Intervju sa Aleksom Milanovićem, aktivistom Trans Mreže Balkan

U okviru projekta If your future is not mine umetnica Nina Galić izložila je publikaciju u kojoj su predstavljeni izabrani intervjua iz serije susreta u potrazi za novim revolucionarnim subjektom. Jedan od razgovora je sa Aleksom Milanovićem, aktivistom Trans Mreže Balkan. Intervjui su bili deo izložbe Romanze mit der Revolution održane u ACC Galeriji u Weimaru od 17.05. do 05.08.2018. godine.

  – English version below –


Razgovor sa Aleksom Milanovićem, aktivistom Trans Mreže Balkan, piscem i teoretičarom umetnosti i medija, istraživački usmerenim na pitanje tela, pola i roda.

NG: Trans Mreža Balkan predstavlja povezanu platformu BiH, Crne Gore, Hrvatske i Srbije sa koje pružate podršku, edukaciju i dajete sve potrene informacije osobama svih rodnih identiteta, izražavanja i polnih karakteristika. Recite nam više o aktivnostima TMB i povezivanju u regionu u cilju ojačavanja trans zajednice?

AM: Trans mreža Balkan se u međuvremenu proširila i na Sloveniju, Albaniju, Makedoniju i Kosovo, sve ide lagano i trenutno pokušavamo da izgradimo kapacitete, da se više ljudi uključi.Naravno jako je teško u sredinama u kojima nije razvijen trans aktivizam da se pokrenu ljudi. Jedan od ciljeva mreže jeste osnaživanje lokalnih organizacija i lokalnih grupa, koje bi osnivale svoje organizacije. U Beogradu od 2006. postoji  trans grupa samopodrške koja funkcioniše u okviru organizacije Gayten-LGBT. Grupa samopodrške okuplja trans i rodnovarijantne osobe koje dele iskustva međusobno. Kasnije van toga se ljudi upoznaju, formiraju neke neformalne grupe, ali to su manje grupe ljudi koje su zainteresovane da nešto rade i jedan od ciljeva naše mreže jeste da takvim ljudima pomogne,ukoliko žele da naprave svoju organizaciju ili da realizuju neke svoje ideje, naš cilj je da ih osnažimo, da im pomognemo da te svoje projekte realizuju. Da li je to osnivanje nekog NGO-a, osnivanje grupe građana, da li je to samo neki manji projekat, recimo humanitarna izložba kojom ćemo da pomognemo nekome da skupi novac za neku od operacija ili za život. Ja sam član Trans Mreže Balkan, pa sam kao predstavnik mreže na Fijuku organizovao izložbu, da nisam njihov član, ja bih mogao da im se obratim da mi pomognu kao i bilo ko drugi ko želi da sa nekom svojom lokalnom grupicom prijavi taj štand. Da me upute kako, šta, gde, i svojim savetima i svojim sredstvima, iako mi nemamo velika sredstva, ali bismo mogli da doprinesemo da kontaktiraju ljude sa svog portala, sa društvenih mreža, jer ja kao pojedinac ne bih mogao toliko ljudi da okupim da izlažu, ali oni kao grupa mogu da pošalju informaciju, to je jedna od uloga mreže u regionu.

Kao najvažnije aktivnosti mreže ja bih izdvojio internet portal na kome trans i rodno varijantne osobe mogu da nađu informacije vezane, za pravni okvir i zakone po državama, informacije vezane za zdravstvo ili za neke druge aktivnosti koje se dešavaju a koje su vezane za trans problematiku. Portal nam je prva veća aktivnost, na koju se nižu neke druge aktivnosti, ali nam je važno da se taj portal gradi. On će se još proširivati, imamo u planu nove sekcije. Jako je korisno što to postoji, jer tako se šire informacije. Jedna od većih aktivnosti je i Transpozij,  koji organizuje TMB u saradnji sa drugim organizacijama. Nastao je na inicijativu oragnizacije Trans Aid iz Zagreba 2014. godine i tada su održana dva Transpozija, u proleće i u jesen, oba su organizovana u Zagrebu u organizaciji Trans Aida i Ženske sobe, to su organizacije iz Hrvatske. Trans Aid je prepustio Transpozij Trans Mreži, jer je logičnije da jedna organizacija koja je platfoma, oragnizuje takav jedan događaj čija je ideja okupljanje trans osoba iz regiona a i šire. Onda su 2016. godine zajedno TMB i Trans Aid organizovali treći Transpozij, a 2017. godine je TMB u saradnji sa Trans Aidom i tadašnjim Transovcima, a danas Spektrom, organizacijom iz Crne Gore, organizovala četvrti Transpozij u Podgorici. Iduće godine organizujemo peti po redu, biće održan u Hrvatskoj u saradnji Trans Aidom. Nadamo se i radimo na tome da će neki od narednih biti u Beogradu.

Transpozij je simpozijum koji sadrži seminare vezane za edukaciju, samopodršku, uključuje različite tipove radionica, koje se održavaju za trans i rodnovarijantne osobe kao i za ljude koji žele da podrže trans osobe, naravno pored bude organizovana i  žurka, druženje, izložba, verovatno će biti izloženi radovi koji su bili izloženi na Fijuku. Ideja je da se okupe trans osobe iz regiona da se upoznaju, razmenjuju ideje i da učimo jedni od drugih. Transpozij je godišnji skup na kome mi razmenimo neke ideje, informacije, planove, kada smo svi na okupu tada bude puno entuzijazma, vise nego kada su ljudi izolovani i sami. Mi jesmo povezani preko društvenih mreža, ali kada se vidimo uživo veće su šanse da se nešto realizuje. Dobrodošli su svi. Mi skupljamo i sredstva za ljude koje nemaju finansijske mogućnosti da dođu tj. da plate put, smeštaj itd.

Verovatno će sa godinama da se menja krakter toga. Ja bih voleo da se izlože neki radovi, ne samo umetnički, već i teorijski, to može da se širi, naravno uvek su problem finansije, naći mesto, prostor, platiti ljudima da dođu. Cilj je uvek da se pozovu i drugi ljudi koji nisu u aktivizmu i koji nisu u mogućnosti inače da se sretnu. U Beogradu postoji Trans grupa, u manjim gradovima u Srbiji ne postoji, ljudi naravno nemaju finansija da dođu ovde jednom mesečno ili jednom u par meseci da prisustvuju sastancima Trans grupe, nemaju sredstava za to, a Transpozij bi omogućio ljudima koji nisu iz većih regionalnih centara, kao što su Beograd, Zagreb, Sarajevo, da dođu i upoznaju zajednicu. Da razmenimo iskustva ne samo aktivističkog karaktera, u smislu kako rešavamo neke pravne probleme ili probleme u zdravstvu, nego i lična iskustva, kako se ko bori  sa svojim svakodnevnim problemima.

Dok nisam upoznao druge trans osobe mnogo teže sam se borio sa sopstvenim svakodnevnim problemima sa kojima se susrećem kao trans osoba, kada sam upoznao trans ljude, pomislio sam – ako može ta osoba da živi taj identitet, zašto ne mogu ja! Mi nemamo rol modele dostupne u medijima, sada ih čak i ima po malo, ranije ih nije bilo uopšte. Potrebno je više ljudi koji su spremni javno da govore o toj problematici na jedan pozitivan način. Naravno to je jako teško ostvariti jer je veoma mali broj osoba spreman na takav rizik. Pojačavanje vidljivosti je jedan od glavnih aktivističkih ciljeva koje mi imamo. Neznanje nam je najveći neprijatelj i veliki je generator transfobije. Pa ipak teško je izaći u javnost sa tim, autovati se javno, to iscrpljuje emotivno i zaista je riskantno.

Još jedna od važnih aktivnosti koje spovodimo je istraživanje o zdravstvu, a koje će biti dostupno na pet jezika. Pravimo aplikaciju koju će popunjavati trans i rodnovarijantne osobe koje imaju dodira sa zdravstvenim sistemom, svako u svojoj državi. Pošto je zdravstvo jedan veliki problem sa kojima se susreću trans osobe. Biće na BHSCG jezicima (bosanski, hrvatski, srpski, crnogorski), engleskom jeziku, slovenačkom, makedonskom i albanskom jeziku.

 

NG: Koji su državni mehanizmi u proizvodnji diskriminatorskih politika prema trans osobama u Srbiji?

