Ezras adivce column

Translation by Jonah Evers

[Question 1] Before my current relationship I had several affairs at the same time, though all people involved knew about each other. Ever since, I have known that I don’t really want to live in a monogamous relationship, which is why „open relationship“ has been a subject for me and my current partner since the beginning of our relationship. When we gave an open relationship our first try at the beginning of this year I wasn’t sure whether my partner only consented to it to humour me, as I think he would have never had this notion by himself. Until now I have only become close to somebody outside of the relationship once; I talked to my partner about it and he said that it was okay for him. When I noticed that there was the possibility of me falling in love with this other person, I talked to them and, following that, mostly broke off any contact. But now I notice – again – that my attraction is mostly directed at people outside of the relationship. My partner says that this is alright with him, but when he actually notices me coming in contact with people I could potentially find attractive, he reacts hurt and resentful. Most of his friends say that they can’t really picture an open relationship being a good thing for him. I am scared that I am acting abusive towards him. Maybe he is scared of my reaction if he voiced his concerns? Maybe you can advise me how I can assure him that I don’t want to talk him into anything he doesn’t want and that he can talk to me anytime he feels uncomfortable.

Best regards,
B.

[Answer] Hello B.,

Today, I will put the conclusion at the beginning: In my opinion it is of less importance to find out what is behind the incongruity between what is said (your partner consents to opening the relationship) and what is done (his resentment); you should rather ask yourself honestly what is to become of this relationship. I can see the following facts: Your partner consented to the opening of the relationship, but his consent/ostensible neutrality has turned to discontent with this situation, which you perceive as resentment. Even without a detailed account of your partner, I think it is adequate to trust your gut: your partner doesn’t like your agreement (anymore).
As a consequence, your ideal relationship model is poly and that of your partner is monogamous. You can continue the relationship in one direction or in the other. Either you keep acting according to your agreement and your partner is unhappy, or you listen to your gut feeling, live monogamously – and become unhappy yourself. Of course there are levels of „openness“ in a relationship, but your situation doesn’t strike me as one where a compromise both parties would be satisfied with is possible.

Believe me, I know these relationship situations, where one talks and talks and the problem doesn’t disappear and one believes if one would talk more, one could find a solution. But in real life one stands before the unsolvable conflict that derives from different needs. Just because the value of open dialogue in relationships is often stressed it doesn’t mean that two people can always find a solution, if only they talked to each other long enough. It’s understandable that you look for a solution in better communication, but deep within yourself you already realized that your partner is not content like this. In the hope that he would simply spill his beans and voice his opinion, so that you two can talk it out, you want him to talk. I fear that this is doomed to fail. He already showed where he stands on the current situation. Captain Awkward often emphasizes that one shouldn’t (only) be aware of what people say but that in the end what they do is what counts. That is what I advise you. Your partner shows resentment because he doesn’t want to continue the relationship on these terms. What do you want to do under these circumstances?

A few tips on how to proceed: First you could clear with yourself how you see your future together. What would be your ideal arrangement, no matter if your partner has similar ideas? Where do you see yourself and your partner in one year, or in five? When you have answered these questions for yourself, you can initiate the conversation with your partner. What would his ideal arrangement look like, no matter if it accomodates you? Where does he see you two in one year, or in five? Can he imagine himself living with the situation as it is now for another year, or two, or five? Could you in turn imagine living with the situation as it is now for 1/ 2/ 5 years? I don’t have a magic spell that will make you two always find the right words. But these questions can help you and your partner picture the future and your relationship more clearly. Good luck!

This time around I received an additional question, therefore now the bonus round.

[Question 2] Hello Esme,
i really like to read your column and this time I am brave enough to pose a question myself:

I am female, in the end of my thirties and married. In the last years I have concerned myself with a lot of different queer subjects and two things have become clear to me. The first thing: I am asexual. That was really liberating for me. I accept it (my husband does, too, implicitly, as I have not deliberately come out) and the pressure of having to want something – sex – is gone. The second: I am a GirlFag. Sometimes I wish I was born a gay man. I do not believe I am trans. Do you believe there is a connection between these two things? That I, because I am a GirlFag, don’t like (hetero) sex?

Best wishes,
Anonymous

[Answer] Hello Anonymous,

A general warning: I will make wild assumptions, as I neither identify as asexual nor as a GirlFag. What I am about to say does not count for all, or even most of asexual people and GirlFags. Reality can be very different for everyone, which is why the same identity can be completely different for different people (see GirlFag-/GuyDyke articles in Issue 6).
The following text is to be seen as a buffet: take what fits for you and leave the rest.

So to finally approach the question: yes, i think there can be a connection between the two. While asexuality simply „is“ for some people, there are others who are/have become asexual through certain circumstances. Sadly, these circumstances can include negative experiences; others develop their identity in the context of how their body is perceived in society and sexualised/desexualised.² This is where different dimensions intersect, like fat, non-white/black or non-ablebodied, experimenting with feminine presentation as an amab* person or with masculine presentation as an afab** person. Especially in the intersection of these two, people are downright made asexual.³ Concerning this I’d like to offer you the two links in the footnotes, because I assume that you, just like me, are white and I want to let people speak for themselves.

