… or everything you want. A zine about trans and gender (not only) for young people

28 pages

Download the zine as pdf


Content

Introduction
Who is this zine for?
What does the underscore mean?
What does trans mean?
What does cis mean?
Only you can define your gender – not your genitals!
What does inter mean?
You are what you feel
What are non-binary identities?
Gender identity and sexuality
A-Sexuality
Sexism and the Patriarchy
What is hetero-normativity?
Trans is not an illness!
What are gender reassignment procedures?
The norm is the problem – not your body!
How to talk to your parents and friends
How can you support trans people?
Where can I get professional help and support?
Glossary

Introduction

We had the idea for this zine when we heard of a young trans person who didn‘t dare to speak to their parents about being trans. We wanted to give this person some material that would explain the topic in an easily accessible way and that wouldn‘t reproduce stereotypical ideas of trans people. Unfortunately we noticed that there wasn‘t any material like that available. The only possible solution for this problem was: do it yourself! 
That is how this zine that you‘re holding in your hands came into being. We are trying to answer the various questions regarding the subject of (being) trans. We are trying our best to write in an understandable way. In the end of the zine there’s a glossary about words that might not be known to everyone.

Who is this zine for?

You can read this zine if you know that you don‘t want to live as a boy or a girl. Or if you‘re not sure if you want to be a boy or a girl. You can also read this zine if you‘re getting harassed at school or if you don‘t dress the way others want you to. Or if you feel that you would like to be called by another name, but you don‘t dare to tell your parents. You can also read this zine if you suspect that a person that you know (e.g. your child, a friend, a parent…) doesn‘t want to live in the gender that they are expected to. Or if you‘re just interested in finding out what trans means and why there’s a star attached to it. This zine is meant for all people who want to know about trans and everything connected to it.

What does the underscore mean?

In the german version of this zine you might find words with an underscore (_). It is not often used in english, since most english words aren‘t gendered like in german. But we might use it in english as well sometimes. For instance if we want to talk about people of all genders we could use a pronoun like s_he. This means that the person in question might be a girl, a boy, both or neither. The underscore or »gender-gap« represents people who don‘t fit into the binary idea of ›male‹ and ›female‹.

And now …
…we hope you will enjoy reading this zine. If you have any questions, criticism or comments, please contact us at:
transgenialefantifa@riseup.net

What does trans mean?

Some people notice at some point that they don‘t want to live in the gender that they are expected to live in. For instance if a child who lived as a girl rather wants to be a boy. Or if a boy rather wears dresses and wants to be a girl. People who are expected to live as women, but feel that they are men are called trans men. Trans women are people who are expected to live as men, but feel that they are women. The word trans is used to describe different people who don‘t want to live in the gender that they are expected to live in.

What does cis mean?

Cis is the opposite of trans. It means that a person wants to live in the gender that they are expected to live in. If a person is expected to live as a man and wants to live as a man, he is called a cis man. And if a person who is expected to live as a woman and wants to live as a woman, she is called a cis woman. We use these words to describe people who have the gender they are expected to have in order for them not to be considered normal and to avoid describing trans people as something strange. Most people might be cis, but that doesn‘t mean that it is ›normal‹ to be cis.

Only you can define your gender – not your genitals!

Many people understand gender as something that can be defined by the genitals. Babies with a penis are classified as boys and babies with a vulva as girls. This is very problematic on many levels. It is assumed that all penises and vulvae look the same and are constructed as fixed categories. It is also problematic that the gender is defined by doctors, often even before the birth. In this way people are deprived their right to define their own gender (identity). Only you can define your gender. It doesn‘t matter what genitals you have or how they look.

What does inter mean?

People who’s sexual characteristics (for instance genitals) are not distinctly ›male‹ or ›female‹ are called inter-sex or inter. Unfortunately their genitals are often operated on in order to make them fit in the binary categories ›male‹ and ›female‹. Inter persons who have experienced these kind of operations often describe them as mutilation and/or violence. Some of them suffer their whole life from the consequences of the operations. We think that inter persons should have the right to choose their own gender, just like everyone else. They should be able to decide for themselves if and how they want their bodies to be modified by operations or other procedures.

You are what you feel

No one besides yourself can define who or what you are. Neither doctors, parents, nor other people. Only you can decide what gender identity is the right one for you. You also choose your own name and preferred pronoun. No one may pressure you in this matter, neither your parents, nor your friends, or anyone else. Others must accept your self-definition. Because you are the one who knows what’s best for you and what feels right. There are no wrong feelings. If for instance everyone thinks you‘re a girl even though you feel you‘re a boy, then you ARE a boy. Or if you feel you‘re neither man or woman, then you ARE neither of those. You are what you feel.