AM: Pored opšte kulturalne diskriminacije i institucionalna diskriminacija je izuzetno jaka u Srbiji i svim državam u regionu. Prvo bih izdvojio pravne i zdravstvene institucije, a zatim obrazovne i religijske institucije.

Zahvaljujući pravnim problemima sa kojima se susreću trans osobe u Srbiji automatski su im ugrožena i druga prava: pravo na rad i zapošljavenje, pravo na zdravstvenu zaštitu, pravo na obrazovanje itd. Navešću klasični primer: svaka osoba trans ili cis kada ustane ujutru prvo bira garderobu koju će da obuče, gardaroba je orodnjena. Jedna trans žena u Srbiji ako nije prošla tranziciju ili rekonstrukciju pola, ona nije u mogućnosti da obuče ono što želi, ne može da obuče haljinu i da izađe na ulicu, jer je izložena riziku od napada. Ona treba da ode u lokalnu radnju, treba da plati račune, mogu da zamislim sa čime bi se susrela da se obuče onako kako sredina ne odobrava. Ja iz svog ličnog primera mogu da kažem da sam doživeo dosta puta diskriminaciju na javnim mestima kao što su prodavnice ili državne ustanove. Prvo čim ustanem, sa čime se suočavam jeste šta ću da obučem, a onda srećom tamo gde ja radim ne postoji dres kod koji bi mene ugrožavao, ali kada bih radio u banci gde bi se od mene zahtevalo da nosim suknju na osnovu oznake pola u mojoj ličnoj karti, ja bih bio u velikom problemu, zapravo ne bih mogao da radim u takvoj instituciji, time je automatski moj izbor poslova ograničen ukoliko želim da sačuvam mentalno zdravlje i svoj integritet. Ne mogu da radim neki posao na kome se od žena zahteva da poštuju određeni dres kod, koji podrazumeva tu takozvanu „žensku garderobu“. A to je samo jedna od prepreka.

Nakon toga odemo na posao,  u školu, i tamo se opet susrećemo sa diskriminacijom. Vršnjačko nasilje u Srbiji je veliki problem, ja mogu da zamislim sa čime se sureću trans osobe u srednjoj školi, u većini škola sigurno ne smeju da se autuju. U moje vreme za to nije bilo nikakve šanse. Istraživanja su pokazala da su srednjoškolci izuzetno homofobični, oni verovatno ne razlikuju transfobiju od homofobije, ali mislim da je stepen transfobije veoma visok. Ukoliko trans osobe u srednjoj školi dožive nasilje, kome one mogu da se obrate? Ako se obrate roditeljima to je još jedan problem, zato što trans osobe doživljavaju nasilje i u porodici, ne mora to da bude samo fizičko nasilje, može biti i psihološko ili ekonomsko. To je jedna velika razlika u odnosu na druge diskriminisane grupe kao što su rasne manjine ili verske manjine, razlika je u tome što trans osobe nemaju ni kod kuće zaštitu. Oni ne odu kući i ne dobiju odobravanje i podršku svojih roditelja, u najvećem broju slučajeva oni odu kući i ponovo dožive diskriminaciju. Čak ne smeju ni da se žale na ono što im se dešava u školi ili na poslu,  krug porodice nije neka sredina koja će blagonaklono da gleda na taj problem. Najpre diskriminaciju vrši obrazovna institucija koja deluje svojim mehanizmima, a drugo tu su i ljudi koji rade kao osoblje koje je needukovano i transfobično. Takođe i prijatelji, veliki broj LGBT osoba izgubi veliki broj prijatelja nakon autovanja, tu nije samo reč o tome da – neko ne želi da se druži sa tobom zato što si ti trans osoba, već ne želi da se druži sa trans osobom da ga drugi ne bi targetirali kao trans osobu, lezbejku ili homoseksulaca.

Kada je reč o zdravstvu i zdravstvenim institucijama do 2011. godine u Srbiji nije postojalo nikakvo finansiranje od strane države, sada postoji, 65% troškova rekonstrukcije pola se plaća iz budžeta. U Srbiji postoji hirurski tim koji je jako stručan i cenjen u svetu, ali uprkos tome postoji problem jer je reč o malom broju stručnjaka. Generalno mali broj lekara je edukovan da se bavi trans problemima, i to ne samo na nivou savetovanja, već ne znaju šta da rade sa osoboma koje su na hormonima ili koje su imale operacije, izbegavaju to da rade ili ne žele da rade. Ne žele da se mešaju u posao tima koji to radi. Sam proces rekonstrukcije pola počinje od psihičke evaluacije i za početak se osoba upućuje kod psihijatra. Sa psihijatrom se radi oko godinu dana, rade se psihološki testovi i dobije se dijagnoza F64.0 – transseksualizam, kako su to nazvali, koji spada u grupu poremećaja ponašanja odraslih. Zdravstveni sistem nas diskriminiše prvo tom patologizujućom dijagnozom, koja spada u oblast mentalnih poremećaja. Nakon dobijanja dijagnoze osoba kreće sa hormonima, tada telo kreće da se menja.  Kod muškaraca kreće raspodela masti u oragnizmu na specifičan način, dobija se muški obrazac ćelavosti, rastu facijalne dlake, produbi se glas, jednostavno osoba prolazi kroz neki novi pubertet. Kod trans žena je situacija obrnuta, dolazi do preraspodele masti, rasta grudi i smanjivanje maljavosti, nakon što se steknu uslovi osoba se upućuje na hiruršku rekonstrukciju genitalija. To kod trans muškaraca uključuje mastektomiju tj. uklanjanje grudi i hiruške intervencije na genitalijama. Kod nas država finansira samo jedan tip zahvata i naravno radi se i histerektomija koja je obavezna, to je u stvari uklanjanje reproduktivnih organa, to kod nas zakonom nije zabranjeno. U poslednjih par godina veliki broj država u svetu je zakonom zabranio nasilnu sterilizaciju trans osoba. Kod nas to još uvek postoji i ljudi su obavezni da urade histerektomiju. Kod trans žena rade se takođe genitalne operacije i isto sterilizacija i nakon toga osoba sa potvrdom koju dobije od hirurga stiče mogućnost da promeni matični broj. Tu je zakon jako loš, odnosno ne postoji i zakonska regulativa. Gayten je uradio u saradnji sa pravnim timom predlog zakona kojim bi se to regulisalo. Poznato je na kojim gradskim opštinama je osoblje jako ljubazno i spremno da jako brzo uraditi taj proces, dok se na nekim opštinama ide do suda. Na primer osoba koja je uradila rekonstrukciju pola odlazi sa svojim dokumentima i potvrdom lekara u opštinu kod matičara  i oni odbijaju da promene matični broj, ne dozvoljavaju osobi da dobije nova dokumenta, a osoba koja ima dokumenta sa ženskim imenom i oznakom ženskog pola, a fizički izgled biološkog muškarca vrlo teško može da dobije posao, vrlo teško može da pristupi bilo kakvoj vrsti socijalzacije koje zahteva bilo kakvo dokumentovanje, identifikaciju, tipa prelazak državne granice, to predstavlja veliki problem.

Što se tiče samog zdravstvenog sistema, kada je donet zakon da država plaća 65% troškova rekonstrukcije pola tada je uveden neki red u celokupnu zdravstvenu proceduru u koju ulaze trans osobe, međutim naravno da još uvek postoje zloupotrebe položaja i s obzirom na to da ne postoji zakon koji nas štiti od diskriminacije, tu je otvoren prostor da radi svako šta želi. Sada to svakako jeste više birokratizovano nego što je ranije bilo. Ranije se menjala cena tih zahvata od danas za sutra, tada ljudi nemaju drugi izbor nego da otkažu termin i da nabave dodatni novac. Da ne pominjem da su ranije rađene operacije u uslovima koji nisu adekvatni, postoperativna nega je izostajala jer lekare ne zanima da se posle time bave. To je bila realnost koju su živele trans osobe do 2011. godine. Sada je to takođe prisutno ali u manjoj meri. Ako se ispostavi da ljudi imaju neke komplikacije nakon operativnih zahvata, oni mogu biti u jako velikom problemu jer je realnost takva da zavise od volje nekolicine ljudi koji se tim problemom bave, dakle zavise od njihove dobre volje da urade neku reviziju, ponovni pregled itd.

