Valeria Licciardi, from División Palermo: she was the first trans woman in Big Brother and today she designs inclusive underwear

Valeria Licciardi
Valeria Licciardi

Actress, dancer, journalist and social worker, the life of Valeria Licciardi it is so surprising and has as many facets as changes in the course of your life. However, there is a premise that does not change, and it is the decision to live freely. Whether it was from a young age, when the first doubts began, or when she was a waitress and she decided to sign up for the 2015 edition of Big Brother, to make visible the problem and the lack of rights of the trans collective. It was thus that she became the first trans woman to enter the reality show and installed the topic in prime time, in family content, and generated what she was looking for: the debate.

She surprised again when she created her own business and turned the initial idea, which arose from her own need, which was to design inclusive underwear that she herself could not find, into a productive economy with a network of resellers in different parts of the country that gave many women the first job opportunity of their lives.

She did radio, television and became a social activist who fights for the decategorization of people. A world without labels. “I did television terrorism when I entered reality,” she says in dialogue with teleshow. With that same slogan, to make it uncomfortable again and thus mark the debate, she agreed to be part of the series Palermo Divisionone of the local hits in Netflix. “Now it’s us, the ‘minorities’, who make the jokes,” she says convinced.

In División Palermo, Valeria Licciardi plays a trans girl who plans to use her experiences in the Urban Police to write detective novels (Netflix)
In División Palermo, Valeria Licciardi plays a trans girl who plans to use her experiences in the Urban Police to write detective novels (Netflix)

What convinced you of the proposal to accept this character in the Palermo Division?

—We were in the midst of a pandemic when Santiago Korovsky -writer, director and protagonist- contacted me to talk about a trans character that he imagined for the new series he was writing. At that time, I was doing a newscast and I didn’t have much time, so he continued chatting with various trans colleagues who helped him outline the character of They lived. After a while she summoned me again and this time it was to do a test as an actress. Three years had passed since the first talk and he found me in a moment of many changes, of shuffling and giving again. They are going to see me mutate many times as I have done. Why do I move, because there are moments for everything and because one also chooses. When I read the script I felt that They lived He called me and I said `I want to play this character, I want to represent him`. And then, of course, all the other spices: working with actors and actresses that I admire, being able to talk about political incorrectness, laughing at what affects us, and also telling the story of a non-stereotypical trans girl, a feminist, who doesn’t want to fall for it. fine to anyone. I found it more than interesting.

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Why do you think the public was so taken with the series? Is it the topic that interests you?

—It gives me the feeling that the public was waiting for this type of content, I think we needed to be able to laugh at our idiosyncrasies; of the porteñocentrism that we have, of how little empathetic and ignorant we turn out to be in the face of what is different, what is different. Maybe it’s time to change and laugh at other things. The joke that was made to a trans person in the 90s is not effective today, so it has to be changed, but that requires work. In the series we are the “minorities” who make the jokes. We distance ourselves and laugh at what we suffer, at how we stand up to a circumstance. For example, I like that They lived she chooses her battles, she is resolute and doesn’t get hooked on just anyone. She is not just a trans woman, she has a whole multiplicity.

The urban guard of the Palermo Division (Photo: Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix © 2023)
The urban guard of the Palermo Division (Photo: Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix © 2023)

What place do “minorities” generally reflect in the theatrical environment and on TV?

—None or very little. I understand that it is changing but honestly the theater, for example, is being distracted by some things. At one point he dedicated himself to putting in some gender issues, he got involved for a few years with dysfunctional families and now I wonder, where are the travas, the transvestites, the trans? Where are those stories? Who counts them? Who interprets them? At least in Buenos Aires, which is where I live, I don’t see any of those performances. I want to take the calculation in the commercial theater and in the official one, how many people in wheelchairs are there? She questions me directly, it’s not for a feminist study, I need to know as an actress who lives in Buenos Aires. All these issues and the lack of representation are making you want to act and dedicate yourself to this.

“And why do you think that happens?”

