This text is an alternative version of my speech for the presentation of the Amsterdam expo of Serious Game, a transgender sound and photo exhibition at the Melkweg Gallery. If you can: check it out before the 14th of February, for then it will travel back to Germany.
Dear trans people .. and others
On behalf of the organising Transgender Network Netherlands and on behalf of the project group that this exhibition accompanies: a warm welcome to you all.
We are very proud and very happy to have this exibtion here in the Melkweg photo gallery. We want to thank the curator Suzanne Dechert for her interest in queer themes and her willingness to host the Serious Game exhibition.
This is not just a reception, an opening. The exhibition is already open for a week now. This is a presentation. An act of of trans* visibility. Both the photos and the sound as well as the attendants are trans* – in one way or another. That means everyone here in this room – also those of you who do not directly identify themselves as such – is trans*. In a play on the old lesbian adage: “everyone is trans except they who do not yet know”. This means that nothwithstanding if you can tell by their looks or voice, if they have told you or not, everyone is a gender transgressor in their very own way. Also you yourself. “Trannies or ‘gennies’: can you tell the difference?“ And does it matter? Gennies, genetically ‘normal’ people, an old word for the cis* people, cisgendered, not transgendered people.
Please at least for now imagine yourself to be trans* if you haven’t before. Imagine yourself to be cross dresser, a gender child if you are under age, a between of beyond gender person. then you would need to explain a lot of times that you may be ’different’ but not theat different, still human. And maybe you are thát different. Does that mean your employer, the bank, your school are allowed to treat you differently, less than if you would belong to the standard group of this society: straight white men and women?
As you are, we are also not just white, we are also Surinamese, Moroccan, Turkish. We are gay, we are straight. Racism and sexism touches us also.
In this project, called And Others, after the opening words of the second transgender council in Berlin May 2008: “Ladies, gentlemen and others”, we develop ways to argument for the inclusion of trans* in both civil rights and in economic, social and cultural rights politics.
There are huge differences between countries regarding the legal position of trans*. Frontunners are now in the middle, once retarded countries are now on the vanguard. An Umwertung aller Werte. If only.
During the weekends we are together, we search for arguments that tell that we have the same rights and need specific attention because of the backward situation we live in collectively. Our rights are not yet consolidated not even on a formal level, as is the case with ethnic and sexual minorities.
Since Europe is growing grey soon and Europeans seem not very eager to travel inside of Europe, the Grundtvig institute or lifelong learning facilitates projects in which people from different national and cultural contexts get to know each other and learn to work together in cross-cultural contact. In this case it helps to begin to develop strategies for trans inclusion. If we succeed, if the Transgender Network Netherlands succeeds, if the European trans movement succeeds, then equality is near and we helped create it. And a better world is on the verge of happening.
To make this happen politicians and civil society need to know who we are. Policy makers need to know who they work for, who benefits from their work. This exhibition shows us in all our diversity. It shows you cannot always tell how to place someone in the gender continuum. It shows through the accompanying photos by Daphne Horn in genderfreedom! how colourful and diverse we are.
Look at the photos, talk to your fellow trannies. Do not be afraid if they out themselves to you as non trans. It happens. Not everyone has the luck they can experience the trans life.
Listen to the audio fragments upstairs, listen to the people you meet. Get to know each other. That way a better world already comes to life.