What are non-binary identities?

Some people don‘t feel like they belong to any of the two set gender-categories ›female‹ and ›male‹. They can define themselves as something in between or as both. Some people feel they don‘t belong to any gender. They are not a girl, not a woman, not a boy, not a man. A word for this gender identity is a-gender. That means no-gender. It can be very difficult to live as a non-binary person in our society. Non-binary identities are almost never spoken of and there are very few or no role-models represented in the media or in our everyday lives (among friends, in school, …). It is nevertheless possible to define oneself as something else as woman or man. Only you can define your identity. You are what you feel. Other words to describe non-binary identified people are: gender-queer, neutrois and gender-fluid. There is also a variety of non-binary pronouns. The singular »they« being one of the most common in the english language. Other are for instance: zie/zir, xe/xyr, ze/hir and many more. You can also invent your own pronoun.

Gender identity and sexuality

Your gender identity is not linked to who you like, fall in love with or desire. No matter if you define yourself as a woman, a man, or non-binary, you can fall in love with and be attracted to women, men, and non-binary identified people. Only you can decide about that. If you‘re for instance a trans girl, it doesn‘t mean you automatically like men. There are many lesbian trans women and also gay trans men. It is a hetero-normative idea that people are always, by default, attracted to the “opposite sex”. It is very important to challenge this idea.

A-Sexuality

Some people are not attracted to other people, they have no desire for sexual contact with others. This is called a-sexuality. It doesn‘t mean a-sexual people can‘t fall in love. A-sexual people can be lesbian, gay, bi, pan or hetero(-romantic). They can have relationships and feel intimacy and closeness with others. To be a-sexual can be hard in this society, because everyone is expected to have sexual desires. It is also often described as ›natural‹ or ›normal‹ to want sex. Because of this a-sexuals are often assumed to have had traumatic experiences regarding sex (e.g. suffered from sexual violence or abuse). To make these kind of assumptions is to deny that there are people who are not interested in sex and that it is totally alright with them. A-sexuality is a valid sexual orientation like all others and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sexism and the Patriarchy

Women and men are considered to be legally equal in this society. But actually they are not equal. Men have mostly more advantages that women. They often work in higher positions (as managers, supervisors, etc.). Women on the other hand earn less for doing the same work as men. They often work temporary and low-paying jobs. That is why women are more often afflicted by poverty. A society where men have more advantages and privileges than women is called patriarchy.

Patriarchy also means that attributes like intelligence, objectivity and reason are considered to be masculine, while feelings, subjectivity and irrationality is associated with femininity. This is why what men have got to say is often seen as more important, their opinions are taken seriously. Women on the other hand have more difficulties to let their voices be heard in public. Their opinions are automatically seen as less important. Only few are aware of this.

Violence committed by cis-men is unfortunately a part of patriarchy. This means that mental, emotional and physical violence and abuse is committed by cis-men against women, lesbian, gay, inter and trans people. Cis-male violence affects all that are not heterosexual cis-men. This is called sexism.

Sexism can take very varied forms. It is sexism when women are being told that they‘re not allow to have hairy legs. It is sexism when trans people are insulted, beaten, and ridiculed because they‘re not cis. It is sexism when people claim that same-sex love is wrong. It is sexism when a woman is harassed on the street just because she’s a woman. It is sexism when people are afraid to change their name and pronouns because everyone is against it. In patriarchy sexism is present in all aspects of society, for instance in advertisement, in movies, music, and in school books.

It is very important to be brave and to show solidarity when you witness sexist discrimination against someone. To interfere in such a situation means not to leave the person alone and to fight back together.

In german the abbreviation FLIT is often used. This stands for Women (Frauen), Lesbians, Inter and Trans People. This abbreviation stands for a group of people who experience sexism and cis-male violence.

What is hetero-normativity?

Many people assume that women are always attracted to men and men are always attracted to women. This assumption is called hetero-normativity. It excludes all other possibilities of sexual orientation (for instance gay, lesbian, bi). If non-hetero attraction is perceived as ›wrong‹, it may have very bad consequences. It is the reason why non-heteros often experience discrimination and violence.

Trans is not an illness!

