Wit Kania: Let’s start with a ‘run-through’ to outline the context. Maybe it’s purely my experience, but given that it’s been almost 30 years since the introduction of the so-called ‘abortion compromise’ (which is, in practice, a total ban on abortion and a radical change in access to it), nowadays, in order to talk about abortion and pro-abortion activism, as well as aiding abortions, you have to somehow come out against the discursive mainstream.
Can you tell me a bit about your history towards saying ‘abortion is ok’ and ‘I help with abortions’? The path to your abortion activism. How did that come about?
Ali: My first thoughts on ‘hey, maybe I can do something in this area’ appeared when my sister had unprotected sex. As she was underage, she couldn’t get herself to a gynaecologist or any other physician to get a prescription for the ‘morning-after’ pill. In theory, this was still before the ruling of the Tribunal [Constitutional Tribunal – author’s note] so before all the e-prescription sites weren’t even widely known. So I was just going from one doctor to another in a small town, where everyone knew me, saying that I needed the morning-after pill. And that alone traumatised me so eminently, because literally everyone – from the gynaecologists, even one paediatrician (who literally knew me all my life, because I was visiting him with all sorts of health issues) – I’ve heard that ‘since you’re a slutty whore, you need to give birth’ and things of that nature. And literally, there wasn’t a person who didn’t suggest to me that I was ‘a goer’ or that this was my punishment for having sex at all, like I had the audacity to have sex.
Somehow these situations didn’t affect me that much because, let’s say, they didn’t concern me personally. I had it in my head all the time that ‘it wasn’t me who had done something wrong’ and ‘no one was able to make me believe I had done something bad’, because it was neither about me, nor in my name. It was kind of like a water off a duck’s back to me, but it allowed me to gain a first-hand perspective of the fact that even with the morning-after pill, it’s very difficult and that there’s a huge stigma attached to it.
That’s when I started to do a bit of activism as ‘that adult who can get a prescription for someone and go to a physician’ if any of my friends needed it. And, in fact, all my activism, whether the queer one, or the pro-abortion one, or whatever, started at the moment the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal. Let’s just say that that’s when I got fed up and decided that I wanted to do something, to act – it didn’t matter what way anymore, just whatever it takes.
It started with attending the protests, which were still happening every day at the time.
I participated every day until I just physically couldn’t cope anymore and I only really stopped attending when one day I came home and passed out from fatigue. It was a moment when I simultaneously woke up and burned out straight away. On one hand it was incredibly uplifting to see such crowds on the streets, in contrast to other protests I’ve been participating in before, but at the same time it was completely exhausting, since it was a daily activity – whether it was placing posters or protesting or whatever. I also have the feeling that at the beginning nobody prepared us for the fact that ‘hey, maybe not all at once and not at the cost of all our strength’; that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and that if I get too eager at the beginning, I won’t have the strength any power on’. And then I switched to running an Instagram account exclusively, but there was also a moment, after the protests, when I started to connect with people acting for increasing the access to abortion. It started with engaging with activist collectives1.
I think my abortion activism as aiding abortion is only really starting now. I believe that I just began getting to know other persons in the [activist] community, because before that I had a sense of disconnection from it. In terms of actually supporting and aiding specific people, I think that’s just starting and I’m totally going to grow in that direction. But still, the truth is that I’ve been talking about abortion, whether it’s among my friends or just on my Instagram account since I’ve been active in this area. All the time I emphasise that it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s also an issue of transmasculine or non-binary persons’, because that’s what I feel was missing the entire time, also in the abortion discourse.
You’ve just mentioned ‘the community’. What do you mean by that?
I think, or at least that’s how I felt for some time, that there are plenty of activists who act in the area of the access to abortion and these are groups such as ‘Aborcyjny Dream Team’ [ENG Abortion Dream Team], though I’ve never knew those people personally. I have felt as if I was someone who does something – I talk about it, I know how to advise or to get the pills. That’s not the issue. I also had a feeling that I’m somehow detached from this whole activist network, because I don’t actually know anyone and I’m just some sort of a ‘random’ person who draws on their knowledge without actively contributing to the cause.
