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Dieser Beitrag wurde unter Allgemein, Aufrufe abgelegt am von .

Menschen, Mythen, MUTTIationen– Ein Abgesang (engl. version)

A contribution by alsmenschverkleidet
Translation by bleistiftrebellx

Intro
I wasn’t free before either. At least my structurally forged chains were of a nice and decent lenght though, so I was sometimes able to successfully convince myself that they didn’t exist at all.
Freedom. Whatever that may mean to you. For me it means holding the privilege of choice, amon other things. Becoming and Being what I am, to live the way I want to. Together with those who are important to me. Without de_gradation, comments, oppression. Being subjected to even worse than that.

1st verse
The conclusion that I am not sick but pregnant occured simultaneously to the insight that I had been life-changingly mistaken in this case. EqualityTM in shiny writing glued, from now on, onto a family size package. The content unchanged. From human to nothing-but-emissary of my uterus in less than nine months. Compulsory labour following. All rights transferred to the holy mother. Finally, complete mummytation.

An ode to servitude.
If actually something more has been achieved than the highly-praised New Daddies buggy-parading around gentrified hip neighbourhoods, then why are we still missing visible and noticeable consequences everywhere? In the still rare case of their parental leave being longer than some months, their promptly written books or tales of woe that fill the feuilletons of notable daily papers eventually merely get the stamp: REMARKABLE. A monument cast in words to cement the EXEMPLARY EXCEPTION and to pirouette in large circles around themselves… and to not change a thing about the actual distribution of power.

Overtones.
As a person affected by sexualized violence, I have struggled to feel at home in my body again for a long time. Now I was again, and very differently, thrown back to physical traits, and I marveled – bemused or optimistic – at what was happening there for months. Above everything the measuring and commanding units with which a pregnant person today is strictly weighed. If you don’t comply, you’re instantly suspected of being an uncaring mother. Another successful strategy among the many diciplinary actions that focus on the female body, thus legitimizing all forms of appropriation.

Learning that I’m not cis either during this time – not exactly a coincidence. The more people around me insisted on me being on the peak of my femininty, the more I realized that this wasn’t true for me. I felt odd in a comfortable way in this body that hadn’t been there for me for such a long time… I wanted to enjoy that and not have to deal with and be bugged by the attributions of others.

2nd verse
Faded decal pictures of the mother serve as a basis, ostensibly enriched by high gloss covers à la working mum. There’s no room there for the fact that not only women get pregnant and that family does not equal fathermotherchild. The mother remains as a doubly biologically charged hinge-joint in charge of the functionality of the heteronormative system. Even if one resists, one will be pushed back into the old mold via the child. FamilyTM must remain what familyTM always has been. All who (want to) do it differently – only deserters, to be decried.

I didn’t plan to become part of a fathermotherchild ensemble. Even during my pregnancy, friends and I discussed about possible parent-al-ternatives, made plans, laughed and were scared together. After the child was born, for the time being there was neither time nor space to continue working on that. Theorizing about alternatives was now a complete luxury I couldn’t afford to practice. Pushed aside into a wholly one-dimensional layout of motherhood. To be filled in right now, closely emebedded in a tightly measured code of conduct. Misdemeanour leads to penalization by your entire surroundings, first and foremost by fellow parents (solidarity always ends where „my“ child is concernded!) and also everybody who had ever held a book about child development in their hands or seen something about it on TV. Diversity in parenting styles and a seemingly widened definition of family – ultimately another fairy tale of capitalist free market reason. Only going so far that it doesn’t really shake up the Traditional and remains economically exploitable.

Striking up a new song?!
Questioning the mythically overloaded term „Mother“, stripping it down little by little and laying bare with the scalpel of deconstructivism what is at work underneath it, that’s a possible way (for me). Starting far away from the confining one-way streets towards a parting of the ways to explore new variations and concepts of real-life parenthood.

Outro
For me, this isn’t about attacking those who (can) identify with the term „mother“ and fill it for their purposes, but to make room for those who don’t. I have met a lot of great people, since the child is there, who go their paths of parenthood with sky-high burdens on their backs… Far too often the supposedly constructive criticism of the mother – from the dissociated examination of (mostly derogatively) so-called mama-blogs to the sole blaming of mothers for all evils of the world – only again masks the many facets of misogyny, more or less aptly.

The child teaches me personhood anew, reminds me of what really counts, and above everything there’s an omnipresent snugly orange-yellow giant love. That only makes me take offence more at the close-knitted confines of the mother role, at how little, in its stereotypical version, it represents me and my life.
For me, family (by choice) and parenthood is what I make of it. It’s not a rigid construct, but fluid and adaptable to the needs of everyone involved, or at least that’s the idea that lights up the path. As practiced by me, it includes friends as much as relatives that are dear to me. I would love to accompany many more children into the world and watch them as they take up space and grow… but under no circumstances do I ever want to go back to that hell of biologistic backlash that I was pushed towards in my pregnant body and that I haven’t left for long yet.