Only you can figure out how strong the connection between your asexuality and your identity as a GirlFag actually is. A very real and well-known side effect of a trans identity is dysphoria, which can happen if your gender is not perceived as your own or if one is sexualised for gendered body parts that don’t go together with the own self-perception (for instance the strong sexualisation of breasts, when one would feel more comfortable without breasts). This can happen in a very sensitive situation if it happens during sex. Thus the potential of offense or injury is very high, which can lead to avoidance, unpleasant sensations or feelings of disgust/repulsedness. At the same time it could be that the „atmosphere“ isn’t right during sex because one expects a different dynamic from the one that actually develops. How people treat others is influenced by what gender they assign to themselves and their counterpart and which unspoken rules those gender identities bring with them. There are lots of tiny details that can lead to a situation where sex with a specific person doesn’t work and I think that the own gender identity, especially if it has changed in the course of the relationship, is a very big tiny detail. (Not talking about the fact that people sometimes come to the conclusion that they don’t want sex with a specific person or don’t want sex with them anymore.)
In the end, only you yourself can answer the question if and how there is a connection between your identities, but do I think it’s possible that they influence each other?
Definitely.

1 http://captainawkward.com
2 http://rumbaumeln.blogsport.eu/2014/01/30/kein-sex-ii-classsexrace-liebe-und-begehre-mich-trotzdem/, in leicht veränderter Form in Queerulant_in Nr. 7, S. 20 nachzulesen
3 http://queerlibido.tumblr.com/post/74181237292/whats-r-ace-got-to-do-with-it-white-privilege

*amab=assigned male at birth – sometimes also camab=coercively assigned male at birth
**afab=assigned female at birth – somtimes also cafab=coercively assigned female at birth

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Review: Lifeworlds beyond labels

by Claudia Frenkel
Translation by Raptor-Femme

„Mind the Gap“ by Marie-Christina Latsch (pbl.) was released in july 2013. There have already been some reviews of the book, but I would like to add another, to make this little gem more known.

It contains more than 20 short biographies of well known and less well known queer personalities, like Marlene Dietrich, Harvey Milk or Judith Butler.

After the introduction, which includes a definition of the word ‚queer‘ and the history around it, on 160 pages you will find a mix of short, but detailed biographies with graphics, poems and texts of various authors.

The biographies are two to four pages long, containing quotes and mostly large-sized pictures.
At the end there is a two-page glossary, explaining some queer terminology.
A rather unusual thing about the book is that it doesn’t have page numbers, but dates that start with 1868 and end with the year 2013.
‚Mind the Gap‘, which Marie-Christina Latsch created during her diploma thesis (area of studies in Design) is from the beginning to the end an aesthetically crafted work of art.
I was very impressed by the people who were introduced in the book.
Many of them had a hard life, however, they believed in themselves, challenged norms and lived their lifes beyond any labels or still do.
The text I like most is ‚every girl, every boy‘, which is about imposed gender roles and clichés.
Marie-Christina Latsch made with ‚Mind the Gap‘ a very creative and informative piece, which I want to recommend to every person who is interested in diverse queer lifeworlds.

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Wortbahnhof’s trans* and dance column

A contribution by Wortbahnhof (www.wortbahnhof.de)
Translation by femmateurin

Every once in a while, Wortbahnhof writes about trans* and dreams. In Queerulant_in mainly stories of trans* every-day life. This time it’s about making use of Wendo skills in every-day life.

Recently, I participated in a weekend Wendo course. Prior to the weekend, I was a little worried because Wendo courses generally are for women* and some people at times have weird (cis-) interpretations of what it means to be woman or to be female. The people participating in the Wendo course, however, turned out to be very pleasant and a group dynamic emerged in which we could talk about our experiences of discrimination as well as practice punches and do role plays.

Today, for the first time, I got the feeling that I would be able to use one of the techniques I had learned in the Wendo course. Once again (summer approaches and shorter clothes unfortunately draw those kinds of comments), someone on campus said to someone else, loud enough for me to hear: “Is that a boy or a girl?” First, I kept walking for a few metres because, as usual, this had happened very suddenly and I was nonplussed at first. Then I turned around, however, and made use of the strategies I had learned. I called them out on what they had done and told them to stop: “Stop commenting on people, you asshole.” The other person became evasive: “What did I do?” I did not respond to this: “Exactly what I said, you asshole.” I kept walking; ten seconds later the person came after me, touched my shoulder, and pretended to apologise. Again, I said: “Stop touching me.” They responded: “I said I was sorry”, to which replied: “Good for you, go away. Bye!”

Saying what the person should stop doing, naming it explicitly. Even better if it’s loud enough for others to hear what the person did wrong. Not engaging in a discussion. I do not have to accept your apology, I just want you to stop annoying people, me specifically. The insults generally just slip out. I didn’t learn that in the Wendo course. If that’s good or bad – I’m not sure yet.

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How Lotta was born (Wie Lotta geboren wurde – Review)

review by Mara Otterbein
Translation by Rebecca Knecht

The booklet „Wie Lotta geboren wurde“/How Lotta was born (1) tells the story of Lotta, her father Tobias, and his pregnancy. The book was self-published by Atelier 9 ¾ in 2013, and contains texts by Cai Schmitz-Weicht and pictures by Ka Schmitz.
Since the book’s goal is to explain pregnancy and the way Lotta and her father Tobias met to people two years and older, it does not require any (previous) knowledge. Complicated words and concepts like “trans*” or explanations about sexuality and pregnancy which are more complicated than sperm and ovum are not used. In very basic terms, the contents explain that the place in which babies grow – the ‘baby cave’ – is usually something women have, but not always. And that Lotta’s father has one of those ‘baby caves’ as well. Fertilization is symbolized by the exchange of two glowing hearts, and the time of pregnancy by the growing of Tobias’ belly.
What stood out to me and what I really liked was the positive and affirming way in which Lotta’s birth is portrayed. The book talks about Tobias’ life before Lotta and about how happy he was, but that he wanted a child. I sometimes felt like I would have liked a more explicit explanation of trans*, which is probably too much to ask from a children’s book for children of two and up. The most essential message of the book is that everyone was very happy about Lotta – and that is probably the most important thing to its readers.
In comparison with other children’s books, the price of 10 Euros is average. Other pedagogic children’s books, like the ones on the latest GLADT book list (2), cost between 3 and 20 Euros. Considering this, 10 Euros seems like a good price for the – according to its publishers – first German picture book about trans identity.