OK. I was asking, since when you’ve mentioned ‘the community’, I wanted to specify whether you mean the activist community, or, for example queer persons. I think it’s very important that you talk about your activism on Instagram. I don’t want to get tediously long-winded, but my impression is that when it comes to gender diverse persons2, a lot of them are the ‘audience’ of social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok. From what I hear, you have a large follower base that is constantly growing. How do you assess your experience so far with discussions about abortion, sexual and reproductive rights, with gender diverse people in Poland, including among your friends and, more broadly, with the queer community?
It seems to me that since the verdict of the Tribunal, I don’t remember ever having a discussion with queer people where the full right to abortion would be challenged. I also feel like I’ve just been quite radical in expressing my views on abortion access, whether it’s among friends or on Instagram. I think it also normalises things a bit and takes off the self-stigma surrounding abortion. At the same time, I think maybe those people who aren’t fully convinced are a bit put off by it, because I really haven’t had a lot of really serious discussions. Perhaps they are just quietly observing and wondering about it? Because the only discussions I’ve had and continue to have are already with people like Kaja Szulczewska or persons with similar views3. In terms of online discussions, I tend to argue more with the haters, the TERFs or the right-wing supporter than with my own community. It’s a widely known fact that there are several queer people who are more conservative, but to be honest, I think it similar people tend to pull towards one another, so I’m surrounded by a community which shares common values with me.
Thanks. What you know say about TERFism is important. Since a couple of years, or rather a bit before that, we can observe a significant rise in the visibility of TERFism in the Polish side of the Internet, as well as in the feminist environment. What do you think are your strategies in coping with arguments of such persons, specifically in the context of abortion?
I think that once the discussion about abortion after the verdict started to burst, it was then that TERFism really started to become recognisable in the Polish side of the Internet. Since the beginning, I’m convinced these are the kind of fights that are impossible to win, especially in terms of such arguments as ‘only women have abortions, because only a women can have a uterus’ – there’s literally no space for a discussion, it’s like throwing various arguments at each other. One person claims ‘yes, other people may also have abortions’, while the other states ‘only women can do so’ . It’s a bit like bouncing back and forth with different claims and there is nothing to undermine. One can repeatedly say all those things, but it’s really just a flip-flopping on arguments. I have also always been irritated by this in the context of women and fem persons who cannot get pregnant and that they are being excluded. Femininity is taken away from people who are, for example, infertile. It is a bit hard to keep discussing…at the beginning I actually tried to somehow debunk those arguments, but now the longer I am an activist, the more tiring it gets. It is, I believe, unproductive at times, as I get the feeling more and more that some persons are locked inside their bubble. A bit like us, but without any openness to accept the reasons of the other side. And actually, in the beginning, I tried very hard to make these discussions substantive, especially when it was pointed out whether to me or my friends that ‘we are aggressive’ etc. Well, but how much can one do? It seems to me that the terfs haven’t found any new arguments to work on all this time either. It’s just repeating the same, same, same thing over and over again. Sometimes I feel that it is just better to leave the person and wave it off. It is good to be aware of the problem, but it seems to me that at the moment it is not so serious or threatening in Poland, for example in terms of access to abortion.
For me, this is also what queer abortion solidarity is about. For a while, I was under the impression that only transgender activists were mentioning that it’s necessary not to say that only women need abortion. For me, abortion solidarity should be exactly about that, that we don’t forget about or leave behind any person who might need an abortion. But it seems to me that, despite everything, I’ve lost a bit of my strength to debate with the terfs. After two years of repeating the same argument and seeing that my existence is erased over and over again, I’m a little bit out of it already, because it’s all about repeatedly mentioning ‘I exist too’ and, in the end, I’m erased and left out of the picture anyway.
So it could be called a kind of Sisyphean work?
Yes. I think it’s worth continuing to discuss or untangle these arguments, since it’s not just them reading it. I believe it won’t reach them by itself. It seems to me, as I know Kaja personally (because I was friends with her for a while) as well as a few other persons from there, and I’m acquainted with the fact that these people are so fixated on being right that even if they realise that it’s not quite so, they would rather disappear from the internet than admit it. There is a level of pride which makes it impossible for one to endure such failure. And I feel that fighting the terfs is absolutely a Sisyphean job that I don’t even want to undertake. However, articles that work out these arguments are super valuable, because they can reach persons who haven’t yet formed their opinion on the matter, and are therefore not radicalised towards the ‘terfy’ side. I very much appreciate what persons such as Maja Heban, or others, are doing on the subject of addressing these claims. On the other hand, I constantly get the feeling that the ‘terfy’ arguments don’t change, therefore all that was supposed to debunk them was already written, which makes it pointless to attempt to create something new that addresses the same issue all over again. I’m getting a bit tired of repeatedly hearing that ‘if you can get pregnant, you’re a woman’. Well, no – it’s just the same thing over and over again.
