As a story of gender oppression, Bad Girls (beautifully translated by Kit Maude) would sound familiar almost everywhere—particularly, these days, in the United States ... But Sosa Villada is not looking for ideological sympathy. In fact, the first defiant message in the English translation of her book is an author’s note addressed not to trans people’s perceived enemies but to their allies ... To record the travesti experience, no matter how harrowingly painful, as something precious is the purpose of Bad Girls.
... captures the beauty, wonder and danger in the lives of travestis, a Spanish term that has been re-appropriated to empower trans women ... reads like a fairy tale but still connects strongly with corporeal aspects of trans experiences. Villada writes in an arrestingly poetic voice, often leaning on ancient Greek allusions to give her prose a mythic feeling. She introduces each character and their backstory like picking petals from a flower—lovingly and painfully, with dreamy care ... Latin America has a rich trans tradition, in both the art and activism realms, and with Bad Girls, Villada joins the ranks of the greats. With nods to Argentine trans icons such as actor Cris Miró and activist Claudia Pía Baudracco, Villada weaves Bad Girls into the world of Latin American trans life. Just as artists like Venezuelan musician Arca have shown what the Latin American trans community can offer music, Villada shows how much a travesti can offer the field of literature. The promise is great, and on every page, Villada delivers.
[Sosa Villada] has a sharp, baroque prose style that both romanticizes this form of sisterhood and is suffused with uncanny scenes of violence. Translated elegantly by Kit Maude, the syntax of Bad Girls is inflicted with an elegiac tone and an epic sensitivity conducive to self-mythology — to the point, sometimes, of overly romanticizing the world that it inhabits. Formally, Sosa Villada creates a landscape that reaches luminous peaks, which makes it particularly frustrating when, on occasion, she fails to deliver ... a generational testimony as well as a personal one. It imagines a future and exorcises a past, being exceptional for what it promises and for the portrait of a life it leaves behind.