Alsmenschvergleidet is the white genderqueer parent of a three-year-old child, writes for umstandslos.com about queerfeminist parenting issues and occasionally blogs on www.alsmenschverkleidet.wordpress.com, where this text was originally published. The TM or italic letters are meant to point out the problematic constructs behind the thus marked terms.

Back to the dossier overview.

“If I were a boy”: Young Queers in US-Television

By Steffi Achilles
Translation by Elena

What kind of rolemodels exist for non-heterosexual youth in US Television? How are young queers represented there?
The ability for underaged people to decide what gender they identify with, which sexual orientation they have or what kind of relationship they want, if they are cis or trans*, gay or lesbian is often under discussion. Within these public debates young people are portrayed as too young, too immature, too unexperienced . Some people even think that having contact with non-heterosexual people can be dangerous for young people, or thinking about it: for everyone.

The other side of the debate claims that young people are capable to decide on their identities and bodies. Kids are already raised in heteronormative structures, where the logic dictates that they are only two opposite genders that are romantically and later also sexually attracted to each other.
There is no uprise against the heterosexualisation of young kids, because it is seen as normal.

What kind of young people are portrayed as gay, lesbian, bisexual/pansexual, genderqueer, transgender or inter(sex) in current US-Television?

Gay boys were starting it off
Young, non-heterosexual main characters are relatively new in mainstream television.
After seeing Rickie Vasquez (played by Wilson Cruz) in the Series ‚My So-Called Life‘ (ABC, 1994) it took 10 more years for me to stumble upon Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicat) in the show ‚Ugly Betty‘ that was screened from 2006-2010 on ABC. Shortly after that we could see Eric van der Woodsen (Connor Paolo) in ‚Gossip Girl‘ (2007-2012 The CW) and Marshall Gregson (Keir Gilchrist) in ‚United States of Tara‘, which was screened 2009-2011 on Showtimes.
Justin and Marshall are portrayed in a similar way: young, skinny teens, shy and ‚unmanly‘ in a way that gave the viewers a chance to interpret them as queer right from the beginning. Both of them do arty activities (editing films & fashion design) and are from less privileged families.

Like ‚Ugly Betty‘, ‚Gossip Girl‘ is also situated in New York but in an upper class setting, meaning that Eric is part of a rich and influential family. In all three shows the characters main topics are coming out, their first samsex kiss and relationships. Another interesting show in this contest is ‚South of Nowhere‘ (The N – Teen Nick) in which a lesbian and a bisexual teen are portrayed. The Show ran from 2005 to 2008

Looking for an Identitiy during High School
The Fox-show ‚Glee‘ that started screening in 2009 features 5 main characters that are LGBT*. Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) is bullied by his peers for not presenting as heterosexual from the very beginning of the show. In Season 2 he is joined by, his later romantic relationship, Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss), who helps him stand up to the abuse he endures in school.

The two cheerleaders Brittany Susan Pierce (Heater Morris) and Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) start off as close friends, that are revealed having a more complex relationship to each other later in the show. After a lot of struggles they start leading a more or less monogamous relationship.
The Show ‚Pretty Little Liars‘, that runs since 2009 is evolving around four girls that share a common friend Ali, who disappears and whose corps is (presumely) found.
The main story line is the detective work that the friends do in order to find Alisons killer.

One of the friends is Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell), whose lesbian relationship is part of the storyline from day one. Emily experiences a difficult coming-out in the first season, where her parents are not ok with her relationship with Maya and her identification as lesbian.
This being said, the romantic lifes of the four friends take less room in the show than their relations with each other, which makes the show even more interesting.

The Show ‚Faking It‘ exists since 2014 and portrays Amy Raudenfeld (Rita Volk) and Karma Ashcroft (Katie Stevens), who are faking to be lesbians and are couple in order to be more interesting in their progressive high school. While Amy is starting to think that she might be in love with Karma for real, Karma is trying to catch the attention of boys at their school.

A lot of storylines in ‚Pretty Little Liars‘, ‚Glee‘ and ‚Faking It‘ discuss finding an identity and words for young people to explain themselves.
Santana experiences a big break through when she finally self-identifies as a lesbian and comes out to her religious latina family.

Santana, Brittany, Amy, Karma and Emily are TV-figures that are portrayed as equally feminine to the other girls in the shows. Emily is a swimmer and while her other friends also do sports, like running or tuning their bodies, Emily is always seen as the sporty one or as a tomboy. Amy is also portrayed as less feminine than Karma, altough this distinction within the show is not visible for the viewers on the first glance.