(1) http://www.atelier-neundreiviertel.de/bilderbuecher-regenbogenfamilien/wie-lotta-geboren-wurde/
(2) http://www.gladt.de/archiv/paedagogik/Buecherliste.pdf

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My life in a commune

by A.
Translation by Jonah Evers

I am Alicia and I live in the commune Niederkaufungen as a trans*woman. We are 60 adults and 20 children. Principles of the commune are: consensus, shared economics, reduction of nuclear-family structures, leftist understanding of politics, reduction of gender specific power structures, children and teenagers, life in big groups.

When I offered to write an article I initally wanted to write about „trans* and queer in a commune“ and be more general. Now everything has turned out differently and you can read a personal account of my life as trans* in the commune.
Why not an article on the subject of queer in commune? Because it’s too complex, I think. While writing I noticed on several occasions that I would have to explain too much about the structures in commune – that would have taken too much room. In our project I am the only one who openly defines herself as trans*. Most would define themselves as cis.

I perceive the commune as an open and especially an affectionate project; also as a safe space in which I dared to evolve this way. I want to tell you a little about it.

For me, being trans* was just beneath the surface for a long time and wanted to be out. As soon as I felt safe in Niederkaufungen I came out, because I felt I was accepted just the way I am.

Approximately 4 years ago I had my coming-out as transgender*. First I felt between genders, but wanted to be adressed and read femininely. My name that was given to me as a boy* can be read in different ways in respect to gender, and I kept it. A few months ago I decided to give myself a clearly femininely read name and with it, i came out at work. I’m an elderly care nurse and work collectively in day care. I was scared to come out with older people and their relatives, but I received lots of support from my collective, who encouraged me to take this step. The cohesive support they gave me made it easy for me.
The commune gave me the space I needed to come closer to my identity. Through the collective working I never had to fear social and economic failure, particularly because I could slowly edge closer in a safe space; to change my style, become more feminine. First in the commune, then in the village and lastly everywhere else.

In the commune I got the self-confidence to live my life as a trans*woman, to stop hiding. Sometimes the commune for me is an island where I can retreat.

With 80 people there were many different reactions. Next to many positive reactions there were also critical discussions of gender roles in the minds of both myself and others. I especially talked to women* a lot in the first time after my coming-out. It was stressful and trying, but brought insight to all involved.

Of course there is criticism too. I already noticed that many things are still stuck in the gender binary. But the commune is a constantly changing and evolving project, and because the people who live there create it, things can change and queer subjects can find more space in the minds and discussions. The beautiful thing about it is that it lies in our hands as active members of the commune.

Time and time again I have thought about joining or founding a queer project. But then I believe that the mixture and the diversity of my group is exactly right and that I’d rather stay and commit to making my commune even more colorful.

Back to the dossier overview.

“Other people might think differently about this…”

Content: Joke is trans* and P.’s foster dad. P. now knows quite a lot of things about trans*, some of which he learned from Joke, others he learned elsewhere. Sometimes Joke and P. talk about trans*. Some of these conversations are pleasant, others less so. In this text, Joke tells us what he_ thinks about these conversations.

“Other people might think differently about this…”
A contribution by Joke Janssen
Translation by femmateurin

In the beginning, I was trans* and my new flatmate was seven years old. Then society interfered. Now, I’m 34 and P. is perhaps culturally queer; or something like that. Wandering thoughts on trans* and being a parent.

Recently, P. told me during dinner: “Joel and Kubilay have figured you out by the way.” Even though I was clear about what they had “figured out”, I still asked him what he meant by that. “They have noticed that you’re actually a girl.”

Talking about trans*
I’ve always felt conflicted about the conversations resulting from anecdotes like this. P. has been a part of our family [1] for five years and has known the word trans* [2] since he was seven years old. And just as my being trans* is not a completed or finished project for me, it is not one for him. So for almost five years, we have every once in a while talked about trans*, and with P. becoming older, our conversations are changing and becoming deeper. I feel that this is right and important; trans* for me is shifting, transforming, woven with threads of my ever-changing life, thus talking about it also changes, adapts, and is being renegotiated.
At the same time, these conversations are unpleasant for me because they are not (if they have ever been, which I doubt) a child’s innocently curious questions about the new and the unknown which occurs in life every once in a while. Our conversations are situated in a space made up of conflicting ideas about the world. P.’s questions, his commentary and statements sometimes speak of a subcultural, queer [3], and trans* knowledge. But of course, he also lives a life elsewhere and at other times the hetero-normative, gender-binary-normative outlook on trans* pierces his words. Just as in the example at the beginning, which is no better than every “Can I ask you a personal question?” at work or the expression of pride in the other person’s eyes when they think they have worked out my alleged gender, assigned at birth. At work and between adults, however, I can make use of unfriendly curtness [4] (which is very effective) or from a sociological perspective observe how many times my conversational partner can put their foot in it within a mere two sentences. The situation between me, an adult trans* person, and the eleven year old for whom I have taken responsibility is an entirely different one, however.
When talking with P., I feel like I have to respond more to these statements on the margins, even though it can be annoying sometimes because it means leaving my comfort zone. But when we decided to foster a child, this crossing of boundaries was probably part of the deal. The alternative, telling him less, is not an alternative at all: I participate in P.’s life just like he participates in mine. This familial process of learning together, with one another, and about one another frequently crosses boundaries in any case; we are too close, we have too much time and not enough space to leave these complicated matters unspoken. And that’s okay because we are probably going to spend some more time [5] together. Our home [6] is supposed to be a place where we can negotiate matters together and these matters can be talked about. That also means talking about trans*. Partly, my life with P. means, therefore, re_phrasing trans*, time and time again and suitable to his age, and making it accessible as far as that is possible.

