A headshot of Dan Bustillo against a wall covered with magenta flowers

Dan Bustillo, a Ph.D. student in visual studies, has won the UCI School of Humanities’ Graduate Student Excellence Award as part of the campuswide Latino Excellence and Achievement Awards, conferred by UCI’s Office of Inclusive Excellence. 

Bustillo is a scholar and leader in trans Latinx studies who works closely with local Latinx queer communities. Their dissertation, titled “Refusing Spectacle: Trans Latinx Counter-Security Media,” explores how trans Latinx activist media is used to challenge a variety of borders (carceral, national and digital borders of belonging). Using media analysis, interview and site-based studies in Los Angeles and Tijuana, Bustillo attempts to bridge the gap between trans studies and Latina/o studies, contributing to the small yet growing subfield of trans Latinx studies.

In addition to scholarly work, Bustillo is also a passionate instructor and community educator. In 2020, they earned Teaching Assistant Awards in film and media studies and gender & sexuality studies, and they spoke on a panel at UCI called “Empowering Imaginaries and Engagement” held during Latinx heritage month.

Bustillo is currently assisting with the community archiving project “The Counter-Memorias Public History Project,” which centers the voices, stories and testimonies of women and femmes in Latin America and Caribbean diasporas. They are also collaborating with trans Latinx activist organizations and a colleague in Tijuana on a workshop at a shelter for LGBT migrants in Tijuana.

Bustillo has offered mentorship for trans and queer youth through the L.A. LGBT center's LifeWorks program since 2019. They have also helped develop encryption tools for activists, led protestor workshops and are currently working with The Revolution School, an open collective of artists, magicians, academics, empaths, hackers and friends.

“As a trans Latinx person, I want to bring the issues and concerns that are important to me and to the communities I am connected to into my research here at UCI,” Bustillo said. “What might be a margin for some is a center for me, and that is where my work comes from.”

Visual Studies