Trans & genderqueer as a sidenote
In Season 3 of ‚Glee‘ the young transwoman Unique Adams (Alex Newll) enters the Glee Club. In the Musical-Club which gives the show its name, the young people cover rock and pop songs, often in order to work through conflicts or share personal thoughts and emotions. Unique sings the song ‚If I were a boy‘ by Beyoncé in episode 05×05 after being harassed by cis boys while trying to use the bathrooms.23

‚House of Lies‘ (Showtime) is, as far as I know, the only show in US-Television portraying a genderqueer person as a lead character: Roscoe Kaan (Donis Leonard Jr.). Their Father Marty is sometimes overwhelmed, for example when Roscoes wants to try out for the female lead in ‚Grease‘ or shouts at museum visitors because they stare at them. In general he is very supportive towards Roscoe and is the only one who believes them when they are accused to having kissed a schoolmate against their will.

Sex, Drugs & religious media campaigns.
The show ‚Skins‘ (MTV, 2011) who is a remake of a British show with the same name features the student Tea Marvelli (Sofia Black-D’Elia) who first appears having romantic relationships with girls but later on has a long affair with a boy called Tony. Sex with him is weird for her at the beginning, but this changes quickly. Tea is portrayed like most of the current LGBT*IQ characters as having high self-esteem, honest, witted and determined.

Sadly the show was stopped after the first season by MTV.24 One of the main reasons was that the ‚Parents Television Council‘ 25 called the show ‚child pornography‘ which had a huge impact of sponsors who withdrew their investments.
The fact that alcohol and drug use were also part of the storyline probably didn’t help the reputation of the show in these circles.

The Show ‚Shameless‘ who started 2011 in the US brings sexual activity and drug use by minors to the screens aswell. Ian (Gerard Kearns) is a gay teen who is part of the Gallagher family around which the show is centered. He wants to enter the US-Army and spends a lot of time training for this. After a short affair with a married man he starts a not-monogamous on-and-off relationship with Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher), an aggressive and violent boy from his neighbourhood. When Micheys dad finds out about their relationship he beats up his son and makes him having sex with a woman while he stays in the room and makes Ian watch aswell.
So far as I now the ‚Parents Television Council‘ hasn’t issued a statement concerning ‚Shameless‘, maybe because the show is not directly targeting teenagers as ‚Skins‘ does or because it is screened on the Pay-TV channel Showtime and not on public television.26

Showtime also features shows like ‚Queer as Folk‘, ‚The L Word‘ or ‚Nurse Jackie‘ who are probably not ‚family-friendly‘ from a Christian perspective.

Supernatural is the new queer
The fantasy show ‚True Blood‘ not only portrays a lot of queer characters but also plays with the similarities between real LGBT*QIA movements 27 and the struggle for rights for vampires, who in the most cases are not strictly heterosexual. I would also argue that supernatural characters in fantasy shows very rarely go through the same process of finding an identity and coming out as their human counterparts do. The status of supernaturals seems to give them more freedom and power over their bodies. Queer youth is not part of the main cast in ‚True Blood‘.

In contrast, the fantasy show ‚Teen Wolf” (MTV, since 2011) has a gay werewolf since 2013: Ethan (Charlie Carver), whose identical twin Aiden is heterosexual. In this show the sexual identity of Ethan is not a big topic and he has more or less an equal amount of affairs as his twin. This could also be because the twins stories are anyhow overshadowed by the heterosexual (ex-) relation between the two ultimate main characters.

Since a couple of years young queer characters are part of US-Television. These shows are rarely criticized by conservatives if they don’t target directly young people and show youth doing drugs or having sex.

The LGBT*IQ characters are mostly portrayed as powerful and often work through finding and identity and coming out. Only supernatural characters do not have to come out, because they are apparently able to self-define their sexual preferences and act outside of anti-queer structures.
In US-Shows we most often see gay boys/man, followed by lesbian girls/woman and very, very rarely also transgender or genderqueer people. Inter(sex) characters haven’t been main characters and the portrayal of asexuals is also a difficult topic that is worth an article of its own.

author:
Steffi Achilles grew up near Bremen and is currently living in Frankfurt am Main (Germany). They mainly blog about queer characters in US-Shows on www.queersehen.de [german]

23
http://www.metatube.com/en/videos/209501/
GLEE-If-I-Were-A-Boy-from-The-End-Of-Twerk-Full-Performance
24
http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/06/09/mtv-cancels-skins
25
The „Parents Television Council“ (www.parentstv.org) is a fundamentalist christian lobby organisation in the USA who claim to be active for the ’safety of children‘. Their mainly talk about being ‚family-friendly‘ which means holding up their christian ideal of heterosexuality, monogamy and sexual abstinence. Everthing that they see as not ‚family-friendly‘ is being targeted by media campaigns and attemts of censoring.

