I quit, a.k.a. “Lo confieso, renuncio”

Mi querido amigo Pablo ‘Kagu’ Vergara Pérez y su esposa Karen Sánchez López han traducido mi blog tratando de mi deserción hormonal de los rangos de personas trans* desde el Inglés original. Encuentra la aquí abajo. Encuentralo en original en La Trans Tienda.

“No sé exactamente cuándo ocurrió, pero, en un momento dado, me harté de verdad de los estrógenos. Se convirtieron en un estorbo, un obstáculo. O tal vez fue que creía en ellos. Pero todavía soy trans. Quizá aún más.

Cuando a principios de la década de los 90 decidí hacer la transición desde algún punto de la masculinidad, una persona de sexo masculino asignado al nacer, pero que nunca se identificó realmente con él, y que siempre se había distanciado del comportamiento de los niños en la escuela y en la calle, lo primero que pensé fue que seguramente yo no era más que un marica, un maricón, una reinona (bueno, por aquel entonces, todavía una princesa tímida). Como muchxs jóvenes insegurxs de su género y su sexualidad, “experimenté” durante algún tiempo con las relaciones. Tuve una especie de relación heterosexual con una mujer cis ocho años mayor que yo, y también tuve una especie de relación homosexual con un gay cis, también unos ocho años mayor que yo (pero no de la misma edad que mi pareja femenina 😉

En drag a la inauguración del festival de cinema Transcreen en Amsterdam, 2011

En drag a la inauguración del festival de cinema Transcreen en Amsterdam, 2011

Una experiencia reciente me hizo ver con mayor claridad que mi homosexualidad se debe principalmente a la expresión de género, y no tanto a la sexualidad. Y también tengo una hermosa bufanda por eso. Veinte y tantos años después de transicionar para alejarme de la masculinidad, finalmente conseguí la respuesta sobre esta cuestión. Podría haber sido peor.

Cuando por fin me dieron la disputadísima Luz Verde para empezar la terapia de reemplazo hormonal, estaba feliz: me colocó físicamente en el camino que estaba convencidx de que quería o que necesitaba caminar. Soy una persona sencilla, cuando estoy convencidx de algo, estoy convencid*. No es que convencerme sea particularmente fácil, pero una vez convencidx no me alejaré mucho de mis convicciones. Así que, cuando inicié la trayectoria para ser Mujer, me convertí en una fiel seguidora del protocolo y la tradición. Me tomé mis Androcur y Estradiol fielmente, cualesquiera que fueran los efectos. Me alegré (silenciosamente, porque tenía muy pocxs amigxs) con los pechos que empezaban a despuntar y, por supuesto, di por sentado que aparecerían los molestos sentimientos de depresión. Aunque también maldije al castrante Androcur. Yo creía en la ideología transexual (y me refiero a algo completamente diferente a las TERFs(1) o la Mayoría Moral). Maldije sus efectos deprimentes, seguramente unidos a el efecto emocional de los estrógenos. Tomar estos caramelos es como subir a una montaña rusa. Me eduqué a mí mismx en la carrera sociológica trans y femenina. Y todavía estoy muy satisfechx con los resultados.

Pero dejé los estrógenos unos dos años después de la cirugía de afirmación de género. Porque era *demasiado* emocional. Y yo había perdido la pista de quién sentía ser. Quién quería y necesitaba ser. Un psicólogo o un endocrinólogo menos positivo me habría etiquetado como un arrepentimiento o un abandono. Tuve la suerte de tener un endocrinólogo (Louis Gooren) que se interesó, que quiso conocer mi historia, mis razones. Y creyó en mi respuesta a su pregunta que si lo sabía antes, que si tenía remordimientos. Que era “no”, exactamente igual que cuando unos dos años más tarde decidí dejar de lado mis implantes mamarios. Había funcionado, tuvo un efecto bueno, positivo y constructivo sobre mí. La combinación de estrógenos y más tarde los implantes mamarios me permitió verme y sentirme a mí mismx más femeninx. Para los visitantes laicos: ser hombre o mujer no proviene de las hormonas o la cirugía, es una indentidad de género.

Probablemente mis compañerxs trans se asustaron por lo que hice (el 90% eran mujeres trans que se encontraban en alguna etapa de su transición). Mi desafío no sirvió precisamente para aliviar sus dudas e inseguridades acerca de sí mismxs y del mundo (principalmente, del mundo), aunque, en realidad, seguramente lo peor fue „el hecho“ de que estada dejando de lado el activo más importante para la visibilidad de las mujeres trans: un buen pecho. Y encima, dejar los E … Además, empecé a relacionarme más con bois, quasi hombres trans, chicos trans que no estaban hormonándose sobre todo porque no se sentían realmente masculinos. De alguna manera, esto hizo sonar una alarma en mi interior. Y poco después me uní a un grupo de apoyo de hombres trans abierto a todos [los hombres-no-cis] (que estaban explorando alguna manera su masculinidad) Empecé a identificarme en broma como un “hombre trans nacido en el cuerpo equivocado”. Pero no, realmente nunca me identifiqué voluntariamente como alguien masculino. Supongo que he sido femenina, y sin duda me indentifique como tal durante años (aunque, en cierto modo, en realidad me identificaba más como lesbiana, después de que lo hiciese Monique Wittig).

Después de dejar los E, he pasado uno o dos años sin ningún suplemento hormonal. No puedo aconsejarte que hagas lo mismo ¿verdad? Es malo para tu salud, te hace sufrir los efectos desagradables del Cambio, y te convierte técnicamente en post-menopáusica. Yo tuve que sufrir todos esos efectos antes de decidir que necesitaba algo para reemplazar a los estrógenos, aunque no me planteaba volver a la testosterona. Supe de algo que tenía un efecto feminizante débil, y un efecto masculinizante débil. Unx amigx míx, andróginx lo tomó, así que yo se lo conté a mi endocrinólogo y durante algún tiempo me fue bien. Quieras que no, después de la cirugía hace falta tomar algo. Y esas noches sudorosas, donde cada pensamiento tenía el efecto que normalmente sólo produce el miedo, además de la pérdida de la energía y ganas de vivir… que, además, son necesarias para poder salir de esa situación. Sin embargo, después de un tiempo dejó de ser suficiente. La alternativa era ir a por una dosis baja de testosterona. Que he ido aumentado a medida que pasan los años, hasta alcanzar la dosis media para un hombre trans, que suele ser buena, y a veces demasiado o demasiado poco.