I hear what you are saying. I was captivated by something in your last statement that I thought was very significant, which is the erasure of existence. As it was very important for me to embed this interview in the social context in which we function, I feel the need to focus on queer solidarity in the first place. It occurs to me that you’re ahead of my question, but how would you describe queer solidarity within the gender-diverse community at the moment, particularly in the area of mutual aid in face of what you’ve just mentioned, which is the erasure of existence?
For me it is, above all, to emphasise all the time that not only women can have abortions – both in the general discussion, but also in case of the protests and slogans that were present in the Parliament at the beginning. Initially, it was very common to exclaim statements such as ‘Poland is a woman’, but then a few people picked that up and replaced it with ‘revolution has a uterus’. To me it’s also about the fact that not inclusivity should be present only in the discussion, but also the slogans that appear on the streets. Sure, I can constantly highlight that ‘X, Y, Z’, ‘it’s not just women who have abortions’ and so on and so forth all the time, in discussions or on Instagram, yet if we’re only talking about women during the protests and generally in the mainstream in general, it doesn’t change anything at all. For me it’s also about being sensitive to even the smallest things, such as bringing trans-, rainbow or non-binary flags to abortion protests. Besides the fact that abortion is also an issue for transgender and non-binary people, this very much applies to queer women as well. In my opinion, including these persons, making spaces for them and presenting oneself, even at protests, are very important steps that prevent our erasure, because I feel that sometimes it really easy to forget about it. Sure, it’s not so statistically common and I suspect it doesn’t happen often, but still we can’t forget about queer persons. It seems to me that this is also important in the context of the legislation – if we manage to change the abortion law, there is an issue of including the transmasculine who have changed their gender marker4, as well as other persons with uteruses in general, not just women. As you know, testosterone5 is not a guarantee of not getting pregnant. What’s important to me is that it doesn’t eventually turn out that manage to win some rights for ourselves, but end up forgetting about part of the community….
A very important part of the community.
…I have it in my mind that if we keep ignoring the fact that transgender people also need abortions, I’m afraid that we could really end up pushing through a law which resembles ‘Legal abortion without compromises’, but with the phrase ‘women’ and we’d realise that ‘hey, we forgot about someone’. So for me it’s also about not forgetting. I can understand that cisgender women who are dealing with the topic of abortion might overlook a couple of things in action, well, because if you only work with women, you have only them in your mind. It seems to me that it is the responsibility of the queer community to keep reminding about themselves. Of course, it’s not that I’m placing all the responsibility on the community in the spirit of ‘if you don’t say you’re there, people have the right not to remember’, but that it’s worth making our presence every time and wherever we go.
I hear that you’re talking about increasing the visibility in the broader sense, as well as about activities undertaken by gender-diverse folks that are targeted at a wider audience, mainly cisgender people. I have a question, though, how do you understand mutual aid among gender-diverse people, primarily in the context of supporting each other in abortions?
It seems to me that, all in all, there are no differences when it comes to supporting gender-diverse people versus supporting others. The principles and procedures are the same, I just feel that the only issue concerns sensitivity or maybe a different level of sensitivity. Apart from the fact that abortions can be really unpleasant, whether because of the social stigma or other various factors. Then there is the issue of gender dysphoria and the fact that both pregnancy and the abortion can be very triggering experiences. It’s crucial for gender-diverse people to also be active when it comes to aiding abortions, because (among other things) it is easier to support a person if you understand their experience. I believe (at least when I’m supporting a friend) it’s a different level of comprehension when I know what it’s like to have gender dysphoria and I have a grasp of this feeling; I suppose it would be different if it was my cisgender friend in the role of the supporter, since she does not get this context.
Again, I believe it’s about how having gone through similar leads to more sensitivity and openness. In order to increase the awareness, it’s important that there are also gender-diverse people in the supporting roles within the community.
As you were speaking, I was reminded of a slogan that has come up very often both at protests and in activism, but somehow I’m really fond of it: ‘nothing about us without us’. Just to add to the topic of gender-diverse people.