Kod nas to nije usamljeni slučaj, postoje istraživanja koja potvrđuju da se diskriminacija dešava i u zemljama Evrope i u SAD, gde lekari odbijaju da leče trans osobe, odbijaju da imaju fizički kontakt tokom pregleda, nasilni su, prema jednom istraživanju oko 30% trans osoba je prijavilo verbalno i fizičko nasilje prilikom traženja i dobijanja usluga zdravstvene zaštite. Ja sam konkretno doživeo diskriminaciju u bolnici, iako se nisam autovao kao trans osoba iz straha da ne bi bio diskriminisam, doživeo  sam transfobičnu reakciju koju je uzrokovao moj fizički izgled. Naravno nisam se bunio da ne bih pogoršao situaciju sebi, jednostavno sam sačekao da završim sa tim lečenjem i da se sklonim iz te sredine. U ovim godinama imam mogućnost da biram sredinu u kojoj se krećem, to recimo srednjoškolci nemaju, jer oni moraju da idu u školu i upućeni su na tu grupu vršnjaka sa kojima su zatvoreni nekoliko sati u tim učionicama. Kada su mlađe osobe u pitanju, dakle koje nisu punoletne, njima je ograničeno i kretanje od strane roditelja, oni su upućeni na jedan uzak krug ljudi koji je najčešće trasfobičan i zbog toga su u velikom problemu. Ja imam taj luksuz da biram i prijatelje i okruženje tako da sebi stvaram sredinu koja će da me podrži i sredinu koja će da me osnaži da živim svoj identitet. Usled velike diskriminacije u krugu porodice, prijatelja, institucionalno, društvene diskriminacije, postoji velika stopa samoubistava kod trans osoba, jednostavno ne mogu da izađu na kraj sa svim tim pritiscima. Sada i postoji umrežavanje, postoji TMB, i u zadnjih deset godina u regionu je formirano nekoliko organizacija koje se bave trans pravima, recimo Trans Aid u Hrvatskoj i Spektra u Crnoj Gori, radi se na osnaživanju i ljudi imaju mogućnost da upoznaju druge ljude i da se osnaže. Nekada su se ljudi upoznavali slučajno, recimo sretnu se na klinici ili neko poznaje nekog pa te upozna sa tom osobom itd. Zato su aktivističke organizacije važne  jer su tu da pomažu ljudima, da ih povezuju i da im olakšaju ceo taj proces kroz koji prolaze.

U medijima o trans osobama možemo da pročitamo samo kada su ubijene, prebijene, pojavljuju se samo kao žrtve ili je reč o nekom ismevanju, nemamo te pozitivne primere. Moja ideja za portal je da napravimo odeljak u kome će stajati kratke biografije poznatih trans i rodnovarijantnih osoba koje se bave umetnošću, teorijom, aktivizmom, naukom,  to bi bile osobe koje su javno autovane, potrebno je da ljudi vide da se neko izborio sa problemima koje nam društvo nameće.

Veliki broj trans osoba, posebno u Srbiji, teži da što pre uđe u proces tranzicije, da što pre dobije dijagnozu, da krene na hormone, uradi operacije i uklopi se u društvo, da bi zaštitili sebe i umanjili diskriminaciju. Na Zapadu isto veliki broj ljudi želi da uđe u proces rekonstrukcije pola, međutim postoji i veliki broj ljudi koji ne žele da menjaju svoje telo ali žele da menjaju svoj rodni idenitet. Ja nisam radio nikakve medicinske intervencije, moja transrodnost se sastoji u tome što ja govorim u muškom rodu i koristim ime koje se  u ovoj sredini smatra muškim imenom. Čak nisam ni legalno promenio ime, jer nemam na to zakonsko pravo.

U društvu u kome živimo trans osobe ne mogu pobeći od problema. Osobe koji promene dokumenta i izmene svoje telo nisu rešile sve svoje probleme vezane za trans identitet. Tu su ljudi koje su poznavali od ranije sa kojima često prekidaju kontakt iz straha od diskriminacije. Sele se u druge gradove gde ih niko ne poznaje. Te osobe takođe kao  i svi drugi žele da ostvaruju emotivne veze. Takve promene na telu ne mogu baš tako lako da se sakriju, nije moguće odraditi sve te operacije i reći – e ja sam sad cis muškarac nemam nikavih problema. Takođe u LGB zajednici postoji velika diskriminacija trans osoba, kao što u trans zajednici postoji homofobija. To su sve društveno uslovljeni procesi. Jedna od prvih stvari sa kojima se bore trans osobe je autotransfobija, kao što se LGB ososbe bore sa autohomofobijom. Mi smo vaspitavani u heteroseksualnom društvu u kome se heteroseksualnost vrednuje kao nešto što je normalno, homoseksulanost u Srbiji je dekriminalizovana tek 1994. godine, do tada je bilo kažnjivo biti homoseksulac. Obrazovani sistem je homofobičan, pravni sistem takođe, kompletno društvo je homofobično, i u takvom društvu trans i LGB osobe ne mogu da budu izvan toga i one se bore sa tim predrasudama, vremenom se percepcija menja, ljudi rade na tome i prestaju da budu autotransfobični ili autohomofobični. Pa čak i kada se stvore mogućnosti da se nekom autuju ponekad neće to uraditi, zato što postoji strah od neprihvatanja od strane drugih osoba, a izvor straha je i neko duboko nezadovoljstvo time što smo zapravo drugačiji. Skoro sve manjinske grupe se suočavaju sa tim autofobijama. Naravno na tome mora da se radi, zato i postoje te grupe samopodrške i edukacija.

 

NG: Stekla sam utisak da vašim tekstovima koje ste postavili na TMB sajt, se ne obraćate isključivo trans osobama, već  su usmereni svima, vrlo su i feministički. Da se vratim na to kako se prikazuju u medijima trans osobe. Prvo što mi je u pretraživaču izašlo jesu manekenke, koje su izvršile prilagođavanje pola, sa tekstom koji ih opisuje kao seksi i kako mnogi muškarci lude za njima, gde se odmah pelazi u šovinizam i u mizoginiju.

AM: Mediji pišu o tome senzacionalistički naravno. Trans žene se pored transfobije susreću i sa mizoginijom i seksizmom. One su izložene visokom stepenu nasilja i na našim prostorima i na Zapadu. Na Balkanu je recimo jako teško biti trans muškarac koji nije izmenio svoje telo, jer se automatski postavlja pitanje kako to sad tako, kako možeš, nisi dovoljno muškarac, nemaš bradu, imaš piskav glas. Kao što su i strejt cis muškarci suočeni sa patrijarhatom i pritiscima da budu mačo, agresivni, da usvoje sve zahteve koji se očekuju od muškarca, tako su i trans muškarci suočeni sa tim. Pretpostavlja se često da osobe koje urade rekonstrukciju pola da će nastaviti život kao heteroseksualne osobe, što naravno nije uvek slučaj. Višestruka diskriminacija je veliki problem jer trans osoba može da bude i romske nacionalnosti ili da dolazi iz neke manjinske verske grupe, može da bude osoba sa invaliditetom, homoseksualna osoba, zaista postoji veliki broj osoba koje se susreću sa višestrukom diskriminacijom.

NG: Kako je destabilizovan normativni model patrijarhalnog muškarca, povukao je i sve druge identitete.Da bi se održao kao primarni, svoju poziciju održava upravo nasiljem, kojim ostvaruje svoju potrebu da zadovolji kulturološke standarde muške snage i muškosti.

AM:  Ono što si navela za trans žene koje se bave manekenstvom i koje su poznate, ja mogu da zamislim kakvu vrstu agresije kod strejt cis muškaraca izaziva sama činjenica da oni mogu da se uzbude seksualno na neku ženu koja je trans žena. To njima destabilizuje kompletan i rodni identitet i seksualni identitet. Čest uzrok ubijanja trans osoba i kod nas i u svetu je taj da trans žene koje se bave seksualnim radom bivaju ubijane od strane klijenata, koji ne mogu da se suoče sa svojom sopstvenom seksualnošću.

 

NG: Da bi ona nestala, da ne bi postojao dokaz. Koji su uzroci i okidači transfobije?

AM: Šta je sad okidač? Sama fobija kao fobija je neki nerealni strah jednostavno. Ljudi su navikli na taj nametnuti red i poredak, na uspostavljene granice. Društvo je uspostavilo granice koje se baziraju na rodnom binarnom normativu i na heteroseksualnosti. Čim neko pokuša da ugrozi te granice, ljudi postaju agresivni i pokušavaju da odbrane ceo taj sistem, zapravo ceo taj sistem je konstruisan tako da sve vreme pokušava da odbrani svoje granice.