Putting trans* into words?
The task of expressing trans* and making it graspable in a hetero-normative, gender binary society with a language structured along those lines [note by the translator: German assigns a grammatical gender to nouns, thus expressing and reinforcing the gender binary. “Der Mensch”, human, for example is grammatically male, while “die Sonne”, the sun, is grammatically female.] is one which neither P. nor me can master at the moment. P. certainly has a much more differentiated view on trans* than many people who think they are more mature than him. Nevertheless, stories like the one I mentioned at the beginning indicate the trenches separating my own understanding of trans*, what I have been able to articulate so far, from the dominant knowledge about trans*. When I talk to P. about his story, we only touch upon a fraction of this set of issues; at the same time, I experience a mental chain reaction. I might tell him perhaps why I think the choice of the words “figuring out” is a bit unfortunate and why I, why my body and my gender cannot be “figured out”. I might refer to the dominant understanding that trans* folk hide their real gender, hoodwink the other, deceive them, and play a game of charade of false genders [7]. The notion that trans* folk can be “figured out” has eventually made its way to P., in the first place bestowing upon him and friends the supposed knowledge that I’m hiding something. What P. is learning in this instance, is that there are signs of a truth about gender which will reveal themselves to you if only you look long and hard enough. At this point, he becomes an arbiter of a hegemonic discourse [8] about trans* which attempts to put to order, to oppress, and to refute as wrong and misguided the alternative knowledge circulating in our family. I’m also forced to intervene if I do not want my own experience to be presented as wrong. “Other people might think differently about this…” So it does not seem like it is just P. who disturbs the peace of our otherwise so subcultural family: Each and every one of us at times carries fragments of this discourse which make it difficult to articulate matters differently, sub-culturally. P.’s story is merely very graphic; moreover, he finds himself in a very particular position, which I’m going to talk about in more detail at a later point.
I’ve said that conversations about trans* are very exhausting for me. At the same time, I feel it is crucial to be responsive to his points of view in conversation. On the one hand, there are, after all, my own years of experience with trans*, giving me a wealth of ways in which to bring about normative clashes. On the other hand, P. offers his very own perspective, one which I might not have even considered yet. To be precise, I should be glad that P. still turns to me. My job as a parent at this point is to have very specific conversations with him which he might not have with many other people.

Dominant speaking – what we are dealing with
What I can read from P.’s story and what at the same time marks off the space in which P. has to make sense of his subcultural knowledge, is the hetero-normative search for the real gender of trans* folk. In a society which knows only men and women, people search for the “gender assigned at birth”, the “original”, the “biological”. For all the, rather dubious, love for trans* folk (I was asked about Conchita Wurst after my last talk.), the fact still remains that trans* cannot be understood, cannot even be thought. The dominant discourse about gender has to sort every individual into either one of two ideas. This is still about the power of genes, hormones, about reproductive organs, or whatever else is beneficial to the logic of a gender binary at this point in time. Our alleged gender, assigned at birth, can determine how we see the world, how we articulate ourselves, how we look, and what we can achieve. This is especially true for trans* or inter folk, who have lost their respective ways at some point and who have to be brutally bent into shape in one way or another, who have to be cut down to size, who have to normalised.
The notion of trans* which is reflected in P.’s story and to which I would like to offer an alternative thinks about trans* bodies as bodies on their way from one point_gender to another. Trans* bodies are bodies in transit, so to speak, merely presenting a passage from male to female or female to male [9]. The binary logic cannot accept any deviant interpretations of body. In the dominant narrative, after all, gender is two-dimensional, a temporary connection between male and female at best, an either-or, always in transition. Multi-dimensional notions of trans*, trans* bodies as facts, with a sense of self and a reality of self, not on a journey from a to b, merely on a journey, are nearly impossible to articulate in our linguistic reality. Especially not between chocolate ice cream and toothbrushes while keeping the cat from sneaking into P.’s wardrobe. And how could they be when my own attempts of articulating, of lifting my body out of a logic of binarisation, are like walking on sand – leaving painstaking traces, gone with the next wave. My imparting knowledge and experience to P., and myself, is fragmented narration, our thinking about trans* is always thinking in the making.