Yes, I very much appreciate how cisgender women activists in the abortion field are speaking up and remembering that trans and non-binary people exist too. It’s great, I find it very nice and cool that our presence is highlighted, but at the same time I need to hear the voices of trans people, if only simply talking about their experience. I think even like ADT [Abortion Dream Team] has a lot of experience in aiding abortions, such as therapists etc. I kind of need that from trans people and the queer community. I think the experiences are very similar, but have a different weight, because of, for instance, [gender] dysphoria and going through it differently. At least for many fellow queer persons who have had abortions, it’s been a very different experience, often more traumatic, but maybe that makes it all the more important to talk about it.
When you talked about abortion activists focusing on the access to abortion among cisgender women, the question of allyship came to mind. I wanted to ask you, in this regard, what advice on allyship would you give to ‘abortion friends’6 or cisgender activists working in favour of increasing access to abortion? How to be more inclusive in your practices? I don’t know if you’ll agree with me, but I initially thought about an intersectional-decolonising practice, namely giving voice, giving space.
Yes, above all, giving the space. It seems to me that by making those voices hard to hear (because of discrimination), it’s not even as much as giving a voice, but sometimes just actively trying to make that voice resound and granting it more visibility. I think, however, that experiences of cisgender women are still more audible and visible. I would go as far as stressing those stories [i.e. the stories of gender diverse people] more, giving them more weight, because they don’t normally have it. For me, another very strong concern is inclusive language. At a time of increased media attention to the topic of abortion, it was constantly ‘women, women, women’ everywhere, and my dysphoria was fucking me up the most in the world. Hearing phrases such as ‘women have abortions’ and ‘women something’ everywhere, going to protests and seeing slogans like ‘women got fucking enraged’, ‘women are discriminated’, emphasising that it’s all entirely about women, made me very frustrated, dysphoric and left me with a feeling that I was excluded and my commitment to the cause wasn’t visible. For me, it’s important to pay attention to the language and to make sure we remember it’s not just women, to talk about ‘people with uteruses’ or ‘people who can get pregnant’. If one absolutely wants to highlight the word ‘women’, well, that’s cool for me, but in the way that does not exclude other persons, e.g., ‘women and other people who can get pregnant’ or ‘women and other people with uteruses’. If we’re going to follow the TERF rhetoric about the erasure of women, sure, we can still talk about women, just add other people to the table as well. That’s incredibly relevant for me personally and makes me significantly less dysphoric. Once mainstream activism and media stopped portraying abortion as a ‘women’s issue’, the sole idea that ‘I may possibly have an abortion’, became way less triggering and dysphoric to me and other people. Similarly, I have the same feeling when I observe transgender fathers who give birth and post about it on Instagram. The birthing experience starts to seem more universal to me, rather than it being a strictly female matter, which makes it all less dysphoric for me.
I think you’re talking about one of the most important aspect concerning minority stress – gender dysphoria, which I don’t think many people can understand. Similar case is how language can, very logically, evoke strong unpleasant emotions. So you’re talking about sensitivity to language-related dysphoria, but you’ve also mentioned transgender fathers, which, for me at least, is a very emotive and moving subject…it just seems incredibly wholesome and uplifting….
…however, while we’re on this page, how would you rate the visibility of the topic of abortion and reproductive rights in Polish spaces for gender-diverse people? I might also interject that, at least from my perspective, it usually seemed to me that this visibility was low. If anything concerning gynaecology and reproductive issues appeared, it had little publicity. Of course, it is perfectly understandable to me that for some people these topics can be significantly dysphoric. On the other hand, maybe…I don’t know what you think, but we are kind of at a different stage of this discourse in Poland? We have to talk about very, very basic things like ‘we have right to proper health care’, and we haven’t yet got to discussions about parenting for gender diverse people. How do you see this issue and how would you rate its visibility?
I think it is unfortunately the case; this topic is not very visible, even in the area of gynaecological examinations which most transgender people neglect because of dysphoria. On the other hand, maybe it is a matter of the fact that large proportion of gynaecologists don’t understand the issue. In my experience, a gynaecological facility alone can already cause dysphoria – the interior being pink and marked with “FOR WOMEN” in literally every corner.