Ja se u svom doktoratu bavim telom i između ostalog se bavim i polom. Medicina je smatrala praktično do XIX veka da su ženske genitalije samo inverzne muške genitalije. Takođe, nije postojala reč za jajnike već su se testisi i jajnici nazivali jednim istim imenom. Onda su napredovali i utvrdili razlike između ženskih i muških reproduktivnih organa. Nakon toga medicina je otkrila hormone. Onda su se lekari oslonili na to i smatrali da su hormoni jako važni za određivanje pola. Dakle postavljalo se pitanje da li su genitalije važne za određivanje pola, da li su to gonade, da li su to hormoni. Što se više napredovalo u toj oblasti medicine sve više su empirijski dokazi ukazivali na to da je pol kao binarna kategorija neodrživ, a posebno zato što postoje ososbe koje se nikako ne uklapaju u te zadate normative, ali njih su smestili u posebnu kategoriju, naravno reč je o interpolnim osobama. Tu kategoriju su stavili kao posebnu, sada da ne dužim jer je to posebna priča. Medicina sve vreme pokušava da osigura postojanje samo dva pola i u skladu sa tim i dva roda, i naravno heteroseksualnost kao poželjni normativni oblik seksualnosti. Kada se pojavi neko ko se svojim telom ili svojim identitetom ne uklapa u te okvire automatski je drugost, ne spada u normativ, već spada u drugost, i kao takva ta drugost se marginalizuje i diskriminiše. To je glavni okidač za transfobiju.

Sam proces rekonstrukcije pola je nešto što je konstruisano od pedesetih godina XX veka. Operacije prilagođavanja pola su rađene i 1920ih godina baš u Nemačkoj, to je rađeno na institutu koji je osnovao Magnus Hiršfild (Magnus Hirschfeld), koji je zapravo osnovao prvu organiizaciju za LGBT prava u svetu. Tek pedesetih godina je Harry Benjamin (Heri Bendžamin), seksolog, na neki način standardizovao taj trijadni proces tranzicije za transpolne osobe koji je uključivao  psihološku procenu, hormonsku terapiju i operacije. Tako da je i to zapravo konstruisano tako da bi se osobe normalizovale, da bi se prevele iz jednog stanja u drugo, da bi se njihov pol i rod složio i ostao u domenu jedne od dve ponuđene binarne kategorije. Isto važi i za interpolne osobe. Na interpolnim osobama dok su još odojčad vrše se intervencije rekonstrukcije genitalija, bez ikakvog medicinskog zdravstvenog razloga, dakle samo radi normalizacije. U poslednjih nekoliko godina je to zabranjeno u mnogim zemljama jer to predstavlja kršenje osnovnih ljudskih prava, ali i kod nas se to radi. O tome se ne govori, ali to se radi. A zašto bi na silu nekom menjalo telo ako je ono potpuno funkcionalno? Samo da bi ga jednostavno normalizovali. Čak i roditelji koji ne žele da se na njihovoj deci vrše takvi zahvati svedoče o pritiscima koje lekari i osoblje bolnica vrši na njih, o pritiscima koje rodbina vrši na njih, o pritiscima okoline, te na kraju bivaju prinuđeni da dozvole hiruške korekcije. Dete se rodi sa genitalijama koje se ne uklapaju u polni normativ i od roditelja se traži pristanak za operaciju. Lekari ih savetuju da o tome ne govore porodici i prijateljima, savetuju da se to odradi u tišini i miru. Neki od roditelja već su edukovani po tom pitanju i ne žele da pristanu na to,  ali onda se oni suočavaju sa pretnjama i pritiscima, suočavaju se sa socijalnim službama koje prete oduzimanjem deteta. Zahvaljujući binarnom normativu dete koje se rodi i nema nikave zdravstvene probleme postane osoba koja ima zdravstvene probleme jer bude osuđena na doživotnu hormonsku terapiju ili ima različite urološke probleme ili pak psihičke probleme usled svega što su joj priredili u detinjstvu. Pol je spektar kao što je i rod spektar,samo što je dominantni sistem toliko naturalizovao tu binarnu podelu da ljudi nisu sposobni da razmišljaju van toga. U jeziku ne možemo da izbegnemo tu binarnu podelu. A srpski jezik je vrlo nezgodan za izbegavanje roda.

 

NG: Koja bi rešenja ili praktične promene mogle biti primenjene u borbi protiv transfobije?

AM: Lično mislim za početak da ono što bi najviše bilo od koristi jesu izmene zakona. Kada bi bili doneti valjani zakoni, koji bi se naravno i primenjivali, došlo bi do promena. Takođe to bi automatski uticalo i na sve druge institucije. Sada ne samo da ne postoje edukativni programi o transrodnosti u obrazovanom sistemu, nego se tek radi na tome da se edukuju osobe koje su zaposlene u obrazovnom sistemu. Kao što se radi na tome da se edukuju radnici ministarstva unutrašnjih poslova, da se edukuju zdravstveni radnici, jer oni ne znaju kako da pristupe transrodnim osobama, ne znaju sa kojim problemima se trans osobe sreću. Aktivističke organizacije rade na tome da edukuju zdravstvene radnike, policiju, sve one državne službe koje perpertuiraju tu transfobiju koja već postoji u društvu. A i sam obrazovni sistem je diskriminatoran. Skoro sam u novinama čitao vest o učiteljici koja je nakon proslave koje su pravila deca stara 9 godina, poslala dečake kući, a devojčice ostavila da očiste i pospreme učionicu. Učiteljica uči decu o rodnoj podeli rada. Kako bi se jedno transrodno dete osećalo u takvoj sredini ili pak dete koje nije transrodno ali je kod kuće naučilo da je rodna podela rada diskriminatorna i neopravdana?

Jako je teško prodreti i doći do toga da uopšte može da se pristupi edukaciji u okviru obrazovnog sistema. Ne samo zaposlenih već i dece. Institucije se opiru toj vrsti edukacije.

Kada bi se za početak radilo na toj izmeni zakona i tog usklađivanja pravnog okvira, onda bi druge institucije: obrazovne, zdravstvene, religijske, za početak morale da poštuju taj zakon i automatski bi se smanjila diskriminacija pod uslovom da se zakon primenjuje, naravno. A ono što smatram da je od velike važnosti za promene generalno uopšte u društvu u širem smislu, dakle ne samo u okviru institucija, su mediji. Kada bi mediji pokazali pozitivan odnos prema LGBT ljudima situacija bi se promenila. Mediji igraju tu veliku ulogu ne samo u širenju vidljivosti trans osoba i njihovih životnih priča, već i u širenju diskriminacije u zavisnosti od toga kako izveštavaju.

Kod nas u Srbiji je jako aktuelan radikalni feminizam koji je prilično često transfobičan, isključuje trans žene iz te priče.

U suštini je sve to povezano, ali koje još promene bi mogle da doprinesu smanjenju diskriminacije manjinskih grupa? Pa po meni to je i udruživanje svih tih različitih organizacija, ne samo trans organizacija već i drugih organizacija. Saradnja organizacija koje se bave LGBT problematikom je uobičajena, one se često udružuju, ali kada bi se te organizacije povezale sa drugim manjinskim organizacijama, recimo sa romskom organizacijom, organizacijama osoba sa invaliditetom, i slično, i kada bi se manjine više osnažile postojala bi veća šansa da se smanji diskriminacija, stvorila bi se kritična masa ljudi koja može nešto da promeni.Tako da bi trebalo jedni druge da podržimo

 

NG: Ono što primećujem da ljudi ne vide ni diskriminaciju koji neko vrši nad njima.