When you try to find information about trans (online for instance), you will eventually come across terms like »transsexualism«, »gender identity disorder«, »trans-sexual(ity)«, and »gender dysphoria«. All these terms originate from psychiatry and define being trans as an ›illness‹ and a ›mental disorder›. When the behavior of people is seen as ›abnormal‹ and ›sick‹, it is called pathologization. We vehemently reject all pathologizations. Trans is not an illness that has to be ›cured‹. Some people say that if trans is no longer classified as an ›disorder‹, the health insurance would not cover necessary procedures like hormones and operations. We think new possibilities have to be created so that trans people can have access to these procedures without being labelled as ›sick‹.

What are gender reassignment procedures?

Many trans people wish to change their bodies. Generally all changes in this matter are called gender reassignment procedures.

One possibility to change one’s body is hormone therapy. When trans men take testosterone their voices might get deeper and they might get a beard and more body hair. many trans men also wish to get their breasts removed. Trans women can on the other hand grow breasts when taking hormones (oestrogen). Because the hormones don‘t stop the beard from growing, they might need a special hair-removing procedure to remove facial hair permanently.

The point of gender reassignment surgeries is that people can get the genitals that they want. A trans woman can get her penis removed and a vagina formed. A trans man can get a penis that is formed out of his own skin (harvested from his arm for instance).

When a trans person is feeling bad about their bodies, gender reassignment procedures can be very important in order for them to feel that they have the right body. But that doesn‘t mean that all trans people dislike their bodies and want to change them. It doesn‘t meant that you have to go through all procedures in order to change something. There are for instance trans men who get their breasts removed but don‘t want so-called »bottom-surgery« (a phalloplasty).

Even non-binary people can wish to change their bodies. If you want to change your body permanently it is a decision that you should take very seriously. Try to get as much information as you can about the procedures and their risks. Take your time to figure out what you really want.

The health insurance companies in germany are bound by law to pay for gender reassignment procedures. But unfortunately it is often a long and tedious struggle to get the health insurance companies to cover the costs. To be able to get hormone therapy you have to undergo psycho-therapy in germany (and many other countries as well). This means if you need to take hormones you have to regularly visit a psychologist. This can be annoying, but it might help you with dealing with the situation. We have heard of nice psychologist who can certify that you‘re undergoing therapy even if you‘re not in order to get the hormones faster. Of course this all depends on the psychologist.

For gender reassignment surgeries you need to get expert assessment from two individual health care professionals (often Psychiatrists) in germany. They have to sign off that you want to permanently live in the ›other‹ gender. Most of these health care professionals have a binary understanding of gender. That means that they assume that there are only women and men. Their opinion about how a trans person should look and act like are unfortunately quite limited. They often subscribe to the stereotypical idea of a trans person, who already in childhood feels that they‘re in ›the wrong body‹ and acts accordingly. That this stereotypical picture doesn‘t represent most trans people is not widely known or acknowledged. If you want to undergo gender reassignment surgery (in germany) but don‘t fit into the trans-clichéd picture, you might need to adjust the truth and tell the health care professionals what they want to hear.

The norm is the problem – not your body!

Just because there are transpeople who want to change their bodies, it doesn‘t mean that you have to change yours in order to be trans. There are many trans people who love their bodies the way they are. Not wanting to change your body is perfectly ok. Because being trans is mainly about identity, not about the body. Don‘t let anyone tell you that your body is “wrong”. When most people don‘t want to understand that some women have penises or some men breasts, it is their problem! Whether with our without penis, whether with or without breasts, whether with or without beard, whether you‘re fat or skinny, whether you‘re short or tall, it doesn‘t matter – your body is fantastic!

How to talk to your parents and friends

If you don‘t dare to talk to people about you (maybe) being trans, you can give them this zine instead. That way they‘ll get a general idea about the subject and might be less scared to talk about it. Maybe even you are scared. Perhaps you‘re afraid that your parents might not love you anymore if you tell them that you don‘t want to live in the gender that you are supposed to. Please remember that your parents (and other people) love you as a person and not as a boy or a girl. You can try to explain to them that you can‘t be the person that you are by living the wrong (for you) gender. If you don‘t dare to speak about all this alone, you can always get some support, for instance from a friend or from a support centre.

How can you support trans people?

If a person tells you that they are trans or that they are questioning whether they might be, there are some things you should consider. This big and brave decision to confide in you means that the person trusts you deeply. Take this as a compliment. Here are some things that we find important in this situation:

• Take the person, their thoughts and feelings seriously.
• Listen to them attentively.
• Don‘t pressure them in any way.
• Respect the self-definition of the person.
• Use the (new) name consistently.
• Use the preferred pronouns.
• Don‘t assume that being trans ›is just a phase‹.
• Try to help and support the person as much as you can.

