The Violence of (In)Visibility: Queer Adolescence and Space in Lucia Puenzo’s XXY


Olivera GE (2017) The Violence of (In)Visibility: Queer Adolescence and Space in Lucia Puenzo’s XXY. Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana, 46 (2), pp. 207-226.

First paragraph: XXY (Puenzo, 2007) constitutes a landmark intervention in Latin American queer filmmaking. Arguably, it has opened up, as Tretorola (363) has rightly put it, “a new phase in the representation of sexual difference in Argentine Cinema”. A pioneering piece not only because it was the first movie to put the intersex sexual subject in the cinematic agenda, but also due to a refreshingly positive and complex perspective to sexual diversity and queer childhood/adolescence that was able to attract LGBTI as well as wider audiences, being particularly popular amongst gay audiences (Puenzo, “XXY: Interview”). The movie is about 15-year-old intersex Alex and her parents, who decide to move away from Buenos Aires to the isolated surroundings of a Uruguayan coastal town (Piriápolis) in order to protect her from urban inter- and transphobia. It focuses on five crucial days in which they receive the visit of a family friend doctor who would assess the viability of a surgical intervention to “normalize” Alex as female. Ramiro, the surgeon, comes with his wife Erika and his sensitive 16-year-old son Alvaro. Alvaro bonds with Alex and, after having sex with her, he experiences first hand her closeted intersex condition, along with his own self-discovery of his pleasure of being penetrated. Alex is then assaulted and victimized by a group of teenagers after being outed by her school friend Vando. The spatial configuration of closetedness and the open secret can thus be read as central to the narrative as well as a paramount example of heterotopian space in its ambivalent capacity–I wish to argue–of both enclosure and opening itself up to non-normative encounters with the (queer) other.

Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana: Volume 46, Issue 2

FundersThe Carnegie Trust
Publication date30/11/2017
Date accepted by journal03/04/2016
Publisher URL