AM: Najočigledniji primer je to da žene najčešće ne primećuju seksizam i mizoginiju, ne primećuju diskriminaciju kojoj su izložene u društvu jednostavno jer su društvene norme toliko naturalizovane da ne primećujemo da su konstruisane i nametnute. Ja dugo nisam primećivao diskriminaciju ali sada je primećujem jer sam u aktivizmu i bavim se time pa znam šta to znači, ali ne smeta mi uvek, a trebalo bi da mi smeta. Ne smeta mi ponekad zato što sam navikao na to, to je nešto kao dobar dan, neko može da dođe i da se sprda sa time kako ja izgledam ili sa mojim izražavanjem u muškom rodu, ali u suštini ne obazirem se nešto previše na to jer nemam snage da se nerviram. Eto desilo mi se u zdravstvenom sistemu, neko se šalio neprilično, i da ne živim ovde gde živim i da postoji neki zakonski okvir ja bih mogao to da prijavim, ali ja sada  i ovde nemam kome to da prijavim. Smatram da niko nema pravo da mi se smeje jer sam drugačiji od većine, ali ja ću preko toga da pređem jer znam da nemam osnova da tužim, a pošto ne postoji nikakva zaštita samo bih izgubio vreme, onda bolje da se ne nerviram, jednostavno nasmejem se kiselo i to je to.

NG: Pričao si vezano za momenat kada se proces započne. Ukoliko se započne pre puberteta utoliko je bolje, jer će taj proces biti prirodniji.

AM: To je sad posebna priča. Zakoni različitih zemalja različito to tretiraju, negde je to dozvoljeno tek posle puberteta, negde su dozvoljeni blokatori hormona koji se uzimaju ranije, postoje različite regulative. Idelano bi bilo kada bi osobe mogle same da odlučuju o sopstvenom telu i o tome šta žele, a šta ne žele. I sama ta procedura u koju ljudi ulaze je normalizujuća, lekari vrše polnu i rodnu normalizaciju kroz te operacije. Zato i rade prisilnu sterilizaciju, jer ako jedan trans muškarac ne odstrani svoje reproduktivne organe, on može da prestane da uzima testosteron jednog dana i da rodi dete. To je za sve one koji se drže binarnog polnog i rodnog normativa nezamislivo, to je napad na uspostavljene granice sistema.

 

NG: To je vema fašisoidno, nacisti su u drugom svetskom ratu su nasilno sterilizovali jevreje. Mislim da postoje medicinski postupci koji bi omogućili da imaš potomke, ali onda dolaziš do toga zato što si trans da ti potomci nisu dozvoljeni.

AM: Lekari to rade pod plaštom zaštite zdravlja pacijenata, ali ne postoji nijedna ozbiljna medicinska studija o tome da ako se reproduktivni organi ne uklone da postoji rizik po zdravlje, dakle ne postoji referenca na koju bi se zdravstveni sistem jedne države pozvao i time objasnio zašto su te prisilne sterilizacije neophodne. Nemaju argument koji je validan i koji bi mogao da prođe. Ono što kažu je: „eh znaš ako ako ti ne uklonimo reproduktivne organe postoji mogućnst dobijanja karcinoma“. Ali ne postoji studija koja bi to opravdala. Ceo taj proces rekonstrukcije pola je tako standardizovan da se osoba uklopi u binarni model. Neko možda želi samo da uzima hormone i da promeni ime, možda ne želi ništa da promeni na svom telu, ali kod nas osoba koja ne prođe kroz ceo proces ne može da promeni dokumenta, tako da je uslovljena operacijama.

 

NG: Da li imaš nešto da dodaš?

AM: Da se osvrnemo na samu temu revolucionarni subjekt. Ja se često susrećem sa ljudima koji nisu iz LGBT priče, koji su van svega toga i veliki broj njih sa nekom vrstom oduševljenja sluša o tome kako žive transrodne osobe i njima je to nekako fascinantno. Ja u tim situacijama u stvari shvatim da ja na neki način radim jednu važnu stvar, čak i da se ne bavim aktivizmom i da ne pišem o tome, ja na neki način za početak utičem na razmišljanje jednog uskog kruga ljudi, moji prijatelji znaju celu priču i oni će ispričati to svojim prijateljima, tako se taj krug širi. To je svakako bolje nego da sam ostao da živim tako da prikrivam svoj identitet i da mi bude teško i još teže nego što je sada i da niko ne zna za to. Tako da u suštini ja živim neku svoju malu ličnu revoluciju. Iako možda nemam potencijala, snage i mogućnosti da doprinesem nekoj većoj promeni, ja verujem u to da u svom mikro okruženju svaka trans osoba vrši mini revoluciju, jer pre svega ukazuje na to da rod nije binaran i da može da se živi i van ovih kutija koje nam društvo nameće. Ako jedna osoba ima snage da promeni svoj rod i da promeni svoje telo, zašto se onda neka žena koja doživljava diskriminaciu na osnovu svog roda i pola ne bi usprotivila tome, zašto ona ne bi mogla da kaže – hej, pa ja ne moram da čistim, kuvam i spremam svima, ja mogu da podelim posao sa svojim ukućanima, a ne samo ja da budem rob tih takozvanih ženskih poslova i rodne podele rada. Svi učimo jedni od drugih pa tako od nas treba da uče druge manjine, kao što mi učimo od drugih manjina.

 

NG: Uvek je to da uradiš nešto da možeš da ostaviš iza sebe da drugima bude lakše.

AM: Jedna od dražih stvari koja mi se desila tokom godina je kada sam upoznao dečka jedne moje drugarice koja me je upozorila da je on dobar dečko ali da je malo desničar. Mi smo tako sedeli i počeli da pričamo i naravno on je meni počeo da postavlja neka pitanja vezana za transrodnost, mojoj drugarici nije bilo prijatno jer se brinula šta će od toga ispasti, ali ja sam baš namerno hteo da pričam sa njim jer sam video da dečko nije nasilan i da neće da vređa, i mi smo pričali jedno dva tri sata na tu temu, i njegovo pitanje na kraju razgovora je bilo da li mogu da ga posavetujem šta da radi ako mu se rodi dete koje je trans ili gej. To je meni bilo savršeno, odličan kraj razgovora. Jednostavno čovek je saslušao i shvatio da LGBT problematika nije nešto što je tamo negde van njegove kuće, van njegove porodice, nego nešto što može sutra da bude deo njegovog života, deo njegove porodice. I želi sa tim na pravi način da se nosi, želeo je da sazna kako da pomogne svom detetu, eto meni je to bilo divno.

Najviše me neviraju ljudi koji me slušaju i posmatraju tako kao da ono što se dešava meni nikada ne može da se desi njima, a nisu svesni da sutra mogu da zavole transrodnu osobu, da rode dete koje je transrodno, to može da postane deo svačijeg života. Zašto onda izbegavati priču o tome ili ignorisati, i zašto diskriminisati?.


Conversation with Aleksa Milanovic, an activist of the Trans Network Balkan, a writer and theoretician of art and media, whose research focuses on the issue of body, sex and gender.

 

NG: Trans Network Balkan represents a joint platform of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia from which you support, educate and provide all necessary information to persons of all gender identities, expressions and gender characteristics. Can you please tell us more about TNB activities and connections in the region for the purposes of strengthening the Trans community?

AM: Trans Network Balkan expanded in the meantime and now also includes Slovenia, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo, everything is going as planned and, at the moment, we are trying to strengthen capacities and engage more people. Of course, it is very hard to engage people in environments where transgender activism is not developed. One of the objectives of the Network is to strengthen local organizations and local groups, which would then establish their own organizations. Since 2006, there is a transgender group of self-support in Belgrade, which operates within the Gayten-LGBT organization. The self-support group gathers transgender and gender-variant individuals who share experiences among each other. Later, people connect with others outside the group and form some formal establishments, but these are smaller groups with less people who are interested in doing something and one of the goals of our Network is to help them if they want to establish their own organization or to implement some of their ideas, our goal is to give them support and help them carry out their projects. It can be forming a NGO, establishing a citizens’ group, carry out smaller projects, organize a humanitarian exhibition with which we can help somebody to raise money for an expensive surgery someone needs or to save a life. I am a member of Trans Network Balkan, so as a representative of the Network I organized an exhibition on Fijuk, and even if I weren’t their member, I could contact them and ask for help, just like any other person who wishes to do a presentation with their own local group. They could give me instructions on what I can do and where, both with their advice and their funds, although we don’t have extensive funds, but we could contribute with gathering people via the portal and social networks, because as an individual I could not gather that many people to participate in the exhibition, but they as a group can spread the information, which is one of the roles of the Network in the region.

