Teresa Pla Meseguer, Part II

A group of policemen (called Civil Guards) stopped Teresa once and forced her to strip naked. They had heard that her genitals were “weird” and wanted to see for themselves. It is needless to say that Teresa was traumatized by this horrible violation. She had been trying so hard to fit into what a woman was supposed to be like. She had even bought a red dress, curled her hair, and started attending dancing fetes. And now, she was forced to undress and reveal her body to drunken Civil Guards.

Teresa

This was when Teresa decided to stop pretending. She joined the Republican guerrilla fighters and started living her life as a man, Florencio. The guerrilla fighters were more open-minded than the villagers. They easily accepted Florencio as a man and never questioned his identity. They helped him to achieve his greatest dream, which was learning to read.

Unfortunately, the Republican guerrilla movement was administered by the Soviets. Stalin was the person who decided what they were supposed to do, when, and how. For Stalin, purges were an integral part of ruling the Communist allies all over the world. Florencio’s closest friend among the guerrilla fighters, Francisco, was accused by a Stalin’s emissary of treason. Francisco decided to escape in order to avoid being killed by his own comrades. As a good friend, Florencio joined him and the two men formed a rogue guerrilla unit.

Florencio and Francisco survived for a while in the forest until Francisco was killed. After that, Florencio remained hiding in the forest on his own. He knew the terrain so well that he managed to avoid capture for years.

At that time, the Republican guerrilleros had already withdrawn from Spain on Stalin’s orders. Florencio was left completely alone. The Civil Guards hunted him and the newspapers published articles describing Florencio as “a wild beast,” “a woman with entrails of stone” (yes, they were shitty writers, what can I say?), “a blood-thirsty hyena”, etc. The authorities were especially bothered by rumors that Florencio was living his life as a man. This gender-switching made him even more suspect in their eyes.

In 1960, Florencio was captured by the Civil Guards. He was given the capital penalty for 29 murders that were erroneously attributed to him. Florencio, however, always denied killing anybody and the authorities never managed to prove that he was guilty of murder.

At first, the authorities tried to place Florencio in a women’s jail. They dressed him in a mini-skirt and a blouse that was so tight he could barely breathe. Florencio was a man, however, and nobody could pretend he wasn’t. In the first part of the post, you have a photo of how Florencio looked right after he was captured. It soon became obvious that keeping him in a jail for female prisoners would not do.

A group of military doctors studied Florencio for a while and arrived at a unanimous conclusion that he was a man. From then on, he was placed in a men’s jail and his gender was never again disputed.

In 1977, Florencio was released from jail. In 1980, he finally managed to get the authorities to recognize him legally as a man. Florencio Pla Meseguer died in 2004 at the age of 87. He had survived the dictator Francisco Franco by 29 years and had witnessed Spain’s transition to democracy.

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Sources:

If you don’t read in Spanish, there are no good sources for this information. At least, not until my article is finished and comes out. 🙂

If you do read in Spanish, I recommend the following books:

Calvo Segarra, José. La Pastora. Del monte al mito. Vinarós: Antinea, 2009.

Giménez Bartlett, Alicia. Donde nadie te encuentre. Barcelona: Destino, 2011.

And Now Let Me Bore You With My Research: Teresa Pla Meseguer, Part I

I never do this, folks, so I think I can be excused for discussing my research just this once. Especially because you will not find this information on English-language websites and I think it’s fascinating.

Florencio, 1960

Teresa Pla Meseguer was born in a small village of Vallibona in Spain in 1917. Today, we would call Teresa intersex because her gender could not be determined at birth. In her tiny village of shepherds and poor farmers, however, nobody knew this word. Teresa’s parents registered her as a woman because being female would have allowed her to avoid being drafted into the army.

Teresa never performed femininity very convincingly, though. People ridiculed her and taunted her for looking like a guy and her elder sisters beat her mercilessly. Teresa grew up to be very tall and strong, which made people afraid of laughing at her in her face. When the Civil War started in 1936, Teresa didn’t join either of the warring sides. She was considered a woman, which gave her the right to stay in Vallibona. She could do hard physical labor as well as a man and men were scarce. This allowed Teresa to make good money and even start saving.

As we all know, the progressive Republican forces lost the Civil War in Spain. The fascists, led by the General Francisco Franco (or, as I refer to him in my lectures, vile cockroach*), won. The defeated Republican forces withdrew to France. The Republicans** fought heroically against Hitler in Europe because they believed that once the Nazis were defeated, the Allies would proceed to remove Franco and his fascists from power.