26
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/27/entertainment/la-et-skins-essay-20110127
27
http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/06/25/
true_blood_reviewed_why_hbo_s_vampire_show_is_a_queer_masterpiece.html

Back to the dossier overview.

Shabbat Shalom!

By Paul Kalt
translation by sophie

It is because of my Jewish heritage, that I have for a while now been contemplating my Jewish culture and religion. Recently, I decided to pay a visit to the local Synagogue. The first visits went by without any complications. The rabbi took me in with open arms and younger parishioners introduced me to the procedure of the service. The following incidents happened on the day, that I decided to out myself as a trans man. Because I did not have sex reassignment surgery and dress feminine on special occasions, it is not very obvious which gender I relate to. On this specific day a new rabbi than the one before was present at the service.

I am as nervous as the first time. Intimidated and confused my eyes dart over the waiting crowd in the entrance area. The fluted cup filled with coke slips through my hands. The plastic crinkles. I am trying to become invisible behind a newspaper.
„Hello! Who are you? Are you here for the first time? Where did you leave you`re kipah? Did you forget it?“
The child is approximately 5 years old. Excitedly it jumps up and down in front of me.
I have to smile to myself, but try to keep composure, arraying my black skirt.
Imagining the man next to the entrance being this child’s father, I reply: „I have been here three times alreay. Maybe you were not here then. I am a woman!“
„No way! You are lying!“
„No, just wait, I will be going up with the other women once the service starts.“
I don’t want to overwhelm the child, I’m thinking.
At the very same moment I get angry about this compulsion to assimilate.
Trying to find the right passages in the book, I am sitting up front, in between two elderly women.
Listening to the familiar sounds of the rabbi’s melody, I am entering a trance, feeling like I have arrived.
The child is looking up to me, whisper-shouting: „You are wrong up there!“
The pleasant feeling vanishes in an instant. What am I doing here? I am on the fence, but finally remain seated.
After the service the parish gathers in the neighboring hall of the synagogue. The table has been set and after the prayer the glasses are lifted.
„Boys don’t have things like that.“
With a serious face the child examines the rings and bracelets on my hands. „Or are you actually a women??“
With eager eyes and an impish grin he looks up to me. The mother of the child puts her forefinger on her lips: „Shhhhhhh.“ (It is forbidden to speak before the meal.)
„Well“, I open my mouth to speak, as the napkins are lifted. Fishbread and cakes appear underneath them. I turn to my neighbor as I am a bit embarrassed now of the unclear image I am projecting on the child.
„You are just right, I am not a women.“
The child smiles proudly.
„I knew it!“
„But now I have to ask you a question as well, after you have been pestering me all this time. So, why is that you think that men cannot wear things such as rings or necklesses?“
„Hmm“, the kid spots a lonely ring in my right ear.
„Oh ok, well, actually you are just wearing one earring, like boys do.“
In connivance we focus on the delicacies on the tables.
It doesn’t take long until the child wants to share his newly gained news about me.
„I am sitting next to a boy, a boy“, it reveals, high-voiced, the happy news to the rest of the group.
The relatives intend to intervene, admonishingly.
„Ruben, please leave the woman alone.“
„But its true, he said so himself!“
„Be quiet! This is nothing to joke about.“, his father rebukes him softly.
„S_he is certainly right“, I accede.
The rest of the group is looking mesmerized now. Some have to chuckle.
The rabbi approaches the source of turmoil with big steps.
„Who is this girl there? Is she new?“ He asks a person, who just shoved a big piece of trout in his*her mouth.
I feel compelled to make a move and get up hastily.
„Paul, hello. I am not a girl.“- I introduce myself, trying to extract my most graceful countenance.
The rabbi ignores my hand and instead uses his own, wide spread hands, to throw them up over his head in despair. His kipah almost falls off his head.
„That just can’t be true!“
Broad laughter, shaking heads. One person speculates that this could all just be a play.
I am trying to make myself heard. The blood is boiling in my temples.
„There is a saying among us jews“, the rabbi explains.
„We say: Can black people change their color of skin?! So, how can it be true, what you are telling me?“
„That goes without saying, there is no need for a discussion!“, another member of the parish exclaims. „Exactly. The women are sitting up front, and the men are sitting down here,“ the rabbi reckons, „so tell me, who are you?“
My face frowns.
I don’t have to put up with this, I think.
„A good day to you, Shabbat Shalom.“ I leave the hall.
In retrospect I think, that the conversation with the child was very valuable.

Back to the dossier overview.

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.

Back to the dossier overview.

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.

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“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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