As one of the most important activity of the network, I would like to mention the Internet portal where transgender and gender-variant individuals can find the information about legal framework and regulations in each of the countries, information regarding healthcare or some other things that are happening and which are related to the transgender issues. The portal is our first big project which is followed by some other activities, but the important thing for us is that it is growing. It will spread even more since we are planning new sections. It is very useful, because that is how the information is spread. One of the major activities is Transposium, which is organized by TNB in cooperation with other organizations. It was established upon the initiative of Trans Aid from Zagreb (Croatia) in 2014 and two Transposiums were held since then, one in spring and the other in autumn, both organized in Zagreb in the organization of Trans Aid and Women Room, which are organizations from Croatia. Trans Aid gave over the Transposium to Trans Network, because it makes more sense that the organization which is a platform organizes such an event with the idea of gathering transgender persons from the region and beyond. Then, in 2016, TNB and Trans Aid together organized the third Transposium, and in 2017 TNB in cooperation with Trans Aid and transgender activists, today known as Spektra – an organization from Montenegro, organized the fourth Transposium in Podgorica, Montenegro. This year, we are organizing the fifth Transposium in Rijeka (Croatia) where an informal transgender group from Rijeka will participate, all in cooperation with us and Trans Aid. We hope and we are working on the next Transposium to be held in Belgrade.

Transposium is a symposium which includes seminars on education, self-support, it includes various types of workshops which are held for transgender and gender-variant individuals, as well as for people who want to support transgender individuals, and, of course, there will be a party, as well as socializing and exhibition, which will most probably contain the works which were exhibited on Fijuk. The idea is to gather transgender individuals from the region so that they can meet each other, share ideas and learn from one another. Transposium is annual gathering where we share ideas, information and plans. When we gather there is a lot of enthusiasm, more than when people are isolated and alone. We are connected via social networks, but when we see each other face to face, the chances to implement something are greater. Everybody is welcome. We also collect funds for people who are not financially able to come, i.e. to pay the trip, accommodation, etc.

The character of the Transposium is probably going to change over years. I would like to have some of the works exhibited, not only artistic ones, but theoretical ones as well, and this can be broadened but, of course, the funds are always a problem, as well as finding space and paying people to come. The goal is to always invite other people who are not active members and who could not meet otherwise.  There is a Trans group in Belgrade, but none in smaller towns in Serbia, and people usually don’t have money to come here once a month or once every couple of months and attend the meetings of the Trans group, and Transposium would enable people who don’t live in large regional centers, such as Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo, to come and meet the community. To share experience, not only of activist character, in terms of how we solve some legal issues and problems in healthcare, but also personal experience, how each of us fight with our everyday struggles.

Until I met other transgender persons, it was much harder for me to deal with personal everyday problems that I encounter as a transgender person, but when I met transgender people, I thought to myself: if this person can live with this identity, why couldn’t I? We didn’t have role models in the media, now there are a few, but before there were none. We need more people who are willing to publicly talk about this issue in a positive manner. Of course, this is very difficult to achieve because only few are willing to take such risks. Enhancing visibility is one of the main activist goals we have. Ignorance is our biggest enemy and it is one of the main generators of transphobia. And yet, it’s hard to speak publicly about it, come out publicly, it’s emotionally exhausting and it’s really risky.

Another important activity that we carry out is a research about healthcare, which will be available in five languages. We are also preparing an application which will be filled in by transgender and gender-variant persons who are in contact with the healthcare system, each in their own country. This is because healthcare is one of the major issues that trans-gender persons encounter. It will be prepared in BCSM languages (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin), English, Slovenian, Macedonian and Albanian.

 

NG: What are the state mechanisms in the production of discriminatory policies towards transgender persons in Serbia?

AM: In addition to general cultural discrimination, institutional discrimination is also very strong in Serbia and in all countries in the region. I would first point out legal and healthcare institutions, and then educational and religious institutions.

Because of legal issues that transgender persons have in Serbia, their other rights are automatically threatened as well: the right to work and employment, the right to healthcare, the right to education, etc. A classic example: every person, transgender or not, choose the clothes to wear first thing in the morning, the clothes are gender-based. If a transgender woman in Serbia hasn’t undergone transition or gender reassignment, she is not able to wear what she wants, she cannot wear a dress and go out to the street, because she is at risk of being attacked, transphobia is very high. She is supposed to do errands, go to the local store, to pay the bills, I can only imagine what she encounter if she dressed the way the community would not approve. From my personal experience, I can say that I experienced discrimination in public places many times, in stores or in public institutions. First thing that I am faced with when I wake up is what to wear, and then, luckily, I work in a company where there is no dress code which would be inconvenient for me, but if I worked in a bank where I would be expected to wear a skirt based on my gender identity in my personal ID card, I would be in big trouble. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to work in such place, which automatically limits the number of jobs for me if I want to preserve my mental health and my integrity. I cannot do a job where women are required to have a certain dress code, which includes what we know as “female clothes”. And this is just one of the obstacles.

After, we go to work or to school, and there we face discrimination again. Bullying in Serbia is a major issue, and I can only imagine what transgender people face in high schools, I am certain that they are afraid to come out of the closet. Back when I was in high school, there was no chance to do so. Research has shown that high school students are extremely homophobic, they most likely don’t differentiate transphobia from homophobia, but I believe the level of transphobia is very high. If transgender persons are victims of violence in high schools, who should they go to for help? If they go to their parents, this is another issue, because transgender persons are also victims of domestic violence, it doesn’t have to be only physical violence, it can also be psychological or economical violence. This is a major difference in comparison to other groups that are discriminated, such as racial minorities or religious minorities, the difference is that transgender persons are not protected even at home. They don’t go home and they don’t get approval and support from their parents, in most cases they go home and experience discrimination again. They cannot even complain about what is happening to them at school or at work, the family circle is not some kind of environment that will be benevolent to this problem. First of all, discrimination is present in educational institution that operates with its mechanisms, and second of all, there are people who work as staff who are uneducated and transphobic. The same goes for friends. A large number of LGBT persons lose a lot of friends after declaring themselves, this is not only about the fact that somebody doesn’t want to be your friend because you are a transgender person, but also that they don’t want to be friends with a transgender person so that others wouldn’t treat them as transgender persons, a lesbian or a homosexual.

When it comes to healthcare and healthcare institutions, until 2011 in Serbia there were no state funds allocated for this, but now there are, 65% of the expenses for gender reassignment are covered from the state budget. There is a surgical team in Serbia that is highly competent and recognized in the world, but even despite that, there is a problem because we are talking about a very small number of experts. Generally speaking, not many doctors are educated to deal with transgender problems, and not only when it comes to counseling, but they also don’t know what to do with people who are taking the hormone therapy or who have undergone surgery, they avoid working with them. They don’t want to associate themselves with the work of the team that performs these operations. The very process of gender reassignment starts from the psychological evaluation and the everyday life experience, and a person is at first referred to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist works with that person for about a year, performs psychological tests and gets a diagnose F64.0 – transsexualism, as they called it, which belongs to a group of adult behavioral disorders. The healthcare system first discriminates against us with this pathologic diagnosis, which belongs to the field of mental disorders. After being diagnosed, the person starts the hormone treatment, when their body starts to change.  For men, the body fat is distributed in a different way, the male pattern of baldness is obtained, facial hair starts to grow, the voice deepens, and the person simply passes through a new puberty. For transgender women the situation is reverse, the fats in the body are also distributed in a different way, the breasts start to grow and hairiness decreases, and after the requirements are met, the person is referred to the surgical gender reassignment. For transgender men, this includes mastectomy, i.e. removal of breasts and surgical intervention on genitals. In Serbia the state finances only one type of surgical procedure and, of course, the hysterectomy is performed which is obligatory, and which actually means removal of reproduction organs, which is not prohibited by law in Serbia. In the last couple of years, a great number of states have legally prohibited violent sterilization of transgender persons. In Serbia this is still the case and people are obligated to undergo hysterectomy. Transgender women are also obliged to have genital surgery and sterilization, and after that the person gets a document as a confirmation from the surgeon and is allowed to change the personal citizen number. The law is very bad in this case, there are no legal regulations. Gayten has cooperated with legal team to implement the bylaw which would regulate this issue. We are familiar in which municipalities the personnel is kind and ready to quickly do this process, while in others we must go to court. For example, the person who did gender reassignment goes to the municipality register with his/her documents and confirmation from the doctor and they refuse to change their personal citizen number, they don’t allow the person to have new documents, and the person who has documents under female name and female gender, and physically looks like a man can hardly get a job, can hardly approach any kind of socialization that requires some type of documentation and identification, such as crossing the state border, which is a major issue.  

