Mani queerunha 2008

In the debate triggered by the PSOE's trans- and queerphobic discussion document, queer people are being made invisible, and part of the trans movement and the PSOE are joining in queerphobia.

The PSOE's argument "against theories that deny the reality of women", published on 9 June, is not only transphobic, but also, and above all, queerphobic, and clearly points to both queer activism and queer theory as enemies. However, almost all public debate since then has focused on the right to self-determination of gender identity of trans people, especially trans women. With few exceptions, especially in El Salto, both queer activism and queer people are completely invisibilised, and queer theory is barely spoken about. Above all, part of the trans movement, possibly for "tactical" reasons, dissociates itself from queer activism and theory as being a "minority".

But not only are trans people not a theory (a rather binary campaign by the Association of Transsexuals of Andalusia), neither are queer, genderqueer, nonbinary, gender fluid, agender, or many other gender identities that do not fit into the binary gender system. And although we are not a theory, many of us do identify with both queer activism and queer theory, the new enemy that the vast majority know little about, though they talk a lot about.

As a genderqueer person, this scares me. I am worried that, if a right to self-determination of gender identity is finally achieved, this right will be limited to choosing between the two binary options of male and female. I base this on my own experience with the law of Andalusia, often celebrated as "advanced" and exemplary. Although this law includes such a right, it took me four years and three attempts, two of them with the intervention of the Andalusian Ombudsman, to get the Andalusian Health Service to recognise me as a nonbinary person ('indeterminate' sex). And so far the police (foreigners office) refuses to recognise me with my gender identity recognised in the passport of my country of origin (with an 'X' in the sex field), thus changing my sex/gender without my consent.

I understand well and share the anger especially of trans women. The arguments in the PSOE document are ridiculous, with little basis in reality, and even less empathy for trans people/women (queers do not exist in the PSOE document). It sounds completely hollow when the PSOE says at the end of its argument, after four pages of attacks on trans women, that "[f]rom the Socialist Party we express our consideration and respect for trans people and our commitment to provide coverage and legal security for their needs." How? Where is the respect when you deny trans (and queer) people the right to self-determination of their identity?

I share the anger of trans women at the questioning of our existence, of our right to define ourselves and to determine our own gender identity, without psychological reports, without the need for hormonal treatment or genital surgery, without anyone being able to deny us who we are. I share the anger at the denial of our identity in identity documents, in every interaction with the authorities, where we are required to check the box 'man' or 'woman' depending on how the authority defines us. But it does not serve me to choose freely between these two boxes, since neither represents me. And where is the judicial security if now my country of origin has me as a 'nonbinary', the police as a 'man', Social Security as a 'woman' (and I was told that I could change every month between the two options) and the Andalusian Health Service as 'indeterminate'? Where is the judicial security when a police officer of the Foreigners Department can arbitrarily change my sex, without my consent, as they does not like the 'X' in the sex field? The right to self-determination of gender identity is of no use to me if it is limited to two binary gender options.

I share the anger of trans women at the complete ignorance of their daily reality. Trans-exclusionary feminism (TERF) - also queer-exclusionary - constructs risks where there are none, for example to deny trans people access to public toilets based on their gender identity, or to condition this access on approval by a 'gender police', who accredit you as 'woman' or 'man' based on psychological reports and hormonal treatment and sometimes genital surgery. This same 'gender police' often deny queer people, nonbinary people, access to hormonal treatment to change our bodies, since we do not want to go 'to the other side' of the binary, as my own experience with the Unit of Attention for Transsexual People in Andalusia shows, and I know from other nonbinary people that my case is not an isolated one.

And, for us, queer people, nonbinary people, there are no public toilets, no changing rooms, no services. Every time we need to use a public toilet we have to choose between the men's toilet (potentially exposing us to queerphobic harassment) or the women's toilet (potentially exposing us to accusations of harassment of women for using the wrong toilet). Many times I don't know which is the best option. Dressing rooms are out of the question. I can't go to public pools or gyms because there's nowhere to change. Where can I buy (and try on) clothes (I think it's ridiculous that clothes have a gender)? The solution to these problems is not to put in place a 'gender police', but to reorganise these spaces so that gender does not matter, and we can all be safe.

In this current debate, trans women have a voice, they are very visible. We, where are we? Where is the trans solidarity, the solidarity of the LGBT movement (which often does not even include the 'Q' in its acronym)? We insist on the right to self-determination of our gender identity, without 'gender policing' and without binary constraints. We insist on trans and queer-inclusive feminism, to fight together against cisheteropatriarchy. The future will be queer, or it won't be.