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The text that was read aloud at the GPP meeting in Bethanien, November 28, 2010
Trans*phobia is a discriminatory and non-acknowledging attitude toward trans*people. The central point is the non-acknowledgment that each person should be free to define their own gender and everything that it involves. Self-definition is – as the term suggests – not up for negotiation.
There are different kinds of trans*phobia that manifest themselves in different areas of life: Structural (e.g. verbal), institutional discrimination by way of institutions), and personal trans*phobia that becomes apparent in personal interactions with other people. It is the latter kind that we wish to address here.
A preliminary remark: We all make mistakes, and that’s okay. What is not okay, however, is the refusal to deal with one’s own mistakes.
Trans*phobia does not only manifest itself through physical assault or scuffle; we encounter it ever so subtly in our everyday lives:
Trans*phobia may for instance surface in the non-consensual outing of a trans*person. While some people are very open about their being trans*, others prefer to live un-outed, or they out themselves depending on the situation. The most important thing is: Only the trans*person themselves can decide whether they wish to be out in a certain context or not. This is a matter of informational autonomy that we should all be able to take for granted. And even if the person sitting next to you / in your communal house / in a group is out, that doesn’t mean they have to be (or want to) in all contexts. Consequently: It’s better to ask when you’re one-on-one than simply out that person.
The majority of western societies recognise no more than two sexes. People are assigned at birth either a male or female sex. Some infants receive operations to order their bodies within the two-sex system. If someone wants to live in a different sex to the one assigned to them and receive medical or psychological support, then they must convince the supposed „experts“ that they suffer from a so-called „Gender Identity Disorder“. „Gender Identity Disorders“ have been listed as psychological illnesses in the World Health Organisation’s catalogue of diseases since the 1980’s. Transgender people have been through this classification pathologised and psychiatrised. In order to change the one’s civil status, that is, to change the sex in the births register and on the birth certificate, the Transsexual Act states that the applicant must be sterilised.
I was arrested early 2010 in Berlin, as I was walking home from a party with friends. I‘ll skip the details as the case is still before the court, but some background info might help to position this story a bit better – I am a white young(ish) transgender woman with a west european passport.
I was attacked by several cops and handcuffed, then thrown into the back of a police truck. Immediately I was asked if I was a male or a female. I replied that I was a woman and a female cop proceeded to go through my pockets. I was sitting with my hands handcuffed behind my back, so they really couldn‘t search me beyond my front pockets and my belt-bag.
They removed my passport from my bag and they all were amazed to see the big fat M right next to Sex. Everyone stared at me. I was questioned again by two female cops if I was a woman. Of course, I answered, but what was in my pants? The sex on my passport seemed pretty unimportant to them, everything revolved around whether I had a ‚penis‘ or a ‚vagina‘. It didn‘t matter if I was a woman psychologically, but if I was „reconstructed“ (‚umgebaut‘, like a house or car). I refused to answer their stupid questions and after a short time of arguing, two female cops gave up and searched me. Shortest search ever.