Cultural queerness
My attempts to convey a different kind of thinking, of thinking trans*, are accompanied by a whole different type of responsibility: P. is growing up in a family thinking and acting critically_queer and he is developing a world knowledge which means he can be called “culturally queer” (Garner 2005: 198). Abigail Garner draws on Stefan Lynch’s terminology and applies it mainly to adult, heterosexual children of lesbian or gay parents [10]. Cultural queerness describes those who have been socialised in non-heterosexual family groups and who in hetero-normative settings have to perform complex translations and adaptations in order to be understood. As children coming from gay and lesbian families are wandering between worlds, so to speak, Garner also refers to them as bicultural (ibd.). I adopt the term cultural queerness and expand it critically to include the concept of queer used in this article to make it applicable to contexts outside of identitarian politics. Cultural queerness, in my opinion, grasps very well the conflict which P. faces already when telling me his story.
P. himself is culturally queer because in five years of living with us he has been considerably influenced by our critical_queer views on matters. And that is not because we send him to queer school from dusk to dawn but results simply from our living together. We share a certain way of making sense of things which would be nearly unintelligible outside our family. That is the case in most families; in our family, however, our domestic knowledge refers to a subcultural archive. Thinking queer and trans* in some instances is P.’s bread and butter. Even more, our family context relies in a fundamental way on the idea that another way of thinking and acting is possible in the first place.
P.’s cultural queerness, however, time and time again positions him as other in a hetero-normative, gender-binary society. In these moments, when the dominant and the subcultural knowledge clash, and there is an abundance of those moments, P. is required to quickly calculate and adopt his position. He can foreground either the one or the other knowledge while doing so. And indeed, P. is then also faced with anti-trans* and anti-queer hostilities, even though he does not himself identify as trans* or queer. The dominant knowledge on a regular basis invalidates the other truth of his family context, declares it to be less valuable, to be deviant_sick_twisted_crazy. In the example mentioned above, it is possible for P. to be caught in a conflict between foster parents and friends for which no good solution can be found, simply because he feels he is required to defend me. For P., like for other children, his key carers, which includes us, are of existential importance because the quality of his life essentially depends on us. And P., like other children, therefore, at times feels it is on him to defend us, even if adults do not like to think about this structural dependence [12] very much and_or even trivialise it. In any case, P. is consistently required to defend a queer and trans* family context in the face of a hetero-normative, gender-binary world, mainly in situations in which none of us are there to come to his aid. The anti-trans* and anti-queer hostilities directed at P. specifically, frequently overlooked by adults, call into question his family context, his world knowledge, and his home.
When P. tells me his trans* anecdotes, it is, therefore, my task not only to reflect how these experiences affect me and how I can distance myself from them; with my long years of trans* experience, I, as a parent of a culturally queer child, am required to work with P. on the right tools with which he can encounter anti-trans* and anti-queer hostilities directed at him. In this short conversation at the dinner table we work on a complex system of alternative knowledge which can consolidate P.’s cultural queerness as well as sharpen my queer and trans* perception of the prevailing conditions. And our archive of knowledge is a work in progress, solidifying with every new experience and discussion. Luckily, all these experiences with his friends, do not mean that P.’s queer knowledge becomes set in stone as normative, something we dreaded when he started living with us. On the contrary, rather: By discussing experiences, both of us are continuously moving, changing directions again and again.

[1] I define family here as a group of people who have decided to take responsibility for one another in some way and call themselves a family. Children do not necessarily have to be in the picture.
[2] My article focusses on a particular notion of trans*, namely the one that fits me. My notion of trans* entails questioning femininity and masculinity where they are considered to be natural, as well as male and female as biologically determined categories. For me, this is the only way to position myself beyond merely two categories, to create a space for something different, and to explore this. I’m explicitly speaking for myself, therefore, but I hope that my text makes it possible to create a space for connection.
[3] queer: When talking about queer in this article, I do not refer to an identity, a different term for gay or lesbian, an abbreviation such as LGBT. I consider queer here to be an anti-identitarian way of political and critical action, critical thinking and acting in opposition to what allegedly is normal, to what has-always-been-this-way, to the unquestionedly unambiguous, to the dichotomous categories. I’m thinking of a notion of queer which refuses to collaborate with mechanisms of oppression and instead challenges habitual power imbalances, especially amongst ourselves. I’m fully aware that this is not (yet) what queer practically entails. At the same time, I know that queer for many (and for myself) is a welcome and liberating self-designation. The contradiction remains and I hope to not neglect it.
[4] unfriendly curtness: Not altogether that effective. At work I find myself in a sales person-customer dynamic and I am forced to be friendly and accommodating, even when the interaction shifts away from the goods I’m selling. Which it generally does very quickly. While the connection between trans*, physical “ambiguity”, my position as a sales person in the adult entertainment business, and a hetero-normative drive to explore is exciting for the customer, it does not really have any connection to what I’m talking about here and will have to be discussed in a different text at a different time.
[5] some more time: The perspective of living together in foster families is painted by insecurity. We cannot say how many years P. is going to stay with us. In this, foster families are only different at first glance from families based on “blood ties” or adoption. A family setting is insecure in most cases and it’s impossible to predict when a child (or any other person) is going to leave the family group. This fact is frequently swept under the rug in non-foster families, while in many foster families it makes up a constantly present background noise.
[6] home: My home is exactly the place where I can negotiate. Home is only in some cases – in my case very much so – demarcated by a front door; it also grows in a meta-space in conversations, friendships, and mutual trust.
[7] charade of false genders: You only have to look at how dominant language refers to trans* folk: We only appear or seem to be x (because actually we are y). We are frequently depicted while doing particularly masculine things (working out!) or particularly feminine things (going to the hair dressers!) because we try so hard. And if it weren’t for the confusingly small hands, the unusual broad shoulders, or being especially emotional, you’d never have thought what we really are. But you have to hand it to us: Well done! (Well done! was an actual compliment a customer once paid me because she almost! did not realise what I actually am. Another full article, I guess…)
[8] Hegemonic discourse refers to a society’s prevailing knowledge on a subject matter. The discourse determines what we can know and sets the discursive boundaries of what can be said within which we can and have to move about more or less unharmed. Discourses are created by human beings but at the same time go beyond the individual and cannot easily be shifted by a single person. It is easy for us to go along with the discourse and considerably more arduous to go against it. Different knowledge works in subcultures but is penalised by the majority, for example, by declaring proponents of subcultural knowledge to be insane_sick or because their words are no longer understood.
[9] Male to female / female to male: The diverse and at the same time limiting ways in which it is possible to talk about trans* also reflect the notion of a transition from one gender to another: FtM, MzF [note by the translator: the z here stands for the German “zu”, “to”], trans man, woman with a transsexual past.
[10] Garner writes about “gay parents”. What she means is LGBT family groups, which she also researches, while at the same time limiting her analysis to children with gay or lesbian parents.
[11] Garner talks about families in which the parents are not or cannot be read as heterosexual (cf. Garner 2005, 122ff). The parents of those who participate in her studies were all gay, lesbian, bi, or trans*. Garner concerned herself, therefore, mainly with sexual identities and forms of desire. Possible hetero-normative attitudes, which do not have to be tied to heterosexuality after all (but rather affect us all), are not discussed in Garner’s work, at least not under the label of hetero-normativity. It is possible, however, to draw this information from the family descriptions in her writing.
[12] The dynamics of dependency of children towards their key carers are far-reaching and are frequently abused. For those interested in power imbalances between adults and children, see Ritz (no year).