When it comes to the healthcare system, when the regulation of 65% of the expenses funding for gender reassignment was enforced, then some kind of order was established into the entire healthcare procedure for transgender persons, however, it is obvious that abuse of power is still present considering that there is no law which protects us from discrimination, so everybody can do what they want. Nowadays this is certainly more bureaucratic than it used to be. Previously, the price of these procedures changed daily, and then people had no choice but to cancel the appointment and save the money they need. Not to mention that the surgeries used to be performed in inadequate conditions, post-operation care was lacking because doctors weren’t interested to deal with the patients after the surgery. This was the reality of transgender persons until 2011. This is still present, but much less. If it turns out that people have some complications after the surgery, they can face serious problems because the reality is that they depend on the will of few people who deal with this problem, therefore, they depend on their good will to do a revision, observation, etc.  

In our country, this is not a single case, there are surveys that confirm that discrimination occurs even in the European countries and the USA, where doctors refuse to treat transgender people, they refuse to have physical contact during the examination, they are violent, and according to one survey around 30% of transgender persons has reported verbal and physical abuse while seeking and obtaining services of healthcare protection. Personally, I experienced discrimination in hospital, although I did not declare myself as a transgender person for fear of not being discriminated; I experienced a transphobic reaction which was caused by my appearance. Naturally, I did not complain so as not to make the matter worse for myself, I simply waited to be done with that treatment and get out of that environment. At this age I have the opportunity to choose the environment to move around, which is something that high school kids don’t have, because they must go to school and are referred to their peers, with whom they are enclosed in classrooms for several hours. When it comes to younger persons, their parents also limit their movement, and they are referred to one small circle of people who are most likely transphobic and thus they face a major problem. I have the luxury to choose my friends and surroundings, so I create the environment for myself which will support me and which will empower me to live my identity. As a result of severe discrimination within the circle of family, friends, institutions and social discrimination, the suicide rate among transgender persons is very high, they simply can’t deal with all of that. Nowadays we also have networking, there is TNB and for the past ten years several organizations that deal with transgender rights have been established in the region, such as Trans Aid in Croatia and Spektra in Montenegro, we are working on empowering others and people have the opportunity to meet others and become stronger. People used to meet randomly, for example, they met in a clinic or somebody knows someone, etc. That is why activist organizations are important, because they are here to help people and facilitate the entire process they are going through.

In the media we can read about transgender people only when they are killed or beaten, they appear only as victims or are subject to ridicule, so we don’t have any positive examples. My idea for portal is to make a section which will contain short resumes of famous transgender and gender-variant persons who are involved in art, theory, activism, and science; those would be the persons who have declared themselves publicly, because it is necessary that the people see that someone was able to deal with problems imposed by our society.

A lot of transgender persons, especially in Serbia, want to start the transition process as soon as possible, to be diagnosed and start the hormone treatment, have the surgeries and fit in into society in order to protect themselves and lower the discrimination. Likewise, in the West a lot of people also want to start the gender reassignment procedure, however, there are also a lot of people who do not want to change their body but want to change their gender identity. I did not have any medical interventions, my transgenderness consists of me speaking in a masculine gender and using a name which is considered a male name in this environment. I did not even legally change my name, because the law doesn’t give me that right. This is how I live.

In the society we live in, transgender people cannot escape problems. People who change their documents and their bodies did not escape from their problems regarding transgender identity. There are people they knew before the transition, with whom they often cease contact out of fear of discrimination. They move to other towns where noone knows them. Those people, just like everybody else, want to have emotional relationships. Such changes on the body cannot be easily hidden, it is not possible to do all the surgeries and say – hey, I am now a man  and I don’t have any problems. Likewise, in LGB community there is a high discrimination against transgender persons, just like there is homophobia in transgender community. These are all socially conditioned processes. One of the first issues that transgender people fight against is auto transphobia, just like LGB persons fight against auto homophobia. We have been raised in a heterosexual environment where heterosexuality is valued as something that is normal; in Serbia homosexuality was decriminalized until 1994, when it was punishable by law to be homosexual. Educational system is homophobic, legal system as well, the entire society is homophobic, and in such society transgender and LGB persons cannot be above it all and they fight against it, with time the perception changes, people work on it and stop being auto transphobic or auto homophobic. Even when there are opportunities to go out of the closet, sometimes they won’t do so because there is fear from being rejected by others, and the source of fear is also some deep dissatisfaction for actually being different. Almost all minority groups face these auto phobias. Of course, we must work on this and that is why we have self-support groups and education.

 

NG: In your texts that you published on TNB website, I got the impression that you did not address transgender persons exclusively, but rather you are focused on everybody, and the texts are also very feministic. Let’s go back to how transgender persons are represented in the media. The first thing that popped up in my browser are models, who have had gender reassignment, with texts that describe them as sexy and how many men are crazy about them, and then we immediately move to chauvinism and misogyny.

AM: Of course, the media write about it sensationally. In addition to transphobia, transgender women also face misogyny and sexism. They are exposed to a high level of violence both in our regions and in the West. For example, in the Balkans it is very hard to be a transgender men who did not change his body, because it automatically brings up the question of did this happen, how can you do that, you are not man enough, you don’t have beard, you have high-pitched voice. Just like straight men face patriarchy and pressure to me macho and aggressive, to adopt all requirements that are expected from men, so do the transgender men. It is often presumed that those persons who have gone through gender reassignment surgery will continue to live life as heterosexual persons, which of course is not always the case. Multiple discrimination is a major issue because a transgender person can also be of Roma nationality or come from some minority religious group; he/she can be a person with disabilities, or a homosexual, so there are really a lot of people who face multiple discrimination.

 

NG: Since standard model of a patriarchal man was destabilized, it also affected all other identities. In order to stay predominant, it keeps its position with violence, which is used to achieve the purpose of cultural standards of male strength and masculinity.

AM:  What you said about transgender women who are modeling and are famous, I can only imagine what type of aggression it causes to straight men the very fact that they can be sexually aroused by a woman who is a transgender woman. It destabilizes their entire gender identity and sexual identity. A frequent cause of killing transgender persons both in our country and in the world is that transgender women that work in the sex industry are being killed by their clients who cannot face their own sexuality.

 

NG: So that she would disappear, so that there would be no evidence. What are the causes and triggers of transphobia?

AM: What is the trigger now? The very phobia as phobia is simply an unbased fear. People are used to this imposed order and framework for the established boundaries. The society has set boundaries which are based on gender binary standard and heterosexuality. As soon as somebody tries to endanger those boundaries, people become aggressive and try to defend the entire system, in fact, the whole system is designed in such a way so as to try to defend its margins at all times.

In my doctorate, I write about the body and, among other things, about gender. Practically, up until XIX century, medicine believed that female genitalia were only inverse male genitalia. For a long time, there wasn’t a word for ovaries, and testicles and ovaries were called the same. Then medicine improved and the differences were made between female and male reproductive organs. After that, medicine discovered hormones. Then, the doctors started counting on that and believed that hormones were very important for determination of sex. Therefore, the question was asked whether genitalia were important for determination of sex, or whether it were gonads or hormones. Major progress was made in that field of medicine, more empirical evidence pointed to the fact that gender as binary category is unsustainable, and especially because there are persons who don’t fit into these predetermined standards, but they are placed into a special category, of course, we are talking about intersex persons. This category was separated from others, but I won’t talk about it now because this is a different story. This entire time medicine has been trying to make sure there are only two sexes and, accordingly, only two genders, and, of course, heterosexuality as a desirable type of sexuality. When you have someone who does not fit into those frameworks with their body or their identity, that person is automatically different because it does not fit into standard, but rather it is different and as such it is marginalized and discriminated. That is the major trigger for transphobia.