La pregunta de los 1.000€ para muchos es: ¿he de-transicionado? ¿Me arrepentí después de todo? Me relaciono principalmente con hombres trans… Debo haber violado la primera enmienda de las mujeres trans: dejar de lado la feminidad. Menuda imagen para estos días (qué vergüenza).

Avanzamos hasta el año 2015. Ahora puedo decir (con orgullo) que he intentado ser un hombre (aunque terminé siendo un marica), he sido una mujer, y he hecho un viaje para llegar a ser algo completamente diferente, más allá de esos dos extraños cajones en los que el mundo ha intentado colocarme. A veces considero la posibilidad de tomar otras clases de T, o más T. Pero casi siempre termino por olvidarlo al darme cuenta de que las hormonas sexuales no me controlan demasiado. Y si hay un mensaje en todo esto, podría ser: haz lo que te haga sentir bien, y trata de encontrar unx médicx que tenga más interés en que seas feliz y estés sanx, que en seguir el protocolo. Y que no hay por qué arrepentirse (aunque el arrepentimiento es parte de la vida). Renunciar puede significar perfectamente viajar a géneros hasta ahora desconocidos. Ir donde nadie ha ido antes. Navegar hacia los territorios desconocidos de trans*.

(1) NdT: las TERFs son las Feministas Radicales Trans Exclusionarias, por sus siglas en inglés. Se trata de un nuevo movimiento pseudofeminista que se centra en perseguir a las mujeres trans, tratando de expulsarlas de todo espacio público (incluyendo acciones tales como comunicar que son trans a las empresas donde trabajan para que las despidan). Por suerte, este tipo de movimiento todavía no existe en España.”

Verjaardagskado

Dit prachtige kunstwerk is gemaakt door Hannah Biemold, vriendin en zwaar begaafd kunstenaar. Als verjaarskado voor mij. Ben er dan ook erg trots op.knipwerk vreer online

Wie en wat zie je hier allemaal op: Het geheel vormt een vijfvingerige klauw, met bovenaan vijf beren als nagels. Ik heb een hele rij beren staan, dus dit is zeer toepasselijk :) Daaronder zie van links naar rechts Kate Bornstein (de oer-transgender outlaw, tante van alle transen; z.o. Twitter), Salvador Allende (de op 11 september 1973 bij een staatsgreep vermoorde socialistische president van Chili), Leslie Feinberg (auteur van Stone Butch Blues en vele politieke artikelen en boeken over trans*, vorig jaar overleden aan de gevolgen van een te laat behandelde Lyme infectie, dankzij het rotte verzekeringssysteem in de VS), Officer Aeryn Sun uit Farscape (Australische SF televisieserie), en mijzelf.

De palm van de klauw bestaat uit vele elementen, onder meer een portret van de vampier Lestat, een beer met transgenderteken in de bek (rechtsboven Lestat), fragmenten uit The Origin of Love van Hedwig and the Angry Inch (linksonder Lestat). Centraal, middenin de muil een soort Lady Liberty of Marianne of zo met transgenderdraaikolkvlag  (mijn transsymbool). Aan de rand van de vlag zie je een ster, ongeveer ter hoogte van waar op de kaart van Chili Santiago ligt. Chili strekt zich hier dus uit tot vlak onder mijn portret in het noorden en tot onderkant van de kaak van de muil in het zuiden. Verder zitten er allerlei exotische buitenaardse beesten uit Ravian in verwerkt, onder andere rechtsonder een Vogel van de Meester.

Het is ook Hannahs op een na grootste (ik meen grootste nog bestaande) en meest complexe knipwerk. Ik ben best zwaar onder de indruk.

I almost knew you, Alan

Text by Miquel Missé, translated from original at http://www.idemtv.com/es/2015/12/30/camarada-alan/

I almost know you, Alan. They had proposed me to pay you a visit, a couple of weeks ago to lift you up a bit. To tell you about the many dates when you’re a trans guy, or that the best remedy against bullying is girlfriends, or that Barcelona has a great group Jovens Trans (Trans Youth) that would shower you with kisses and would teach you the non-binary language, or that you could go see a movie some Friday in Espai Trans (Trans Space) and that you could take your mummy with you so she could have a coffee with the other volunteer-mummies of Grupo Familias Trans (Trans Family Group) in the side-room. Or that you could join an event of the big Generem (Gender) family. Or that you’d go to a concert of Viruta FtM. Many spaces you would have been welcomed warmly, where you would have felt less alone, but where you never went. Of course, if there would be anyone who could understand you, it would have been your equals, the dozens of of trans guys and girls who crowded yesterday in a manifestation to remember you. Who, just like you, ran a steeple chase to survive in school, with serious doubts if they would make it. Who invented dozens of stratagems to go unnoticed in hostile spaces, telling lies to not show our documentation. Who know of the 1001 black holes you could fall through constructing a boy identity with knowing where to start.

I almost know you, and at the same time, it is almost like I knew you.

These days many people ask how it can be that committed suicide. They raise their hands to their heads. What I think is why it doesn’t happen more often. More, the question ought to be: why shouldn’t it happen. Surely many comrades who day in day out give talks and workshops about sexual and gender diveRIP Alanrsity in hundreds of schools, share this reflection. And every day discover someone who literally survives in their class. The school bullying for having a different gender expression or identity is on a daily basis. You don’t have to take much effort to see it, in gthe squares, corridors, dressing rooms. No mystery at all. The majority of LGTB persons tell stories of discrimination during adolescence. Dozens of reports have been written to tell it still takes place, but still people are surprised. More than naivety, it is utter hypocrisy. Your death will doubtlessly bring school bullying on page one. But what I a am not clear about is if they will develop politics to transform this scenario.

Now it is easy to say #YoTambiénSoyAlan (#IAmAlsoAlan). That is what the whole world does. But it is way more difficult to be Raquel, Sara, Nico, Claudia, Paul … that are still alive. Some days they fight under the blankets not to go to school ot who seek a new school. Who resist through therapy or some pill to calm their discomfort, caused in part by many boys and girls exercising violence to show that they triumphed in reproducing the hegemonic gender roles but who in turnare also victims dresses up as executioner. Who survive with patches that only seek to readapt them as if it depended on them, hiding our collective responsibility. Having to hear every day the mantra that the environment is difficult to change and that reality is thát suffocating and the binary só engrained … Thus implanting the defeat.

But notwithstanding all that noise, Raquel, Sarta, Nico, Claudia, Paul .. are still alive.

I remember that not even a year ago, when we launched project OASIS, holiday camps for LGBT youth in Barcelona, hearing form some public administrations that the bullying wasn’t that strong. That in the end people found a way out, we shouldn’t overdramatise .. in the end. I really would have taken you with OASIS.

Let all this sadness that engulfs us these days not blind us. May this sadness return us our rage against a system to which your death is just collateral damage. Like the women we bury each month, like the fucking faggots that is painted on bathroom doors. Your death is the best example that our culture is rooted in the idea that there are only men and women, boys and girls. With opposite bodies and binary brains, polarized behaviors, heterosexual desire. Your death is the best example of a structural disaster: sexism.

IMG_20151231_094046When trans boys and girls won’t have to hide their identity in class, that would be a success. That they can be trans people in their school, trans colleagues of their friends, trans alumni of their teachers. Without having to guard any secret. In order to get there, that trans youth can feel safe, we need trans role models, trans culture, and much much trans pride.

Le no one believe that will be fixed by changing the names on out ID’s, nor by changing our bodies. That would help us live better.nut wouldn’t do away with the system that led you to your death. The answer lies in stop focusing on what trans people should change, and start with changing the social system that, to start with, pathologises our experience demanding a certificate of mental illness every step we take.

May your rebellious smile with which the media torture us serve to pass the lament and keep us in the struggle. May it serve to keep your memory alive with the deepest trans rage. Because a comrade is who – without getting to know them – we can know through their day to day struggles as through their great battles, share them and love them.

I almost knew you comrade Alan. But from now on we surely will not forget you.

Tranbs kids in Chile at commemoration

 

How did we get where we are?

Text of a talk given at the MERLINKA queer film festival in Belgrade December 10, 2015

HOW DID WE GET WHERE WE ARE? INTERSECTIONAL QUEER TRANS ACTIVISM FROM A DUTCH PERSPECTIVE

I have been asked to give a talk on the progress we made in the Netherlands, on the level of LBGTI rights, and what remains to be done. I interpret this as: how did we get where we are?

That means that the first question is: where are we actually? And who is this we that are somewhere?

I argue that the we that has arrived in supposedly LGBT Valhalla, in the Netherlands, is in the end only a pretty privileged group. Although officially all their rights also apply to those excluded. I will show that a legal approach – however needed – always fall short without a focus on what society we need. It will always fall short without anti-austerity, anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-war politics.

The rights that formally apply to everyone in the country are not in reach of everyone. If you are a trans* person of colour in the Netherlands, and in many other countries, you are supposed to have trouble with your family, and you are supposed to be of a Muslim background. Which means they will pit you either as the enemy and call slurs to deny your humanity including your being, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex. Or they accept you happily as theirs – usually as their token trans or gay of colour – and pit you against the others who are thus even more black than before. You as a trans*  person of colour however are suddenly white and semi-privileged. But only partly because you still won’t have a job because of racial discrimination. And when you complain that you have issues in your own community the white people fail to respond. Mainstream LGBT organisation COC does a good job in lobbying and capacity building for minority sexualities and also do lots of trans* political work. The trans* organisation is not capable to do it. As a mostly lobby organisation however their possibilities to garner cultural change are limited. Only under-priviliged minority groups are dong real community building now.

EQUALITY

The Dutch constitution posits all laws apply to everyone equally. Which is not self evident anymore since a couple of European countries adopted strikingly discriminating constitutional clauses.

In Serbia and Poland marriage is only between a man and a woman. Which is naive at best and will create unwillingly male mothers in same sex relationships. Women who thanks to a social life prior to their newly acquired and acknowledged gender are the fathers to their child. And fathers who, thanks to giving birth before legal gender change, also are the mothers of their child. This is a pre-queer genderfuck, unwillingly created recently by naive heteronormative lawyers. So, queering cisnormative discourse, I would incite those MP’s and lawyers to keep on doing this. They bring the world we wish of female fathers and male mothers (next to the more traditional male fathers and female mothers) closer than we could hope for.

Ah, yes. That is an issue still of course. We cannot marry. Well, actually, if we can convince our partners to stick with us, we will have de facto same sex relationships. Of course you can try to prohibit that also, but any lawyer with some sense in their brain will object to that for you endanger the stability of the legal system. So in that case also property rights for partner and children are arranged for.

HISTORY AND OURSTORY

Let me look back in time to tell you about the struggle that we had to get where “we” are, “as a country”. I love this “as a country”, as a nation state. Because it assumes and imposes a collective identity that must be created and maintained, enforced. With all mythology of what being your nationality constitutes. For Serbs you have to be strong, militaristic, war mongering, heteronormative. For the Netherlands its means being a welcoming, trading, gay and tulips loving country. I consider it one of my tasks to tear the rosy pink glasses, with which you look at my crazy country, off your nose.

In the 1960s the Netherlands also knew anti-gay fights. We still have anti-gay violence, and even more anti-trans violence. Actually “gay” did not yet really exists as an identity in the 1960s, most were homosexuals. Yes, words matter. The 1970s saw more and more homosexuals on the streets. I even walked the dogs of a homosexual or gay couple I knew through my parents (I was young and the dogs were big and strong). I was unaware of everything and gay or trans or whatever: fine with me. But homosexuals were in those days still getting conversion therapy and even electroshocks. And suicide was high, an uncle of mine took his life because of homophobia everywhere and surely also in himself.

Trans people finally got a place for medical attention in the 1970s and structurally from the 1980s. Legislation was adopted in 1985 and trans people had to undergo psychological screening, cross gender hormone therapy and genital surgery that made them infertile and preferably changed them “as far as possible” to “the other sex”. The reason why there is relatively low level of transphobic violence in the Netherlands (notwithstanding five killings in twelve years), has to do with this medicalising. We have a medical, even psychiatric condition, we cannot help it, and you are not to beat up mentally ill people. Plus we have a tradition of repressive tolerance. Also of the bad. See Black Pete. As long as you don’t scream too loud we keep it under cover. By the way, in my talk I mostly analyse. I do empathise with all struggles, also of cis straight people, but for that, and how to get forward, we have the discussion and personal talks.

In the meantime, through a tough going on, dealing and wheeling with politicians and several non-religious governments, we have won many rights, most recently the one of all-female parenthood without adoption. Until recently the second mother had to adopt her child. With men we still have issues. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are protected under general anti-discrimination law, trans people not. Yes, partially, under the sex clause. However to think that works, is naive. Because it does not protect us, aggressors do not see us as women or men, but as freaks. So we are not yet there and in politics the idea is slowly that we have reached everything important.

WHO IS THIS WE

And that brings me to the question “who are ‘we’”? Because when we look at queer rights, trans rights, intersex rights, how effective the protection of people of color is in the Netherlands, we see a gaping abyss. Intersex people, those born with a sex variation, people whose sexed body defies our dichotomous norms that there are only male and female bodies, have NO protection against heteronormative surgeons and endocrinologists. Trans people need psychological scrutiny to concur they are of sane mind in this wish. Only then can they go to the civil registry to change names and gender. Doctors and politicians are still scared shitless of autonomous trans people who without any scrutiny change their gender ad lib. Heaven forbid the bomb under the cisheteronormative system is thicker than blood, starts infecting the majority. Then, if you are a person of color, you are to suffer doubly, both under your cultural heritage and the white cishet system. Pardon, gender dysphoria.

WHAT TO LEARN FROM ALL THIS

I think it is important to learn you need patience and a good inclusive and intersectional strategy. Inclusive of your own minorities, inclusive of people with the right ideas although they may not belong diectly to the LGBTIQ community. For the it is of utmost importance to understand and act after the adage “Nothing about us without us”. Stand with sex workers. For many of us sex work is sort of a passage rite. A period of incredible vulnerability. Talk with Romani people how they are segregated and do not get rights. Many of the trans sex workers in the Yugo region are Romani people and they are shunned by the others. So in a an even worse situation than other trans people. Talk with immigrants about their struggle, see where you can help. Where they can help us. Talk with your intersex activists. Learn how the cisgender heteronormative system works, how it screws up all of your lives. Also that of the cisgender heteronormative people themselves, because they are not in the position to experiment with other ways of living, they are caught even deeper in the Matrix. Poor straight people. I pity you. Our Utopia is polymorphous perverse world where love and sex are no commodities anymore. Where we can frolic and fuck at work – but only with consent. Our future is a stateless queer ecosocialist society. It is a long road and we will know loneliness and bombs on the road, but remember: you never fight alone. Hasta la victoria siempre, comrades!

Knabbelen aan seksestereotypes

In de Nederlandse pers verschenen in een week tijd twee artikelen over de gendertweedeling zoals we die kennen. Zaterdag in de Volkskrant verscheen “Hecht niet zo aan de hokjes” van Sonja Alferink, en vandaag stond op de Joop een stuk getiteld “Mag ik een ander hokje? Deze past niet”. Als Superman zowel de nerdy journalist Clark kent is, als Redder der wereld, waarom kunnen anderen dan niet ook buiten hun voorgeschreven patronen treden? Continue reading

A talk on embodiment (LOVA 2014)

I am Vreer and I lost my gender already ages ago. Left it under some stone and have never found it back. I go by the pronouns “They”, “their” and “them”.

I guess I want to reflect a bit on this theme of embodiment, and gender. My story is not completely coherent, but neither am I anyway. It is both a reflection on a couple of questions and it is a couple of personal remarks, stories. A fragment of biography. Anyway.

In the Netherlands my body has no social significance. My body does not matter, does not count. My body must be adapted to a sexist and racist standard. Before it was the law that charged medicine to uphold a classic moral that certain identities were only legal and legitimate in certain bodies.  Now it is only medicine and social cultural norms; the law more or less took its hands off our body now. And many identities have no place anyway. Well, in a certain sense I am OK with that. I am way too cute for your binary. I can’t even think straight, let alone that I can adapt to cis standards. Best let me frolic and riot.

For me we can definitely sever the body from the biological. Or better we can ditch biologism. Biology as the description of all kind of processes that happen in bodies (human, animal or plant) and beyond definitely has its value. But as soon as it concerns things sex and gender, biology turns into ideology . As so many scientists, biologists don’t look very critical at the basis of their science. Most of them will never have heard of their eminent colleague Donna Haraway with her groundbreaking book” Simians, cyborgs and women, her later critique and analysis of bioscience “Modest_witness@Second_Millennium: Femaleman™ meets Oncomouse©”. The books that prove sex and gender diversity in all kind of species are often ignored or criticized from scientific dominant ideology.?Gender is always embodied. Not because we are born that way but because power relations inscribe gender on our bodies.

I, or we – I sometimes identify as a positive multiple (We are legion and so am I) – can definitely speak from my sexed and gendered body. My queerly gendered body that has slowly become comfortable to be while I peel off all the layers of imposed significance. I had to start with that just after finishing my second transformation, from Male to Female, or from hidden riddle-gender to Monique Wittig inspired lesbian to be. I had become an apparently cute trans* woman, but never felt comfortable with many things “woman”. Directly after breast surgery I had to wear a bra, a real one, not some kind of top. The horror. It felt I was made to conform to norms living close to the body, just for having a certain body. I have never been interested in female labelled underwear. if I considered it too frilly on others already, then surely on myself.
If I hadn’t felt the weight of expectations on me I probably immediately would have sought for something like army fatigues.

After some years and quite some torment – my love was just growing breasts and identified with mine – and binding, I decided to let go of my breasts. They didn’t fit with me anymore and I took them for a ‘false’ reason, almost as a test. They helped me in developing my womanhood, or femaleness, my femininity. That I let go of after a couple of years. I accepted my rejected masculinity. And later started working again at my femininity but then way queerer. I now associate (i never identify voluntarily anymore) as faggot, flikker, marica. Maybe I went full circle. I am a trans *man who was born in the wrong body.
Like my gender and how the world saw it, I never liked the way the world works either. Always too much wrong. Probably all of my life I proudly belonged to all kind of minorities. I love being part of all sort of minorities, but I absolutely do not like the lack of privilege it comes with, the lack of rights and possibilities.
Minorities are cool, deviant and oppressed groups have way more humour than the Ordinaries, the Others, los demás. de gewono’s. We are cool, you are dumb. You irritate us with your limited cis behaviour.  We have problems with your “cissplaining”. and we don’t need cis people to stand for us, we need you to stand with us!

(c) Carolina Ödman

Maybe I should tell you what I dream. How my ideal gender, body and sexually diverse world would look.
Non hierarchical to start with. Everybody celebrating diversity and creativity. Free love, no more (subtly) forced compliance with white, cis or straight normativity. No more wearing a pronoun sticker that tells your name and gender, nor badges with your pronoun. No list of fifty something gender or sexual options. Just a positive dotted line where you can tell what you want people to know. Being loved for being Different. And everybody learns sign language, with all the terms for our beautiful existences. Our own Deaf terms. Queer wheelies and other queer dis/abled people would be welcomed on sparkled ramps or other enabling solutions. The EU would be very colour, gender, crip, unicorn and women positive.

Not unimportant: out trans* people and out intersex people or people with an intersex status/condition would all be loved. Because that is a huge problem. We are hated. In five years we have counted more than 1,500 murdered trans* people, most of whom by the way were trans* women of colour doing sex work out of survival necessity. And I guess most of you neither have had much talk with trans* people, in a serious friendly non research related way. You all love us for research. But you never love us. Trans* people are in almost all environments radically not loved. And then there is a cotton ceiling: it hardly goes beyond the underwear. Of course I must not bear the sins of one researcher on all the others. #notallresearchers, you know. And #yesalltrans people. But my own experience appears to find collective recognition. I would actually say: try us out. Not as in taking a trial subscription, but open up to us, explicitly. Be revolutionary and love a trans*/inter* person! Confront the unknown. We have to do it every time when we engage with a cis person.

I do not want your acceptance, I want your transformation and don’t take “later” for an answer. You can help, you should help. The recruiting office is open after the discussion.

Tijd voor transitie

Goed. Vooralsnog is het bedrijfsavontuur mislukt. Op mijn manier, met mijn ervaring en met mijn gebrek aan commerciële ervaring lukt het niet. Dat ik niemand echt heb kunnen meekrijgen om meer projecten te schrijven en er misschien een gehonoreerd te krijgen, werkt ook niet mee. En dan is er een compleet gebrek aan enthousiasme van de gemeenschap (gemeenschap? Hebben we die hier dan?!) Schiet dus niet op.

Dan maar in transitie. Nummer zoveel. maar nu dan van ‘bedrijf’ naar iets anders, ik denk stichting. Uiteindelijk gewoon wel door me de activiteiten, al moet ik eerst afkicken en zien dat ik er anders mee omga. De kennis is er en we gaan ook niet echt dicht, maar we gaan verder op een andere manier, en op een lager pitje voor nu.

self love

Naast dat ik de bal bij mezelf leg, dient ie heel hard in het doel van een arme en bange transgemeenschap en een neoliberale economie die iedereen het fut tot anders-zijn probeert te ontnemen, worden geschoten. Want dat is het veld waarin ik werk. En dat dus niet werkt.

Een project dat ik intussen heb opgezet is is Principle 17, naar Yogyakarta Beginsel 17, het recht op de hoogst haalbare gezondheid. Daar moet de overheid garanties voor stellen en dat moet de medische wereld uitvoeren. En dat gebeurt totaal niet nu. Dus gaan we werken aan verbetering daar. Twee van de bestaande trans-organisaties werken al mee en we gaan zeker van ons laten horen.

Het geld moet maar van jullie allemaal komen dan, via de bijstand, want voor de arbeidsmarkt ben ik niet zo interessant schijnt het. Mocht je daar anders over denken, dan hoor ik dat graag en ben ik benieuwd naar je tip 😉

Tot dan,: het zij zo. Jammer dan. Los , en door. Voorwaarts, desnoods door de porseleinkast.

Toch wel

Ook ik heb zat twijfel gekend. Die vage, vreemde transtwijfel. Niet zozeer of het wel wat voor mij was. Meer hoe het dan zat, en dat ik alleen maar eind van mijn twintiger jaren echt iets begon te merken. Reconstructie doet mij geloven dat dat wel meevalt (of juist tegen). Ongemak krijgt door een translens plots meer cachet. Ik geloof dat ik uiteindelijk best een redelijk klassieke trans ben geweest altijd, behalve dan dat ik altijd al een Nobi (non-binaire) ben geweest.