References:
Garner, Abigail (2005): Families Like Mine. Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It is, New York.

Ritz, MichaEla (no year): Kindsein ist kein Kinderspiel. Adultismus – (un)bekanntes Phänomen.
http://amyna.de/amyna-medien/dokumente/Kind-sein_ist_kein_Kinderspiel.pdf (last accessed: August 2014)

Joke Janssen lives*loves*works in Hamburg, at the intersections between arts|politics|theory, which go very well together. His_ favourite activities in addition to everyday life at the moment are ballroom dancing, queer(?) childrens‘ books, and old computer games. At the moment he_ also writes on www.laufmoos.de and can be contacted by email: joke@riseup.net.

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trans*parent

an article by e.
translation by elena.

no justification, but overcoming the inability to speek.
a brave and angry description of an image (date: sometime 2014) of a self-perception as trans* and parent that i fought for
i am trans*parent
i am trans* and a parent for my kid = trans*parent
i have the urge to write about myself, because i don’t know any other people that live under the same circumstances as i do.
if i had to describe myself i would first talk about my identification process surrounding my gender identity, my body and my place within the relation to my child and my friends. Then i would add all the attributes that are self-determined, constructed, determined by others who create layers that form an image of me. a complex image. an image that i can’t describe here as a whole, which i wouldn’t want anyway but is constantly in my mind during my writing process. a confused, queer image.

trans*
do i identify as trans*gender or genderqueer? i don’t want to settle in either of those and define myself – or at least not for ever. This is one of many reasons why i have a hard time ‚coming out‘. I’m afraid to be labeled with a certain role and all its clichés by my social environment (“non-returnable and no power over my identification”), to get a set place in the catalogue in their head and endure their looks full of sympathy, fear or hate.
but i also get a headache from the fear i have around people and environments, where I’m already out, because of what they could see through their transphobic glasses that they were trained to wear and that i sometimes where myself when i look at me. i have learned that people like me are ‚gross‘ and a lot of other things that i don’t want to repeat here for their triggering effect.
sometimes i live in a phase of neglect, but this is impossible to keep up for a long time. sometimes ‚trans‘ is part of my thoughts every second of my day to day life, as a constant roller coaster, i never stop thinking about who i am.
i sometimes go overboard with this, when i paint my whole chest with black acryl colour or when i write ‚who am I?‘ on my forearms in big letters.

trans*parent
adding to that i have been a parent for more or less than a year now. the parent that brought the kid ‚to life‘ – a minimising description of the work and pain that i went through.
others would call themselves ‚mom‘ but i use my first name. i am very happy with my kid, who i love a lot. i am very happy with my best friend, others would say „boyfriend“, the ‚dad‘ of our child, who i love a lot. i am also happy with my friends and the dog, that are part of my family and that i love a lot (this is not a hierarchy)
this being-a-parent brings some huge contradictions and conflicts to me being trans* and the perception of my body.
i experienced breastfeeding as a moment of distress, because of the gendered perspective it has in society and the (real life) gaze on my gendered body.
breastfeeding means exposing my chest (i don’t have any words for what that means for me) and an unwanted state of dependence within my family
breastfeeding is a recurring triggering moment for me because of the made up and unquestioned (and therefore almost unbreakable) connection between breasts and femininity.
Therefore i stopped breastfeeding, which is something i have to and had to justify myself for in this society all the time.
since I’m a parent a lot of people think they have the right – no even the duty – and responsability to interfere in my life

and there are so many aspects in the context of being a parent, where my perception of gender and the mainstreams perception clash. after all i also find the pre- and postnatal gender assignment of my child problematic.
do i confine my kid in ‚his‘ development potential if i refer to ‚him‘ according to ‚his‘ assigned gender as ‚male‘?
the outside world would destroy ‚him‘ if i would raise ‚him‘ with my understanding of gender, against the heteronormative world order. like it destroyed me.
i am walking against walls in these forced gender order.
nevertheless i sometimes find walls that i can tear down or walls that have been torn down before me or (protective) walls, that i build myself – ways, gapes and compromises.