Oh, and this cliché silhouette of a pregnant women painted all over the walls, obviously pink, obviously with long hair [laughs].
Yes, in my case, the very visit to the OB-GYN office is immediately dysphoric, not to mention that the examination itself is often so too. It can trigger dysphoria and I understand that people have the right to avoid it, only that it is quite problematic. First, we are not moving forward with the approach, and secondly, I feel that a large part of the community does not know that taking hormones [Hormone Replacement Therapy] is not equal to contraception. Here’s where huge gaps in sex education become apparent. Many times I came across the question of ‘Is it necessary to use contraception while on testosterone?’ It seems to me that we are currently somewhere behind with the discussion and education, so I don’t even think about bringing up the topic of parenthood. Parenthood comes up from time to time, but I feel that it is somehow incredibly controversial and immediately triggers a million disputes.
It’s also often that I observe a strictly medicalising approach in the community, i.e. ‘What do you mean, you don’t have a problem with having a baby?’ or ‘How would you possibly like to be pregnant and have a baby?’. The very fact that this is somehow contradictory to some people also makes them question the person’s gender identity, ‘Well, if you’re able to get pregnant and have a baby, and you don’t have much of a problem with it, then why do you need the hormones at all, why do you even need all this stuff?’. I think it’s all the more important to highlight these issues – if we as a community are so far behind in this discussion, what about the mainstream? It seems to me that even if we don’t talk about abortion per se in the context of transgender people, just the existence of the phrase ‘people with uteruses’ already lies a ground for reflection and increases our visibility. I think language is super important, both for the sake of reducing dysphoria, and making cisgender people aware that the topic exists.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and experiences. It occurred to me that what you just mentioned seems to be the aftermath of transmedicalism, which is still very much prevalent, just like internalised transphobia – to paraphrase what you said ‘what do you mean you don’t have a problem with giving birth if you’re a man?’. Those two identities [gestational parent and a man], according to some, is still mutually exclusive. I’m going to come back to the topic of allyship now, because it occurred to me that it would be valuable to discuss guidelines for specialists – not just doctors (because that’s still a bit tough), but also persons e who might work somewhere in the area of gender affirming care, i.e. psychotherapists and psychologists. You’ve mentioned language, talking about this topic, but maybe there’s something else they can do as well? What do you think kind of allyship would be most useful in this environment?
First and foremost: education, updating one’s knowledge and not forcing binary norms on anyone. I have a feeling that some psychologists or therapists, even if they’re generally accepting and supportive towards transgender folks, they would jump to slight hostility and questioning someone’s gender identity, once the topic of abortion or pregnancy/birthing in case of transmasculine person would appear. Because ‘well, dysphoria’ or ‘well, gender expression.’ Recently I’ve been talking about experiencing questioning of my gender identity by specialists as a non-binary (yet still transmasculine) person, due to things such as wearing a skirt to an appointment. I wish there was some education, but outside of the diagnostic criteria and strictly medical or psychological aspects, i.e. listening to gender-diverse voices and those who say that ‘As a transmasculine person, I can wear a skirt and be absolutely happy and comfy about it’. I also miss getting rid of the binary gender norms and perceiving reality outside of them. I think it slowly starts to happen when I speak with the specialists.
Can it be called a grassroots work and reducing one’s biases?
It seems to me that even as a gender-diverse community we have a lot of work to do in this area. We still produce voices such as ‘okay, but why should you put it on if it’s going to ruin your passing?’7. I think we’re still heavily embedded in binary norms, but also focusing on how people will perceive us, i.e. ‘maybe if I’m on hormones for three years and I grow a beard, I can wear a skirt because I’ll still be perceived as a man’. The right to free expression is taken away from people, especially before hormone therapy, and sometimes invalidates their dysphoria. For example, a person posts a picture of themselves on an online group for transgender people and complains that they have been misgendered8 in a shop, at the doctor’s or wherever, and then you can see comments like ‘Since you came there dressed like that, don’t be surprised that you are being misgendered, because you crearly look feminine. Why don’t you make an effort to change it?’. I perceive this as pressure within the community to give up their individual style in order fit in as much as possible within the cisgender-hetero norms that we have. From the top, even trans people very often don’t have those biases worked out, don’t feel comfortable with it and are still trying to fit into these norms, let alone specialists or society in general. We undermine ourselves a little bit sometimes.