—The image of the group to which I belong has an enormous load of prejudice that does not allow us to access places. It happens to us like blackness, that by the mere fact of skin color you are disqualified. It is very strong when you register this because I do not want to be the only one or that we are three or four, especially because I had to make a place for myself, I even got to get into a reality show so that they know me and lose their fear of hiring me. I diversified, I had to do it, I dedicated myself to journalism, and I did dance because I liked it but above all because I felt that as an actress I was not going to exist.

This is how Valeria Licciardi entered Big Brother 2015, which came out on the American screen
This is how Valeria Licciardi entered Big Brother 2015, which came out on the American screen

Do you think your time on reality benefited you or are you sorry?

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—When I joined Big Brother I was working as a waitress and studying my second career, social work. The producers of the program came to have lunch, they insisted that I appear for the casting. At first I told them no, that I really wanted them to give me an opportunity as an employee of something else, I had studied journalism so at least a production assistant, I imagined. Later I thought that it could be useful not only for me, but also for the collective representation. So I introduced myself and from there, I went down a kind of slide that led me inside the house. Today I look back and feel that I did television terrorism, a trans person talking, interacting, debating with others for 24 hours is a lot.

“How long were you inside the house?”

—My passage lasted very little, only 2 months, but there were things that I was very clear that I was not going to do, for example, I was not going to fight with the girls, I was not going to sleep with anyone, much less sexualize myself. In one sentence I did everything not to succeed in show business (laughs). If you know how to capitalize on it, the program is an accelerated course to be media.

—And when you left, did you find what you were looking for or was it a disappointment?

—When I left the house, the producer finally gave me the opportunity to work in multimedia radio for two years. From then on I didn’t stop, I continued on other radios and collaborated for some graphic media until the opportunity came to make a newscast. At the same time, I continued with my dance and theater classes and I also dedicated myself to creating my brand of panties designed for the bodies of trans transvestite women. I did everything, it was a very long journey to get here. I was a waitress, a dog walker, I babysat. My story is not that of Cinderella, it is that of a desiring woman who does not give up and who works hard, so that it does not sound like meritocracy. I was able to develop because before I had some guaranteed human rights, I did not lack a roof, food, education or family affection. In general, in the stories of trans people this does not happen, perhaps now, since we have the Gender Identity Law, things begin to change for the new generations.

"My bet is to keep fighting until we stop categorizing and make a world without acronyms"Valeria assures
“My bet is to continue fighting until we stop categorizing and create a world without acronyms,” says Valeria.

—And how did the idea of ​​creating a brand come about? of inclusive underwear? Out of necessity?

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lullaby is a brand that started selling panties for the bodies of transvestite trans women but now we add ESI (Comprehensive Sexual Education) games for all ages and books for trans partners. Beyond everything, it is a productive economy that generates work, there are resellers in different parts of the country. What began as a sale between us was extended to the public and this allows them not only to sell but also to interact with people they would never have spoken to otherwise. The girls offer them the panties but also bring them many other products from cayote jams to books and games. An exchange is set up that crosses the commercial and that is what I like the most. From the brand we share a lot of our transvestite culture and we try to take action. Before the transvestite Labor Quota Law, we held a job bank for girls to offer what they know how to do. It was a success because many were able to have their first job opportunity.

Valeria Licciardi
Valeria Licciardi

What struggles of the trans travesti collective summon you today?

—At this moment, in activism there are two very important axes. On the one hand, there are the survivors fighting for recognition, reparation for so many years of struggle and survival. Many do not even have a pension because they never worked, they could not go to school because they were victims of exclusion and it is a pending issue that we have, both the state and society as a whole. And on the other hand, trans childhoods who were born with the Law but who have to fight for it to be applied in schools, kindergartens and institutions. There are still bathrooms with a male/female category, for example. Fighting and activism is part of my life. My bet is to keep fighting until we stop categorizing and make a world without acronyms.

Keep reading:

The inclusive urban guard: who is who in División Palermo, the Argentine series that is all the rage on Netflix
Palermo Division, is it based on a true story?

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