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.