Installment 3 of 5
Identity: I’m a Transmale dragqueen!
If you are not from Stockholm, do you see a difference between Stockholm and your hometown in regards to queer or trans acceptance?
Right now I live in Copenhagen, there’s a very big difference. Denmark right now is going through extreme conservative times, and the LGBT organization of Denmark just accepted trans people in the organization two years ago, and are generally not doing anything about it. There are some trans people in the organization who try, but they are being bullied by the people who are in the organization already, so there’s a big difference. In society in general the laws are just fucked up, basically, and there are no rights. Even though there are problems in Sweden, and in Stockholm, you still have the feeling that it’s possible to make them better, and it’s getting better.
Do you feel equally represented in the queer community in Copenhagen as a trans person?
In the queer community- it depends on how you define “queer community.” I think in Scandinavia maybe it differs between the mainstream LGBT organizations and the queer communities, which is more a political thing. In the political queer scene of Copenhagen I do feel represented, and the talk about trans issues is being taken serious, but in the mainstream LGBT community I feel a big black hole of nothing. Or maybe even negative.
Do you feel that it is easy to be accepted culturally as a trans person in Denmark?
When I talk to people it really differs. There’s very little trans awareness in society in general, and because of political things, it makes your position not really a possibility in people’s brains. If I say to people that I’m trans, they would typically ask me if they meet me in five years if I would have a woman’s name and wear women’s clothes because they think that the only trans possibility is transfemale. It’s kind of strange. If I wanted to be a female, I would try to dress a certain way, and the way I dress in my every day life is not feminine at all. I came out as trans when I used to work as a teacher, and when I got hired there, I got hired as a woman and I came out as trans at the workplace, and it was a really horrible experience. I would have all these border-crossing questions and some people just stopped talking to me. Some people were also really nice and good about it, but they weren’t really showing solidarity when bad stuff happened. I ended up quitting my job because of some of those things. From what I hear, all the trans people I know in Denmark who come out at their workplace, they end up getting fired or shifting jobs because of it. I don’t know anyone who came out at their job who is still at the same job. So I guess that’s a no, it’s not easy.
Are you happy with the medical and/or psychological system in Denmark for trans people?
To even talk about a system is maybe exaggerated. Because there are no trans laws in Denmark whatsoever, there’s only a castration law for mental patients from 1932, these race laws from the 30′s, means that if you can find a doctor within the normal legal medical system that wants to treat you, they are allowed to do so without you having a diagnosis. They are allowed to give you hormone treatment, for instance, but most doctors won’t do that. There is a gender clinic that had the monopoly of doing these treatments, but they’re being criticized right now. There’s going to be an election in Denmark before November. Right now it’s a conservative government and it looks like they’re going to fall, and the left wing government that’s going to take their place has promised to make changes in these things, but the way the clinic works right now is that they let five people through a year. That’s of a population of five and a half million people in the country. To get accepted in their system- they haven’t done any research in the last 30 years, they don’t do research, and they’re really extremely critical when you go to therapy. You have to go to at least two years of therapy just to be accepted there. In almost every aspect of your life in Denmark, when you’re 18 you’re seen as grown up and able to make decisions about your life, but on this issue, they don’t accept anybody below age 22 or 23. You have to live up to a very gender stereotypical way of living your life, like if you’re transmute, you want to be with a cisgender female, you want to be having kids and a family, and you want your sexuality to be where you’re the active part and your partner is the passive part, and you want to hate your body, but not too much, in a very certain way, and they talk about how you masturbate and what toys you were playing with as a kid. In a way, most cisgender people of Denmark wouldn’t even pass their test for gender. I never went there because I know that that’s the system and I know that I would have to lie so much that I would fail anyway. I just didn’t give a shit. So every trans male I know in Denmark, and almost every trans female I know in Denmark are doing everything outside of the system and paying for their own medical treatment with private doctors.
Maybe this is a bit redundant, but is there anything you’d like to see change socially or politically regarding trans issues in Denmark?
About everything, I think. I mean, there was just this European Standard for Trans People thing, where they measured how accessible the system was and how easy it was to get recognized and what kind of treatment was there in different countries within the European Union, and Denmark was like, rock bottom. Some of the new EU countries from the East block are at the same level of fucked up, but Denmark is one of the most fucked up countries. Of course you have the possibility, because you are a citizen of the European Union to travel between the countries, and coming from Denmark you have a lot of privilege in that sense, but you do have you leave your country if you want a decent treatment. It looks like the new government are going to change things, but they’re not going to take away this “You are mentally ill” stigma from the diagnosis, but they are going to make some changes. Also, because the system accepts that few people in Denmark, if you get accepted you also have to get your operations within Denmark. When you have doctors who do FTM chest surgery maybe once a year, you can see that they’re not good at it. And when they do genital surgery of transmales, I mean, it’s horrific what they do. They fuck up people big time. Even if I got accepted into the system I wouldn’t want to have my operations in Denmark. Some of the left-wing politicians are starting to talk about opening up and working together with some of the neighboring Scandinavian countries. The people who get gender surgery from Norway get sent to Linköping in Sweden because they do accept in Norway that they are not good enough at it, so instead of training doctors in Norway to do it, they just ship people to Sweden and the Danish government are thinking about doing that, too. To do it as a common Scandinavian thing, which I think is a good thing too, because they’re small countries and the Scandinavian languages are so close to each other that it does make sense.