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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,

[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,

[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?

2, in leicht veränderter Form in Queerulant_in Nr. 7, S. 20 nachzulesen

*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 (
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.


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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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