transparent trans*parent
what i want to show the world of my self is my decision. however this decision has consequences for my kid, me and our family.
before becoming a parent i never thought i would or could or had to live ‚out‘ in the open.
honestly, i can’t even imagine living openly in this society: how much pain and how little acceptance and appreciation would follow an outing. too scared of what others would think.
but i can’t live a ‚hidden‘ life if i want to show my kid that i am discriminated against for no reason.
i don’t want that ‚him‘ to learn that being trans* means having a secret. i don’t want to accept society’s rule through my reactions and decisions.
i want ‚him‘ to understand, that what i do is a fight for him and me and us.
i want to give ‚him‘ all the instruments ‚he‘ needs to reflect and decide who ‚he‘ is.
and yes I’m afraid that my decision (that i am also making for ‚him‘) to live more in the open will have consequences that i can’t control and that could lead to ‚him‘ being discriminated against or denied appreciation.
if i let my perception of the world be part of our relationship, people will eye us even more.
those coltish accusation that i have to face make me brave-angry: is it not manipulation if a kid is forced to correspond to a gender category by a fixed set of characteristics, behaviours and expectations?
i think that it would be a lot harder to explain my trans* identity to my kid if i would reinforce societies stereotypes by living a hidden life. i can’t build up a facade without risking ‘his’ love and trust in me and if i want to give ‚him‘ everything ‚he‘ needs to lead a self-determined life.
i can’t keep up a facade infront of the world if that means that ‚he‘ would have to play along and bare the weight of societies norms with me.
so there is little choice for me other than living an open life, to be transparent. the range of this openness is something i decide together with my kid and my family.
being out means giving people a target for attack. but it also means that i fight against those who want to deny us the right to life and love and to fight for the ones that i love.
i live trans*parent.

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Thematic focus: Trans* and parenthood.

Translation by Kim

Preface:
After having placed a main topic in both of the last issues (Issue 6: GirlFags/GuyDykes; Issue 7: Non-relationships/relationships) we once again decided on a thematic focus: Trans* and parenthood.
Since the subject of parenthood from a queer perspective offers many starting points and points of reflection, we decided on putting the focus on the connection between trans* and parenthood. In a society structured by a binary gender system (male/female), parenthood is related to fixed (traditional) role models and expectations. Expectant or present trans*parents especially face stereotyping and discrimination, since they (may) allegedly contradict existing normative role models.
On pages 6 to 27 you will find texts dealing with the thematic focus by different authors. The texts reflect the authors‘ individual perspective. Therefore, not all levels of trans* and parenthood are included in this main topic.

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Editorial Issue no.8: Another actual thematic focus

Translation by Kim

For issue 8 of Queerulant_in, which you are now holding in your hands or reading on a screen, we decided on the thematic focus „Trans* and parenthood“. There is plenty of room for this theme, comprising nine articles and several other contributions, such as comics.
You will find more on this starting from page 4.

Issue no. 8, which should have been published in December 2014, has once again been realized with a great deal of effort. Sadly, our capacities are limited. Additionaly, the increasing demand and in turn the larger edition of Queerulant_in also means publishing costs are higher. Therefore, once again the request to our readers: if you have any means of financial support, please help us!

You can read about our glorious tour on page 46. You will also find some pictures there.

On our homepage (see the pink circle on the right below) you will also find a recording of the different articles from previous issues of Queerulant_In. Some of the current issue’s articles have been recorded in order to reach a broader audience: blind people, people with handicaps in sight, people who do not like to read or who are unable to, who would like to listen to Queerulant_In on the go. You will find the recorded texts as well as the audio recording from the tour (either right now or in the near future) on our homepage.

Another innovation, which is for now available only for two texts, are small summary boxes. These are meant to provide a quick overview and a short summary of the article’s content in simple language.

For feedback, requests for critiques, to have a feature written, to get autographs, readings or any other requests as well as harsh criticisms please refer to kontakt@queerulantin.de – also if you want to write an own piece. Deadline for issue No. 9 will be the 1st of November. You may also send us announcements or digital posters and flyers for queerfeminist and/or trans* events or other emancipatory events between March and December 2016.

Be fluffy (if you want to)!

Information on readibility and the glossary:
Words marked with a „dot“ are explained in the glossary (No Link yet). The respective words are only marked when they first appear in an article.

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Dossier: Issue 8 – Trans* and parent(ship) in English

Queerulant_in, a magazine for queer politics and praxis – now in English (at least in parts)!

Maybe you all know already about Queerulant_in. However, maybe you’ve just stumbled over this site, while searching for an English text on queer. In this case, here is a short explanation:

Queerulant_in is a german-speaking, political, non-commercial (i.e. free of charge) magazine, distributed all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is run collectively by volunteers and everyone who feels like it can partake. Either by sending in Texts, comics, suggestions on improvements, by helping correcting texts or helping to organize/realize the next issue.
We bring out one to three issues per year. The latest issue (number 8) had the main topic “Trans* and Parent(ship)”. We try to translate as many texts as possible into other languages, to reduce the barriers for our readers. Since, sadly, we don’t have the funds to print Queerulant_in in other languages as well, we are uploading the English texts on our website. We collect them here in form of a Dossier for a clear overview.

If you don’t know Queerulant_in yet , we want to introduce you about our self-conception.: Because when we talk and write about queer politics and praxis, it is important for us to add a short self-conception. For us, queer is a process, an attitude, a concern, an Identity. Queer can be everything – just not apolitical. Queer can start with your gender identity or with non-heteronormative desires, but it carries on, all the way to the radical, critical questioning of all norms.
Thus, it is important for us to constantly note and discover further power-structures, aiming towards breaking these open and abolish them. Hence, we are against forms of racism, classism, ableism, antsemitism, antiromanyism, islamophobia etc. We want to give voice to marginalized people whose lives are queer.

To keep things simple, we also have introduced a Glossar. It is important for us to be intersectional, to keep in mind and highlight entangled power-structures and -relations. We want to contribute to the development and the upkeeping of a (queer) community. And we hope we did and further can with the following Texts in English – Have fun rummaging through Queerulant_in in English!