Een van de dingen die in elk geval altijd sterk speelden was dat ik de wereld dan wel enigszins begreep en er tegen ten strijde trok, maar wie dat dan was, die ten strijde trok? Eh, geen idee … Ik heb jarenlang de ervaring gehad vooral vanuit achter in mijn hoofd naar buiten te kijken als het ware. Of zoals iemand ooit mij karakteriseerde: Sint Joris die de draak tegemoet gaat, maar met inadequate wapenrusting. Ik zou zeggen dat er een harnas naar de draak ging.  Joris was achtergebleven, was überhaupt afwezig. Een groot deel van de kinderverliefdheden hadden er zeker even veel mee te maken dat ik me diep met die meisjes associeerde, als dat ik ze leuk vond als in verliefdheid en zo. Wat men wel met “hebben of zijn” vertaalt. En daarin ben ik ook eigenlijk nooit echt eenduidig geweest.  Ik val nog steeds zowel op vrouwelijke vrouwen (cis of trans) maar ook op stoerdere die ik met het  “fiets- en kampeerwezen” associeer, die kunnen bouwen, vechten. En zachte mannen, lieve vriendelijke mannen. Die blijkens een recente ontdekking heus niet alleen maar glad en vrouwelijk hoeven te zijn. Je leert altijd bij. En lichamen hoeven al helemaal niet “eenduidig” te zijn, aan de cisnorm te voldoen. Zolang de persoon in kwestie er maar niet mee zit. Alles loopt door elkaar. Panta rhei, zeg maar, alles stroomt. Maar het was natuurlijk niet alleen richting anderen merkte ik dat ik anders was.

Als jonge twintiger van mannelijke kunne had ik een vreemde en vreemd sterke interesse in feminisme. Niet zozeer dat ik het raar vond dat ik in feminisme geïnteresseerd was, dat viel wel mee. Maar meer dat er in de diepte iets begon te woelen. Dat ik later als genderig heb kunnen plaatsen. En in leven en strijd was ik altijd al geïnteresseerd. Als opgroeiende puber aan de anti-atoomstroom strijd deelnemen, naar concerten van Chileense muziekgroepen als Quilapayún, Lautaro gaan, in demo’s tegen het eerste neoliberale regime meelopen … De laatste jaren snap ik pas wat ik met flikkers en flikkerstrijd had. Vond het wel leuk en spannend en soms aantrekkelijk, maar besefte ook: het gaat niet om de seksualiteit. Misschien dat ik daarom er ook vooral over las 😉

De enige ‘fout’ in dit gebeuren is geweest dat ik me als “vrouw” ben gaan zien een tijd. Of dat in elk geval heb geprobeerd. Lesbisch paste al beter (vanuit het perspectief van WIttig, insoumise)En bij gebrek aan beter ga je daar maar achteraan dan. En langzaam wijzen flikkertheorie, genderspul als Butlers performativiteit en vooral Kate Bornsteins “Gender Outlaw” de weg naar een geheel andere wereld. Die ook nog steeds de nodig investering vergt qua bewoonbaar maken. En die ‘fout’ is uiteraard geen fout: er was nog geen andere keuze en waarschijnlijk kan ik het het beste beschouwen als de ruwe vorm, die met wat verdere beitelen, zagen en vijlen deze vreer opleverde. En ja, het is heel gewoon dat de weg naar je genderbeleving via seksualiteit gaat, zeker als je alleen  sensationele fotoboeken vindt van “transgenderisten” die sekswerk deden in Sydney of op de Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Of lijpe psychiatrische theorieën. Ideeën over wat tegenwoordig “genderqueer” heet, werden in de jaren 1990 voor het eerst gekneed en met trans* gecombineerd. maar hier te lande moesten we wachten tot de eerste transgenderfilmfestivals in Amsterdam (vanaf eind 2001) tot er een grotere vonk zou overslaan.

Maar het begon dus al veel eerder. Ook zonder expliciet pesten meed ik de gegenderde wc’s op school nogal eens en voelde ik me in gezelschap van leeftijdsgenoten vaak heel ongemakkelijk. Van de lagere school herinner ik niet zo veel, behalve dat ik slap was en vooral dol op leren. De meeste puberteits- en adolescentieproblemen waren meer dan gewoon die van een getormenteerde puber. Ik herkende me ook in niemand, had geen voorbeelden. Dus modderde voort met de moed der hoop. Ik ben op een “reis” waarin ik veel dingen van vroeger opnieuw bezie en herinterpreteer, ontdek dat ze vaak wel degelijk een link hadden met gender.

Fascinating, die reis.

Destroy the cis-tem (on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015)

Tonight I want to talk you about the “cistem”, about the role of some  “feminists” in the cistem. And for that I need to explain a lot of other things first. Like who is trans*? And who counts as trans*?

transfeminismI will give you a bit of basics on trans* and trans* people, because usually not even most trans* people directly know everything. Maybe a bit of a comedown, but we are not all experts. Some people just want to live their life.

  • Trans people are those who change their legal gender because that other option fits better.

  • Trans people dress up, cross dress. Sometimes seriously, sometimes less seriously. Some identify as cross dressers, some don’t. And some don’t dress up at all.

  • Trans people are those who choose medical assistance to get their body (better) aligned with their identity. But many don’t do that, for various reasons, including lack of access to (affordable and good quality) trans health care.

  • Gender identity is the deeply felt personal conviction of being of some gender, and that is not by definition male or female.

  • Gender theory is evil, gender studies less so.

  • Gender diversity is global and of probably all times.

  • Some trans people are bitchy and others are stupid or dumb.
    Just like with cis people. But definitely more beautiful :)

  • More than 40% of trans* people have pondered suicide.

  • Since 2009 more than 1,700 trans* people have been murdered. In Europe Turkey and Italy are the worst. The Netherlands had two killings last year.

  • Some of our worst enemies call themselves feminists

  • We write trans* with an * to include all diversity within trans*

Terminology

We have to be careful with terminology. Careful with male and female, because these are not neutral terms. They contain many assumptions. And when you are not aware of that, you easily end up with the wrong feminists.

