In Austria transgender* realities are largely being hidden. You hear little to nothing about this topic in the media. That’s why I was very happy to talk to Nathan Cha, a non-binary interdisciplinary artist. The interview can be found below, following this introduction. It is split into two parts: In the first part we talk about basic transgender* knowledge and in the second part Nathan points out how cisgender people could be advocates for trans* people.
Anthropology deals a lot with differences and with what separates people. I think Anthropologists should use their knowledge to reveal these differences in order to understand, acknowledge and overcome them and thus create a world that is “safe for human differences” to quote the famous Anthropologist Ruth Benedict.
Ideas about gender are still characterized by thinking in dichotomies, which means by rigid classifications of “man” and “woman”. These two categories are very different and continue to influence the way gender and gender roles are thought of.
The aspect that for many people the ready-made categories “man” and “woman” are not sufficient to describe themselves is a fact that is often forgotten in mainstream discourse. This lack of knowledge about the “in between” leads to a lack of awareness of various gender realities.
When trans* identities are made visible we gain new perspectives. We have to point out Western heteronormativity and at the same time question the two-gender-system and thus allow society to look beyond its own social and cultural horizons. Among other things, anthropologists can help promote political recognition of gender pluralism.
Cisgender people will never understand how it is to be trans*, but we can do things to make them feel more secure and valued in society in general, in public places and elsewhere.
Increasing tensions in the global political situation make it all the more necessary to be advocates for minorities and to show support and fight against trans-hostile and anti-human policies in general. Unfortunetaly this is a trend which can be seen worlwide – just think of Bolsonaro in Brazil, the far right-wing government in Austria or Trump in the US.
Though it is the year of 2018, trans * people are still threatened by violence and hatred. On November 20th, the International Trans Day of Remembrance, commemorates trans * persons who are being murdered because of hatred. On the website of the “Transgender Europe” initiated project “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” you can find a map of the world showing the murders of transgender persons between 2008 and 2016 (see Transgender Europe, November 2018).
Issues that affect marginalized groups are often tackled by people who are part of that group themselves. A marginalized group, such as the trans * community, needs allies from the majority society, perhaps also from more privileged positions that support them in their political, social and economic concerns and in the enforcement of their human rights.
Now it is time to decide in what kind of society, we want to live.
Do we want to be filled with hatred and indifference for people who are different from us? Or do we want to listen, understand and make a difference through our actions?
Let’s create awareness and actively support trans* people and other minorities both in what we say and what we do.
Nathan Cha! Thank you, Nate, you are a true inspiration.
Find his work on:
Further I want to give thanks to wonderful Caroline Hoffmann for operating the camera and editing the video.
So, here it is: