Friday, July 18, 2014

Bea*lin I(iv): Preliminary Field Notes

  1. In comparison to Chicago, I feel much safer and more at ease walking down the street and taking public transportation: at day, at night, with friends, alone.  Berlin welcomes diversity in a way that Chicago only does statistically, but one look at the incredibly segregated nature of its neighborhoods shows Chicago to be not as friendly as it should be.  Perhaps Mayor Rahm Emanuel should pay a visit to Germany.
  2. In Berlin I am reminding myself of the life rule I made for myself back in Argentina one morning last November while riding the subway on two hours of sleep:

    You find one thing that is beautiful about every person you see.

    In a city full of strangers, it is easy to revert back to first impressions and quick judgments.  But as a person whose identity and pronouns most often require further explanation, it would be far too hypocritical of me to only afford people four seconds of observation.
  3. The majority of the trans* people I have met thus far I have met through TrIQ, the organization with which I am working.  At back-to-back meetings with them tonight—first at their offices and then in a nearby biergarten—the vast range of gender expression and identity warmed me; it is like returning home for Christmas, only you’ve never met any of your family before this week and instead of filling you with stress and passive aggression they fill you with simple understanding.
  4. Also like Christmas: I went to see a screening of a short documentary last night at a bar/cafĂ© that serves predominantly queer and trans* people.  The most refreshing part for me was to see not only so many people, but especially so many older people.  I sometimes think (let’s be honest, worry) about how the aging process will affect my ability to pass (again, against it politically, but sometimes necessary for safety’s sake).  And after studying so many depressing facts about limited access to adequate health care and HIV rates and transphobic violence and average life expectancy, it was encouraging to see people who have survived the overwhelming odds stacked against them for that much longer and still come out looking fabulous.
    4b. Y
    ou KNOW I’m gonna be one bedazzled octogenarian come 2072.
  5. I may for the first time in my life believe in love at first sight.  Or something similar. More to follow soon, I hope.
  6. I already have my first few interviews for my research lined up, and a week and a half ahead of schedule!  It’s too bad I’m here for so brief a time; Berlin seems like a place to stay.

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