Anel Méndez Velázquez was born in Puerto Rico, and grew up San Sebastián, a town in the western-central region of the island. She considers herself to live simultaneously in Puerto Rico and the United States. She holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras, where she worked in enzymatic research to develop bioremediation methods for removing toxic compounds from industrial waste. During her time at the UPR, she also did independent studies in art and gender, which introduced her to feminist theory and cultural studies. In 2002, she moved to the U.S., working in Chicago for a year to then move to New York to work on an interdisciplinary Master’s in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University’s Draper Program. Her thesis, “Cultural Nationalism and the Policing of Gender and Sexuality in Puerto Rico, 1930s -1970s,” discussed ways in which official cultural-nationalist discourses on puertorriqueñidad in the mid 20th century invested in heteronormative gender and sexuality constructs and implicated them in the construction of Puerto Rican identity and the Puerto Rican nation. Her interests include: ‘third world’ feminist and queer theories and movements, cultural, and critical theory, Puerto Rican and Caribbean studies, trans-cultural/trans-national gender and sexuality studies, race/ethnicity/nationality discourses in relation to gender and sexuality politics, and gender and sexuality in visual representation and arts, and performance culture.