At the beginning, it was her weird presence that captured media attention; her eccentric dress sense--on occasion associated with sex work--and the perception of her as a trans-woman "who has faced no obstacles in life" (Correa, 2011).
In this setting, the media has depicted Baptiste as an exemplary or different kind of trans-woman. She is viewed as an example of success to be followed, as if her presence showed trans-women that there are other possibilities beyond sex work and crime.
The problem is that this makes people conclude that lack of access is purely our choice --"But if she could, why couldn"t you""--not a matter of social discrimination (Interview, trans-woman activist, No.
When a trans-woman scientist occupying a public position was no longer news, Baptiste"s presence in the media started to be an intentional endeavor that she assumed as a scientist and public servant with a political commitment towards environmental issues.
In these perceptions of the environment as something created by culture, in the uncomfortable and seemingly contradictory connections between corporations and environmental agendas, and between accountable public management, non-radical activism, and a caring science, Baptiste makes symbolic associations with her gender position as a trans-woman. She discusses, for instance, a particular imaginary about the environment as something that should remain pristine in order to be natural.
We could also infer some symbolic connections with her gender position as a trans-woman and the way in which she, as a scientist, promotes the assemblage of diverse actors to care for the environment.
When Baptiste uses her public presence as a trans-woman scientist to bring forward her caring views on the environment, she does so in dialogue and tension with what trans-women activists think of her.
Being at the center, visible and not discriminated against because of her choices, indeed being accepted and admired, is what characterizes Baptiste"s public presence as a trans-woman. As mentioned above, her stance ambiguously attributes a sense of care for those who occupy a space of invisibility and stigmatization; but she is also an example of a very careful transgression of what scientists should look like.
Embodying that which is disturbing and inappropriate, both as a scientist and a trans-woman, makes Baptiste a monster, albeit a hopeful one (Haraway, 1992; Law, 1991); a being with the capacity to embrace difference in a non-dualistic manner and teach us to live with diversity without aiming to control it.
Embodying a caring science: An ethnographic analysis of the communicative practices of a Colombian trans-woman scientist in the media.