When a child in your care confides in you that they‘re trans, please consider the following: Try to understand that they are not rebelling against you by choosing a new name over the old one that you might have given them. A new name is an important step in the process of transitioning. Also try to see that you are not losing a daughter or a son, on the contrary: you are gaining the trust of the person that is your child when you support them on this path.

Where can I get professional help and support?

There are different support and advice centers in Berlin that provide counselling regarding trans issues. Some of them also provide it in english. They can help you if you have a hard time talking to your parents and friends or if you have questions regarding hormones, therapy and operations. Also relatives and friends of trans people can seek help from these places. Most of the counseling is provided in person or per e-mail or telephone. Often the counsellors are themselves trans or inter, so they are experts in the field. Nevertheless you should even here trust in yourself and not let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn‘t be or do. Some counsellors might have a clichéd understanding of what trans is and think that there are only two genders. Here are some addresses in Berlin.

ABqueer
Sanderstraße 15, 12047 Berlin
Telephone: 030 – 922 508 44
E-Mail: info@abqueer.de
Internet: www.abqueer.de

Lambda
Manteuffelstraße 19, 10997 Berlin
Telephone: 030 – 282 79 90
E-Mail: info@lambda-bb.de
Internet: www.lambda-bb.de

LesMigraS (Lesbian/bisexual Migrants, Black Lesbians and Trans People)
Kulmer Str. 20a, 10783 Berlin
Telephone: 030 – 219 150 90
E-Mail: info@lesmigras.de
Internet: www.lesmigras.de

TransInterQueer (TRIQ)
Glogauerstraße 19
10999 Berlin
Telephone: 030 – 616 752 916
E-Mail: triq@transinterqueer.org
Internet: www.transinterqueer.org

Glossary

Here you can find the explanation to words that might be difficult.

A-gender
People who don‘t (want to) have a gender. Another word for this is neutrois.

A-sexual
People who don‘t experience attraction or desire towards other people.

Bi
People who fall in love with men and women and/or want to have sex and/or relationships with them.

Cis
People who live in the gender they are expected to live in (as a ›man‹ or ›woman‹).

Cis-man
A person who is expected to live as a man and wants to.

Cis-woman
A person who is expected to live as a woman and wants to.

Cis-sexism
Discrimination of trans people. Another word for this is trans hate.

FLIT
German abbreviation of women_lesbians_inter_trans

Gay
Men who fall in love with men and/or want to have sex and/or relationships with them.

Gender binary
The assumption that there are only two genders (›female‹ or ›male‹)

Gender-fluid
People who don‘t want to settle for one gender.

Gender-Queer
An umbrella term for tans people, a-gender, third gender, and gender-fluid people.

Gender reassignment procedures
An umbrella term for medical procedures that change the body of a person to better match their gender (for instance hormone therapy, hair-removal, gender reassignment surgeries).

Gender reassignment surgeries
Umbrella-term for surgical procedures that change the body of a person to better match their gender (for instance vaginoplasty, hysterectomy, mastectomy, phalloplasty).

Hetero
Men who fall in love with women and/or want to have sex and/or relation-ships with them. Women who all in love with men and/or want to have sex and/or relationships with them.

Hetero-normativity
The assumption that women always desire men and men always desire women.

Hetero-sexism
The discrimination of people who are bi, lesbian, pan, or gay (not-hetero).

Hormone therapy
Taking hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) in order to change the body of a person to better match their gender.

Inter
An umbrella term for people who’s sexual characteristics (for instance genitals) are not distinctly ›male‹ or ›female‹.

Lesbian
Women who fall in love with women and/or want to have sex and/or relationships with them.

Neutrois
People who don‘t (want to) have a gender. Another word for this is a-gender.

Non-binary
People who are neither men or women.

Pan
People who fall in love with people and/or want to have sex and/or relationships with them, no matter what gender they have.

Pathologization
When the behavior of people is seen as ›abnormal‹ and described as ›sick‹.

Queer
An umbrella term for all people who are a-sexual, bi, gay, inter, lesbian, pan, or trans.

Sexual
People who experience sexual desire.

Third gender
People who are neither men nor women, or both.

Trans
An umbrella term for a-gender, gender-fluid, gender-queer, neutrois, third gender, trans women and trans men.

Trans man
A person who is expected to live as a woman, but is a man.

Trans woman
A person who is expected to live as a man, but is a woman.