Queerulant_in ist ein Magazin für queere Politiken und Praxen – jetzt auch (teilweise) auf Englisch!

Vielleicht kennt ihr Queeulant_in schon, vielleicht seid ihr aber auch zum ersten Mal über diesen Text gestolpert, als ihr nach einer englischen Webseite gesucht habt. Für diesen Fall, hier eine kleine Erklärung:

Queerulant_in ist ein deutschsprachiges, politisches, unkommerzielles (also kostenloses) Magazin, das im ganzen deutschsprachigen Raum ausliegt. Es wird von einem Kollektiv ehrenamtlich betrieben und jede Person, die*r Lust hat, kann mitmachen. Entweder durch das Einsenden von Texten, Comics und Verbesserungsvorschlägen, oder durch Korrekturlesen und organisatorische Beteiligung.
Pro Jahr kommen ein bis drei Ausgaben heraus. Die letzte Ausgabe (Nummer acht) hatte das Schwerpunktthema „Trans* und Elternschaft“. Wir versuchen so viele Texte wie möglich in andere Sprachen zu übersetzen, um die Barrieren für unsere Leser*innen weiter abzubauen. Da wir leider nicht die Mittel haben, Queerulant_in noch zusätzlich in anderen Sprachen zu drucken, werden die Übersetzungen ins Englische nach und nach auf der Webseite ergänzt, hochgeladen und hier gesammelt. Um euch einen einfachen Überblick zu verschaffen, seht ihr im Folgenden das Dossier unserer englischen Texte für die achte Ausgabe.

Für den Fall,dass ihr Queerulant_in noch nicht kennt, findet ihr im Folgenden eine Zusammenfassung unseres Selbstverständnisses: Denn wenn wir über queere Politik und Praxis reden, ist es uns wichtig ein kleines Selbstverständnis beizulegen. Für uns ist queer ein Prozess, eine Einstellung, eine Tatsache, eine Identität. Queer kann alles sein – nur nicht unpolitisch. Es kann bei Geschlechtsidentität und von Heteronormativität abweichendem Begehren beginnen, geht jedoch weiter bis ins radikale Hinterfragen aller Normen.
Deshalb ist queer für uns ein ständiges Mitdenken und Entdecken von Machtstrukturen, mit dem Ziel diese aufzubrechen und abzuschaffen. Wir sind deshalb kritisch gegenüber Rassismus, Klassismus, Ableism, Antisemitismus, Antiziganismus, Islamfeindlichkeit und vieles mehr. Wir wollen marginalisierte Menschen zu Wort kommen lassen, deren Lebensrealitäten queer sind.

Um alles verständlich zu halten, haben wir auch ein Glossar eingerichtet. Uns ist es wichtig intersektional zu sein, also auch auf miteinander verschränkte Machtverhältnisse hinzuweisen. Wir möchten zur Community-Bildung und -Pflege beitragen. In diesem Sinne, hoffen wir mit den folgenden Texten einen Beitrag hierzu zuleisten – Viel Spaß dabei, Queerulant_in auf Englisch durchzustöbern!

1. Einleitung / Editorial.
Translation by Kim.
Link: Here.

2. Vor_Wort* zum Schwerpunkt / Preface on thematic focus.
Translation by Kim.
Link: Here.

thematic focus: Trans* and parenthood.

3. Die Quadratur des Bauches – wie du als Mann schwanger wirst, bist, warst und gewesen sein wirst.
Iko Prinz.
Link: No Translation available.

4. Die Bilderbuchs.
Tsepo Bollwinkel.
Link: No Translation available

5. Wie wachsen Trans*-Teens in Sachsen-Anhalt auf?
Katharina.
Link: No Translation available.

6. trans*parent
e.
Translation by Elena.
Link: Here.

7. „Andere Leute denken das vielleicht anders…“/“Other people might think differently about this…“
Joke Janssen.
Translation by femmateurin.
Link: Here.

8. Trans*sein und die eigenen Kinder.
Asta Dittes.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

9. Schleifen in der Zunge.
Nicole von Horst.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

10. Menschen, Mythen, MuttIationen – Ein Abgesang
als menschverkleidet.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

Interviews and more

11. Mein Leben in der Kommune. / My life in a commune
Alicia.
Translation by Jonah Evers
Link: Here.

12. Ich habe die Zurückweisung überwunden.
Corinne.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

13. Interview mit Fembooks.
Rene.
Translation by
Link: No Translation available

14. „If I were a boy“: Junge Queers im US-Fernsehen.
Steffi Achilles.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

15. Schabbat Schalom.
Paul Kalt.
Translation by
Link: Not yet available.

Kolumnen. Columns

16. Ezras Advide-Kolumne.
Translation by Jonah Evers.
Link: Here.

17. Trans*- und Tanzkolumne. / Wortbahnhof’s trans* and dance column
Wortbahnhof.
Translation by femmateurin.
Link: Here.

Rezensionen. Reviews:

18. Lifeworlds beyond labels / „Lebenswelten aller Kategorien“ zum Buch „Mind the Gap“ von Marie-Christina Latsch.
Rezension: Claudia Frenkel
Translation by Raptor-Femme.
Link: Here.

19. How Lotta was born (Review) / „Wie Lotta geboren wurde“ zum gleichnamigen Buch von Ka Schmitz und Cai Schmitz-Weicht.
Rezension: Mara Otterbein
Translation by: femmateurin
Link: Here.

20. Glossar. Glossary.
Translation by
Link: Not yet online.X