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CHECK Berlin/Brandenburg #6

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TRANS* ENGLISH DEAD

TRANS* ENGLISH DEAD NAMES, HARRY POTTER AND EMPOWERMENT FROM EVERYDAY LIFE AT THE TRANS* COUNSELING IN LÜNEBURG Interview: Torsten Schwick As part of the Queer Checkpoint in Lüneburg, the Trans*Beratung has advised on trans topics since 2014. We spoke to Daniel Masch, Ph.D., who is also trans* himself and runs the counseling center. What are the most common questions from your clients? There are basically two major areas: On the one hand, they are looking for information on the transition itself. Not only from a medical perspective, but also on the legal transition, for example, with questions such as, “How can I change my name or civil status?” And then there are social transition issues, “What can I do to ‘pass’ better?” The other area is the psychosocial hurdles. It is about outing or relationship support in the form of family counseling, partnership or couples counseling. We also support relatives and associated people. What problems arise when someone in a partnership comes out as trans*? It is often the case that relatives don’t know what it actually means. We help develop strategies to manage the process better, we help to find ways to to accompany and support your partner during the transition. It requires a lot of self-exploration and examination in all areas of the partnership. What kind of advice do you give in this situation? If your partner changes their gender expression, the first reaction is often: I‘m actually into the opposite sex. What are we doing now? After this initial wave of emotions, the person has to ask themselves: How much do I really Daniel Masch, Ph.D Head of Trans* Beratung like you and how much do I like your body? How much of your love is for the real person? Just see for yourself day by day. The changes don‘t happen overnight, but very slowly. What about issues within the LGBTQI* community? Of course, there are also problems in the rainbow community. For example, we have gay trans* men who have questions about sexual health. Or they want to know how to get into the scene, how to assert themselves there, for example if no genital adjustment operation is desired or has not yet taken place. There are also many political issues, such as: “Can I still like Harry Potter?” This is a hot topic because a lot of people are fans and they totally enjoy simply immersing themselves in the Harry Potter world. And then the author starts making comments that are transphobic. Some fans just don‘t know anymore whether they 80 CHECK BERLIN/BRANDENBURG #6

TRANS* Photo: Lena Balk_unsplash.com should still engage with and support the Harry Potter books. How do you rate the public debate about gender diversity? I think it‘s important the media discusses the topics. I have also seen what a great empowering effect good reporting has on people. There are people who are now sixty years old who come to my counseling and tell me how nice it is that the world has changed so much and that there is now so much knowledge. They finally dare to become themselves and that‘s great. At the same time, it would be nice if things happened less excitedly and if we didn‘t always use all the clichés. So typical headlines like: „This is Torsten, who now wants to be called Luisa!“ Certain narratives that are tough for the community are reproduced over and over again. For example the question about the old name. In the community, the old name is also called „Dead Name“. If I now say, for example, my “TRANS* AND NON-BINARY PEO- PLE SHOW OTHERS HOW IMPORT- ANT IT IS TO RESPECT AND PRO- MOTE INDIVIDUALITY. THAT HELPS EVERYONE, BECAUSE EVERYONE IS SOMEHOW DIFFERENT. name was once Kathrin, then people look at you and try to find Kathrin. It‘s just weird and uncomfortable. It is standard in the media that the Dead Name is always mentioned first. Unfortunately, it signals that when you meet a trans* person, the first thing you can ask is the old name. That is absolutely not conducive to advance trans* rights. We always talk about the problems. What positive experiences and observations do you have in your work? Even if a transition is a rocky and often difficult road, people learn a lot about themselves and their identity, goals and needs. Through this intensive examination of myself, I can often better assess my path in life and learn to walk. Those who do not have to deal with themselves that much like to avoid such existential issues and may not find their own way so surely. This confrontation can be extremely powerful and liberating. In addition, trans* and non-binary people show others how important it is to respect and promote individuality. That helps everyone, because everyone is somehow different. (ts,sw) Trans*LG Beim Holzberg 1, 21337 Lüneburg Tel. 04131 99 49 359 TransLG@checkpoint-queer.de www.checkpoint-queer.de CHECK BERLIN/BRANDENBURG #6 81

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blu, hinnerk, gab, rik, Leo – die Magazine der blu Mediengruppe erscheinen monatlich in den Metropolen Deutschlands. Die nationale Reichweite der Magazine ermöglicht den reisefreudigen Lesern Zugriff auf alle Informationen immer und überall. Themenschwerpunkte sind neben der regionalen queeren Szene, Kultur, Wellness, Design, Mode und Reise. Unsere Titel sind mit der lokalen Community jahrzehntelang gewachsen und eng verbunden, was durch Medienpartnerschaften mit den CSD-Paraden in Hamburg, Berlin, München und Frankfurt sowie zahlreiche Kooperationen, wie der Christmas Avenue in Köln, seinen Ausdruck findet.