It seems we are all born with gender identity, probably in a rudimentary form. Actually I don’t think that is so important. We are human beings and thus endowed with rights. Also if we would not have any gender identity. Probably I am only preaching to the choir when I say that gender or gender identity is a social construction. The debates around this just change on how that works, hardly on the fact. Except that Judith Butler made clear how much sex and gender are a Siamese twin. There is no gender without sex, and sex without gender is incomprehensible.

Already in the 1970s feminism started to dismantle the patriarchal idea of a direct coupling of body and role. The famous statement that biology is not destiny. In the 1990s this was taken radically further and now again. The important contribution, that trans* has for feminism is showing ever more clearly that having a certain body is not a prerequisite for certain identities and expressions. I think that trans* nowadays makes very clear, how much patriarchy and moral conservatism hate autonomous people self determining the identity that lives in their body.

laverne

Kyriarchy

What cis and trans* feminists of any gender have in common is an elevated interest in dismantling patriarchy, or kyriarchy if you want. Only some – mostly white middle class cis women – forgot to read on since the 1970s. They still stick with the idea sex is immutable and gender is only roles.

And actually you may not be free from that either. Hopefully just because you don’t know better for never having messed with it. Maybe the easiest way is to just say what I and many other trans people expect, above all in feminist circles.

  • An easy one: we have pronouns, like you. If you don’t know for sure, ask us how we want to referred to as. Don’t assume either he/she not ze/they/xie. Better ask, than fuck up. Because of endless misgendering we are a bit sensitive about it.
  • We take the bathroom we want to take. Because it is the one indicating where people of our gender should go. Or just because it is the first toilet door on the left. Who cares.
  • Just like everyone we have a right not to be harassed wherever we go, including the right or wrong bathroom. What’s a wrong bathroom anyway. Maybe one that is defunct.
  • If I identify as a woman – however my body and especially my genitals may look – I have the right to shower with the other women. Naked. Also if I still have my native “male” genitals.
  • Nobody has the right to harass someone. For whatever reason. So support your trans sisters if they would have trouble because they don’t look not cis enough. Not being used to things, is not a reason to protest or to question someone’s identity.
  • Same applies in reverse: trans men are men and actually everyone is the gender they say they are. Same with me, whatever body parts you see or I have, they don’t define me.
  • Just that you have a womb (if you have one) doesn’t make you more a woman than someone who does not.

The biggest and I think simplest link between trans* and feminism is that trans* people are being confronted time and time again with social sexism and ingrained misunderstandings about bodies and roles and identities. Where even science starts to agree with us, not only the social sciences. There are more than two sexes, some five or nine. And there are a zillion of gender identities and expressions. Feminism states already from the beginning that biology is not destiny. Except for some people of course when you were born with a penis. Then biology is destiny. All of a sudden. And then the genitals and the gonads and chromosomes suddenly make the woman, doing away with all complexity of bodies and genders. In that sense I consider them quite silly.

And of course trans* feminism is multi-coloured and anti-racist – as all serious feminism should be. We don’t want to repeat the arrogance of 1980s mainstream white feminism that kept out women of colour and anarcha-feminists. Something improbable anyway these days: current feminism strikes me as becoming (finally)  rather inclusive of colour. Still feminism still is a complicated question, also in the students’ movement. Issues as colour, ableism and class need to be addressed everywhere all the time (Vrankrijk being not accessible to dis_abled people and non-smokers is also a feminist issue).

TERF

Some history or herstory on TERFs, the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. And some names. Actually the TERF story can be done away with by logic and opening up. Because it is logic fallacies and myths.

As so many things, it started more or less in the USA. In the 1970s. With a certain Janice Raymond. She wrote a book advocating for her vice, titled “The Transexual Empire : the making of the she-male”. Under the guise of scientific freedom and the freedom of press, the book itself is just semi-scientific rubbish as there has been before and has been afterwards, like Michael J. Bailey’s “The man who would be queen”. However, Raymond did not just write a book, she actively campaigned at then president Ronald Reagan for the closure of all gender clinics in academic hospitals and non-financing of trans friendly therapists, by which she actively and willingly endangered the lives of many trans people. Also her ideas directly or indirectly instigated a troupe of lesbian “avengers” on the trail of trans sound engineer Sandy Stone who worked at Olivia records, a radical lesbian record label. Stone was out and had the full support of the crew, but had to got into hiding because of the lesbian killers on her trail. If you don’t take my word for this, check the interview that Transadvocate had with Stone.

Fast forward to now: “theoretical” TERFness seems to be an Anglo-Saxon game. The biggest trans* haters live in the UK and in the US, and all are cis white middle-aged lesbians. Janice Raymond doesn’t do trans* anymore, she only does sex work-hate now. But the Big TERF is Cathy Bug Brennan, a lawyer at the Maryland bar. She is one of a bunch of active doxxers. “Doxxing” is revealing the name and whereabouts of trans women who often don’t use their daily names online. By doing this Brennan and friend Gallusmag endanger the lives of many trans women – and enjoy it. By the way, since October 28, 2014 we know who GallusMag or GenderTrender is, we have a picture of her. Her name is Linda V. Shanko.

In the UK we have Julie Bindel, Sheila Jeffreys and some others, also Germaine Greer who tried to get rid of a trans woman astronomer at Cambridge university. I know of no famous Dutch transhating feminists, but there certainly are a couple of them.

The nicest things they do or say about us is misgendering us, but they also engage in doxxing and talking us out of existence. Calling us male lesbians, men’s rights activists … they are in favour of so-called “bathroom bills” that exclude and forbid trans girls and trans women to use the women’s bathroom. Forbids them to pee actually, because you don’t go into the men’s room. They are a bunch of fanatic hating racist cis women (not all lesbians) that corner trans* women and endanger their existence because we need to stop living.

Dutch trans negative feminism is mostly cis women who are scared for trans women flagging their penises in their face, when in the bathroom or in the shower. That is what we do, it is our greatest pastime: waving our mighty tranny dicks into a cis woman’s face. Right. Complete and utter bullshit.

