and navigate what is happening today.”

In class, Heidenreich said the goal of their work was to give young people a broader perspective on the life and history of LGBTQ people, an area of ​​history that is integral to the past and present of the America, but who is often marginalized. “October is LGBTQ History Month and it is sad that we need a month to recognize the history of our communities,” Heidenreich said. “But nonetheless, I think it’s important to send a message about the vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in American history.”

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