This never happened. The Allies allowed the fascist dictatorship of Franco to remain in power until 1975.

The Republican fighters decided to take matters into their own hands. They organized guerrilla units, crossed the border between France and Spain, and started engaging in subversive activities against the regime. Teresa was one of the many people in the area who helped the guerrilla  fighters by providing them with food and helping them pass messages to their families.

One day, however, a really horrible thing happened to Teresa.

[To be continued. . .]

* And I always follow this with a disclaimer that the students should feel free to form a different opinion about Franco but that this is a subject where it makes me feel better to say that he is a vile cockroach.

** These, of course, are very different from the American Republicans. The Spanish Republicans were people who defended the democratically elected legitimate government of the 2nd Republic against the military uprising of fascists between 1936-9.

Intersex

It is often our own dependence on the gender binary that makes us organize the narratives about the intersex people along the lines of  the “true, biologically defined gender.” In many cases, the problem is not that the intersex child was placed into a wrong category at birth but that there was any attempt to categorize that intersex child as male or female at all.

While intersex people should be absolutely free to identify as either male or female if that’s what they choose, there should also be a space for those who don’t want to identify as either and who see themselves as intersex and not as female or male. Such people exist and their reality deserves respect.

A Disgustingly Sexist Campaign: Boys Suck, Girls Rock

I thought I’d seen every stupid sexist idea anyone could come up with. This website, however, just takes the cake. It publishes admittedly fake stats and slogans to convince people who are expecting a child that they should not want this child to be a boy. Basically, it’s a “boys are bad, gross and useless” campaign. It publishes stories from parents who report on how their sons suck and stories from other parents on how their daughters are a total joy. As opposed to those useless sons, you know. Here, I snipped a small portion of the disgusting website for you (press on the pic for a larger view):

The vile, nasty and stupid (sorry, but I just have no patience with people who unburden themselves psychologically at the expense of children) creators of this stupid, nasty and vile campaign say that their goal is to combat the prejudice that many expectant parents have against giving birth to a girl. Having a daughter needs to be promoted as something good, they say.

Of course, the easy solution here would have been to start a campaign saying, “If you care about your child’s gender, then you are a flaming idiot who isn’t prepared to have a child in the first place.” Or, “I just hope that my kid is healthy and happy. Gender? Why should I care?” But no, these sexist jerks have chosen to reaffirm the most stupid gender stereotypes instead.

Mind you, people can’t control the gender of their child. So what is supposed to happen when a person who spends time on this idiotic website and wishes passionately for a girl, then gets stuck with one of those stupid boys who pee in fish-tanks, destroy furniture and set things on fire (these are all examples from the website in question, of course)?

What’s more, there are already even bigger fools who celebrate this perversion as. . .  a victory for feminism. I mean, the stupid campaign constructs the male identity as aggressive, violent and destructive and female identity as beauty-salon-visiting, obedient and docile even BEFORE the kids are born. A boy who is “a bookworm” is described as a disappointment to his parents because that makes his masculinity somehow faulty. The website uses pink for girls and blue for boys. Yes, this is a definite milestone of feminist achievement.

I also want to remind everybody that at least one person is born every day in this country whose biological sex cannot be determined as either male or female. People who have been brainwashed by the idea that the gender binary is to be maintained at all costs then do horrible things to these children in order to make them fit into a preconceived notion of definitive maleness or femaleness. I have been reading up on intersex recently and let me tell you, it’s horrible to see how often people inscribe gender on the bodies of newborns in very violent ways.

I also wish that people tried to keep in mind the plight of transgender folks who discover later in life that they were born into a wrong gender. It is that much harder for them to confront their families about who they really are if their parents believe in a very strict definition of gender. A definition that this campaign reinforces.

This is why the last thing we need is yet another stupid website pushing the pink versus blue dichotomy. We especially don’t need this garbage to be sold to us under feminist auspices. Countless people suffer every day because of the gender binary. It is a task of feminists to dismantle that binary, not to reinforce it. Why is this so hard to comprehend? Why, people, why?

Sheesh, folks. Do I really need to have my mood spoiled and my blood pressure raised by these vicious child-haters, stupid pseudo-feminists and brainless sexists so early on a Saturday morning?