Cotton ceiling

An important misappropriated issue trans women are facing is the so-called “cotton ceiling”. So-called radical feminists blabber they are forced to have sex with trans women, because these are women and of course all women want to sleep with all other women. Analogous to the glass ceiling this describes the virtual isolation and lockout of trans* women where it concerns sexuality and relationships. It’s about the intersection of desirability and with transphobia and transmisogyny. The cis-academics among you all love us for research. But you never love us. Trans people are in almost all environments radically not loved.

And when, then it hardly goes beyond the underwear. Of course I must not bear the sins of a single researcher on all the others. #notallresearchers, #notallwomen, you know. And #yesalltrans people. My own experience appears to find collective recognition. So nowadays I only hang out with some of them, who happen to be my friends and quit trying to fuck my way into academia 😉

I would actually say: try us out. Not as in taking a trial subscription, but open up to us, explicitly. Be revolutionary and love a trans/inter person! Confront the unknown. We have to do it every time when we engage with a cis person. I do not want your acceptance, I want your transformation and don’t take “later” for an answer. You can help, you should help. The recruiting office is open after the discussion.

This is the text of a talk I gave on the occasion of March 8, 2015, International (Working) Women’s Day, in Casco, Utrecht.

I confess, I quit

I don’t know exactly when it was, but there was a time I got really fed up with estrogens. They became a hindrance, an obstacle. Or maybe it was the belief in them. But I am still trans. Maybe even more.

When in the beginning of the 1990s I decided to transition from somewhat male, a person assigned male at birth, but never really identifying with it and always estranged about the behaviour of the boys in school and in the streets, I first thought I would probably just be a sissy, a faggot, a queen (well, shy princess still then). As many gender and sexuality insecure youngsters I have been “experimenting” with relations. I had a sort of straight relationship with a cis woman of eight years older, and I had a sort of gay relationship with a cis gay of also some eight years older (but not the same age as my female partner 😉

A recent experience taught me more clearly that my gayness is mostly about gender expression, not so much about sexuality. And I got a beautiful scarf through it also.  Twenty odd years after transitioning away from male, I finally got the answer on thát issue. Could be worse.

When I got the nowadays much vied for Green Light for hormone replacement therapy, I was happy: it put me physically on the road I was convinced I wanted or needed to walk. I’m an easy person, when I am convinced of something, I am convinced. Not that convincing me is particularly easy, but I won’t stray much from my conviction. So when I go for the Woman trajectory, I am a faithful follower of protocol and tradition. I faithfully took my Androcur and Estradiol, whatever the effects. I cheered (silently, for I had very few peers) about budding breasts and took the discomfort of depressed feelings for granted. Though I also cursed that castrating Androcur. I believed in the transsexual ideology (by which I mean something completely different than the TERFs or the Moral Majority). I cursed its depressing effects, surely together with the emotional effect of the estrogens. It is a roller-coaster ride, being on those candies. I schooled myself in the trans and female sociological career. And am still very happy with the results.

But I quit estrogens some two years after gender affirming surgery. Because I was *way* too emotional. And I had lost track of who I felt myself to be. Who I wanted and needed to be. A less positive psychologist or endocrinologist would probably label me a regretter or a quitter. I was lucky to have an interested endocrinologist (Louis Gooren) who wanted to know my story, my reasons. And believed my answer on his question if I knew it before, if I had regrets. Which was “no”. just like when some two years later I decided to let go of my breast implants.  it had worked, had a good, positive and constructive effect on me. the combination of estrogens and later breast implants enabled me to see and feel myself to be more feminine. For the lay visitors: being male or female doesn’t come from hormones or surgery, it’s a gender identity.gentlevreer

My trans peers (90% trans women who were in some stage of their transition) were probably scared of what I did. Their doubts and insecurities about themselves and the world (mostly the world) were not served by my defiant or actually more matter-of-factly letting go of the visibly most important trans woman’s asset: good breasts. And on top of that quitting E … Also I was hanging out more with bois, trans men to be, trans guys who were not on hormones mostly because they didn’t feel really male. Somehow that rang a bell with me. And shortly after wen I joined the trans men-support group open for all [non-cis men] who were somehow exploring their masculinity) I started to jokingly identify as a “trans man born in the wrong body”. But no, I never really willingly identified as male. I guess I have been female, I surely identified as it for years (sort of, actually I identified more lesbian, after Monique Wittig).

After going off E, I have been for one or two years without any hormone supplication. I cannot advise you to follow that, it? bad for your health, you go through the nasty effects of the Change, become technically post-menopausal. It took me those effects to decide I needed something to replace the estrogens but I was not planning on returning to testosterone. I knew of something with a weak feminizing and a weak masculinizing effect. An androgynous friend of mine took that. i got it thought my endocrinologist and for some time I was happy with it. Post-surgery you need something after all. And those sweaty nights where each thought gave the effect that normally only fear has, together with loss of energy and power … I really needed to get rid of those. But after some time it wasn’t enough. The alternative was going for low dose Testosterone. Which I increased over the years to an average trans male dosage that is usually good, and sometimes too much or too little.

The one thousand euro question for many is: did I de-transition? Was I a regretter after all? Hanging out with mostly trans men … I violated the first amendment of trans women probably: letting go of femaleness. See a picture from around those days (cringe).

Fast forward to 2015. I can now say (proudly) that I have tried to be man (but ended up being a sissy), have been a woman and traveled on to being something completely different, beyond those two weird boxes the world ties to put me in. I sometimes ponder taking different forms of T, or more T. But then, I often just forget about it and observe I am not that much governed by those sex hormones. and if there is a message in all this, it might be: do what feels good, and try to find a doctor who wants you to be happy and healthy, more than following protocol. And no need for regret (although regret is part of life). Quitting can perfectly mean traveling on to hitherto unknown genders. Going where no one has gone before. Navigating the uncharted territories of trans*.

Now with Spanish translation, ahora en Español en http://www.vreer.net/i-quit-a-k-a-lo-confieso-renuncio/