Luce, you are one of the organizers of the annual Trans*tagung in Berlin. There is an inter*-Tagung as well and I was wondering how it would be to have a gay-tagung, a lesbian-tagung these days or a straight-tagung (if this isn’t the Bundestag) – tell me why do you think there is none of the latter or if there is a need for it?
You are right to pose this question, adressing the difficulties and differences among a diverse crowd which may be called “queer scene”. In the same moment, the question seems a bit weird as there is no proper distinction between those categories. It is not necessarily the case that you are either trans* or gay or inter* or lesbian or. Categories seem to cut through here. There’s room for a lot of different approaches and lived realities at the Trans*-tagung, depending on the workshops we get, responding to our call (extended until 31.08.2013). So if you read this send us stuff. In the same moment, your question also adresses the problem of “safe/r spaces”, community organizing and trans*-politics.
One overview of what trans*-politics could actually be is Dean Spades Video “Impossibility Now”. Please explain for us the specifics of the upcoming Trans*tagung in this broader context?
It’s true, trans*politics are part of broader political landscapes and movements. Spade explains the relationship between neoliberalism/ prison-industrial-compex/ homonationalism/ pink washing and trans*-politics. Important for him is the deconstitution of state power – to replace the penalty system, the police and other given transphobic institutions by collective care and strategies like “listening to each other” and “imagining another world together”. I am not saying that this is the definitive aim of this Trans*tagung – for we never talked about it. I think if trans*politics can achieve to strengthen trans* and queer communities in order to build some solidarity and bring people together so that they can imagine their lifes collectively, we may have won something.
This years motto is “Trans*, schön Fem(me)nistisch!”. How did you choose it and how is it connected to the discussions in the Berlin based scene? How is the strong critique of a group of queer people of color posted prominently around the transgenialer CSD reflected here?
Our conference reacts to fairly recent interventions and events. As the protest of (trans*)femmes at and in response to the last trans*tagung, which was conceived sort of femme*phobic. And a series of protests this year, adressing racism and white privilege in queer scenes, especially in Berlin. We tried to find a slogan that could intervene in current political debates, which I hope will be successful regarding femme*phobia and masculinism. We wanted a slogan which would be as non-exclusive as possible. This happens in reaction to interventions and protests by numerous people – for example the tcsd-intervention you already mentioned. The group adressed whiteness and racism in queer scenes, argueing among others that as long as “queer” is conceived of as meaning “white” doors are open to all kinds of racist behavior, including islamophobia.
Anyway, I strongly recommend to read the linked paper yourself. The organizing group is a white group and our efforts to reach out for now have not been too successful. There hopefully will be workshops for queer*&*trans*PoCs (you are invited to hand in whatever workshop you think is necessary) as well as an “open space” reserved for exactly this problem. But we shouldn’t forget that this is the 16th Trans*tagung in Berlin and 15 of them have almost exclusively been white, as the structures we are working in mostly are. We are trying to counteract this by inviting people to contribute and adressing the problem openly in our call and with a diverse program on our soliparty. These can only be first steps –
I like you’re focussing on (trans*-)femmes. Persons like me, who refuse to identify with any label, face discrimination in the gay-scene (“Why did you bring your daughter to this party?”) and in the lesbian-scene (“This party is for lesbians and friends only.”). How do you think about alliances between the gays, lesbians and the in-betweens with the trans*-movements?
As far as i can tell, there is no “trans*movement”. What exists is a number of activists who are mostly working passionately and on their limits. So if you want to get involved: get involved! It’s fun. “Trans*” is meant as an umbrella term without clarified content – there are a lot of people I know who really identify with neither of the legal sexes, trying to find a way to navigate personal, emotional, social and political questions by experimenting with different labels and names. There are also a lot of people identifying clearly as one sex or another. As far as I experience it, most trans*people are generally pretty open about different meanings and definitions. There’s no real gap between trans* and gay and lesbian and bi and polyamorous and asexual and queer and and and in terms of identity. In terms of political alliances organizations like Triq, Les Migras and Gladt are at the moment only occasionally working together; however, problems of transphobia, exotization and racism exist in these contexts, too. It’s probably most important at the given moment to learn to deal with privilege and *phobias, in order to lay grounds to talk to another, prevent harm and overcome pigeon-holing.
Let me google a good last interview question “What are you wishing for/ concerning the Trans*tagung”?
I’m really looking forward to the whole thing – join us for the soli-party 20th of september at Marie Antoinette (and check their facebook-page for updates). Also, i hope the work with the group as it has been up to now will continue as it is throughout the following intense months – we’re having a lot of fun planing this thing. We expect about 300 – 350 people attending the Transtagung from all over the place, which is always very exciting – you for example. Submit a workshop, join us for the soli-party, get involved.