The very process of gender reassignment is something that was constructed in the 1950s. Gender reassignment surgeries were performed even after the 1920s in Germany, which was done at the institute founded by Magnus Hirschfeld, who in fact established the first organization for LGBT rights in the world. Only in the 1950s did Harry Benjamin, a sexologist, manage to in some way standardize this triad process of transition for transgender persons, which included psychological evaluation, hormone treatment and surgeries. Therefore, this was constructed so as to normalize the persons, to transfer them from one condition to another, to harmonize their sex and gender and stay within the domain of one of the two suggested binary categories. The same goes for intersex persons. While still infants, intersex persons are subjected to interventions of gender reassignment, without any medical health reason, therefore, only for the purposes of normalization. In the past several years, this has been prohibited in many countries because it represents violation of basic human rights, but it is still performed in our country. It is not spoken about, but it is performed. And why would anyone change someone’s body by force if that body is completely functional? Only so that it can be easily normalized. Even parents who don’t want their children to be subjected to such procedures are witnessing the pressures that doctors and hospitals put on them, the pressures their family puts on them, the pressures of the environment, and in the end, they are forced to allow those surgical corrections. A child is born with genitalia which do not fit into the gender standard and the parents are asked for permission to perform a surgery. Doctors advise them not to speak about it to their family and friends; they advise that this should be done in peace and quiet. Some parents are already educated about this and don’t want to agree to it, but then they are faced with threats and pressures, they are faced with social services which threat to take the child away from them. Thanks to the binary standard, a child that is born and has no health problems becomes a person who has health problems because it is condemned to lifetime hormonal therapy, or has different urological issues or psychological issues thanks to everything it was put through in childhood. Sex is spectrum, just like gender is spectrum, but the dominant system has naturalized this binary division so much, that people are not capable of thinking outside of it. We cannot avoid this binary division in language. And Serbian is very inconvenient for avoidance of gender.

 

NG: What solutions or practical changes can be applied in fight against transphobia?

AM: I personally think that for starting point it would be most beneficial to change legal framework. If we adopted good laws, which would of course be applied, we would see some changes. Likewise, this would automatically impact all other institutions. Now, not only do we not have educational programs on transgenderness in our educational system, but we are only working on educating people who are employed in the education system. Likewise, we are also working on educating the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, on educating healthcare workers, because they do not know how to approach transgender people, they do not know which problems transgender people are experiencing. Activist organizations are working on educating healthcare workers, the police, all those state services that perforate transphobia that already exists in society. And the educational system itself is discriminative. I have recently read in newspapers about the teacher who, after the party thrown by 9-years old children, sent the boys home and left the girl clean the classroom. The teacher is teaching the children about gender division of work. How would a transgender child feel in such an environment or a child which is not transgender, but has learned at home that gender division of work is discriminatory and unjustified?

It is very hard to penetrate and get to the point where education can be accessed within the education system. Not only for employees but also for children. Institutions are fighting against this type of education.

If, as a beginning, we  work on this amendment to the law and harmonization of the legal framework, then other institutions, such as: educational, medical, and religious would first have to respect that law, which would automatically decrease discrimination under condition that law is applied. And I believe that media are extremely important for general changes in society in a broader sense, i.e. not only within the framework of institutions. If the media showed a positive attitude towards LGBT people, the situation would change. The media play a significant role not only in spreading the visibility of transgender persons and their life stories, but also in spreading the discrimination depending on how they report.

Here in Serbia, radical feminism is very popular, which is very often transphobic, and excludes transgender women from this story.

In fact, this is all connected, but what other changes could contribute to lowering the discrimination against minority groups? Well, in my opinion, it is also the association of all these different organizations, not only transgender organizations but other organizations as well. Cooperation of organizations that deal with LGBT problem is common, they frequently associate with each other, but if these organizations were to connect with other minority organizations, for example with Roma organization, organization of persons with disabilities, etc. and if minorities were to be empowered, then we would have a higher chance to lower the discrimination, we could create a critical mass of people who can actually make a difference. Therefore, we should support each other.

 

NG: What I notice is that people don’t see the discrimination against them.

AM: The most obvious example is that women most often don’t notice sexism and misogyny, they don’t notice the discrimination they are exposed to in the society simply because social norms are so naturalized that we don’t even notice that they are construed and imposed. I did not notice discrimination for a long time, but I do notice that now because I am involved in activism and it is my responsibility, so I know what it means, but it does not always bother me, which it should. Sometimes it does not bother me because I am used to it, it is like something that God has given, somebody can come and wisecrack about my looks or the way I express myself in masculine gender, but in fact I don’t pay too much attention to it because I don’t have the strength to be annoyed. For example, I had an experience with the healthcare system, somebody made a joke and if I weren’t living in Serbia and if there were some legal framework, I could file a complaint, but here and now I don’t have anyone to report this to. I believe that nobody has the right to laugh at me because I am different from the majority, but I will move on because I know that I don’t have any grounds for a lawsuit, and since there is no protection I would only waste my time, so therefore it is better not to stress out, I simply smile and that’s it.

NG: You talked about the moment when the process starts. If the process starts before puberty, it is better, because it will be more natural.

AM: Now, this is a separate story. Laws of different countries treat this differently, in some this is allowed only after puberty and in others it is allowed to use hormone blockers which are taken before puberty, there are different regulations. It would be ideal if the persons could decide on their own about their bodies and what they want or don’t want. And the very procedure that people undergo is normalizing; doctors perform sex and gender normalization through those surgeries. That is why they perform forced sterilization, because if one transgender man does not remove his reproductive organs, he can stop taking the testosterone and can one day give birth to a child. This is unimaginable for all those who are still holding to the binary sex and gender standard, this is an attack to the imposed boundaries of the system.

 

NG: This is very fascist; the Nazis in the WWII forcefully sterilized the Jews. I believe there are medical procedures that would enable to have offspring, but then we come to the point that you are not allowed to have offspring because you are transgender.

AM: Doctors do it under the veil of protecting the health of the patients, but there is no serious medical study that proves that there is a risk to health if the reproductive organs aren’t removed, therefore, there is no reference which the healthcare system of a country could call upon and explain why those forced sterilizations were necessary. They don’t have the arguments that are valid. What they say is: ‘Well, you know, if we don’t remove your reproductive organs, there is a possibility of getting cancer. But there is no study that would justify this. The entire process of gender reassignment is standardized in such a way so that the person fits into this binary model. Maybe somebody only wants to take hormones and change the name, maybe they don’t want to change anything on their bodies, but in our country a person who does not go through the entire process cannot change their documents, so they are conditioned with surgeries.

 

NG: Do you have anything more to add?

AM: Let’s just reflect on the topic of a revolutionary subject. I often encounter people who are not from the LGBT story and who are outside of it all, and a lot of them listen about how transgender people live their lives with some kind of excitement, they somehow find it fascinating. In those situations I actually realize that in a way I am doing a very important thing, even if I weren’t an activist and writing about it, for starts, in a way I have an impact on the opinions of a very narrow circle of people, my friends know the whole story and they will tell it to their friends, so the circle expands. This is certainly much better than if I had stayed living and hiding my identity, it would have been so hard for me, much harder than it is now if no one knew about it. So, in a way, I am living my own small revolution. Although I maybe don’t have the potential, strength and possibilities to contribute to a bigger change, I believe that in their micro-surroundings, each transgender person carries out a mini-revolution, because, before anything else, they show that gender is not binary and that a person can live outside of these boxes that the society imposes on us. If a person has the strength to change their sex and their body, why then a woman who is experiencing discrimination based on her gender and sex would not stand up to it, why wouldn’t she be able to say hey, I don’t have to clean and cook for everybody, I can share the everyday jobs with my inmates, and I shouldn’t be the only one who is a slave of the so called female chores and gender division of work. We all learn from each other and therefore other minorities should learn from us, just like we learn from other minorities.

 

NG: It is always the case that you do something and leave behind to make it easier for others.

AM: One of the dearest things that happened to me over the years was when I met a boyfriend of my friend who warned me that he was a good guy, but that he was somewhat a right-winger. So we set and started talking and, of course, he asked me questions regarding transgenderness, and my friend was uncomfortable because she worried about would come out of it, but I purposely wanted to talk to him because I saw that the guy wasn’t violent and that he wouldn’t swear at me, so we talked about it for two or three hours, and at the end of our conversation, his question was if I could give him some advice on what he should do if his child were to be born as transgender or gay. This was perfect for me, an excellent end to the conversation. Simply, the man listened and realized that LGBT problem is not something that is somewhere out there outside of his household and family, but rather that it is something that can one day be a part of his life, a part of his family. And he wants to deal with it in the right way, he wants to know how to help his child, which I found to be amazing.

What really bothers me are the people who listen to me and think that what happens to me can never happen to them, and they don’t even realize that one day they can fall in love with a transgender person, have a baby which is transgender and that this may become a part of everybody’s life. Why then avoid talking about it or ignoring it, and why discriminate?

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.