Thanks for mentioning that, it seems very relevant to me. I hear about the grassroots work among specialists and allies, but you also say that we, as a community, have a lot of grassroots work to do among ourselves to move outside the binary norms that are associated with our reproductive and sexual health.
Yes, for me it’s that a lot of people are actively educating and trying to make the topic of gender diversity somehow visible, but we still have an awful lot to do ourselves in our community. That’s why it seems crucial to add such small things, even in the context of talking about abortion or childbirth etc. It’s super important to point that out all the time. Maybe some people don’t even realise or don’t have this topic in their head, and just marking it with phrases like ‘persons who can get pregnant’ gives you some kind of sticking point, even if only for the sake of reflection. This is already something.
We’re slowly heading towards the end. Do you have anything in mind that is important to you and which you’d like to add?
I hope that in the following years the visibility of the trans voices and experiences of abortion, childbirth or parenthood will increase. It seems to me that talking about one’s perspective when experiencing double discrimination or even multiple discrimination is all the more difficult. I very much hope that allies, precisely women with experience of abortion or abortion friends, will honour these voices and make them all the more visible. For me, the very fact that someone has the courage to speak up about their story deserves huge appreciation. A transgender person speaking about their experience alone will very often remain unheard. I believe, therefore, that it’s important not only to give space, but to amplify those voices and make them more visible.
I hope those things will happen of all the aforementioned levels simultaneously, since it sounds like something which has the greatest chance of success. When you were speaking about the voices, I got reminded of one of the first protests after the verdict of the Constitutional Tribunal. I remember it took place in front of the old town hall, when one person moved forward, introduced himself as a transgender man and spoke out loud that this issue is also his experience as he has a uterus and that it’s crucial that we speak about trans experiences. It really touched my heart to be honest, being an example of trans visibility. I have a feeling that, even if it was one voice, it could really spark interest in some people, followed by a reflection about the topic and that those voices very much exist.
Yes, my experience with attending the first protests with my friends was literally initiated by drawing between each other as to who was going to take the microphone this time and say ‘by the way, I’m trans and I might need an abortion too’. I had the impression that, especially during the first weeks of the protests, these voices were heard, because very many people from the Kraków community had the courage to take the microphone and speak about themselves, but it was still the community speaking up for themselves, not the general public remembering about us. It was only later that it somehow began to be more widely acknowledged. I was then asked several times to speak publicly from the perspective of a gender diverse person. For me, it’s that we as a community, even by taking the microphone and speaking up at the protests, were reminding people that we exist, that we are here, we are important and we are affected by the situation, too. Only then did the general public pick up on this. That’s why it’s really significant that the trans voices noticed and made visible, because they could get lost on their own.
I hear that it’s about what you’ve said at the beginning, that is queer voices and what’s happening in the mainstream pro-abortion activism. In light of this, do you think that something has changed in the mainstream in scope of visibility of abortion in gender-diverse community since that time?
Depends what we perceive as a mainstream, but I think a lot has changed. Even some of the press coverages mentioned ‘persons with uteruses’ or ‘persons who can get pregnant’, so I think that the difference is huge. Let me give a comparative example – when I attended a protest in Kraków two years ago it was all about ‘women, women, women’, but when I participated in a protest in similar cause a year later (I guess it was an anniversary of the first manifestation), there was literally only one speech in which ‘persons with uteruses’ were not mentioned. It was a speech given by a representative of a young wing of the Civic Platform party9 [laughs]. So I think it really fucking sank in the mainstream and when I hear all those speeches, I feel acknowledged and included. That’s a really nice feeling.
That’s actually really encouraging. To be frank, I like to finish interviews on a positive notes, hoping all will be heading towards a good direction. So you say that the visibility increased, you’ve mentioned the grassroots work and that language inclusivity is improving in the mainstream. I sincerely hope we’ll stay on this course.
Yes, I think that while TERFism in Poland is visible, it actually doesn’t have that much supporters. It seems that there are just few or a dozen of really loud, radical persons, but the movement is not something that is really supported. Of course, we should be vigilant, since it can change any time, but I’d rather perceive it as a group of really loud, really hateful persons that a widespreading wave of ideas. The latter is way more depressive.
Sure, the influence of worldviews is important too. So, in summary: queer solidarity, grassroots work, and for our community (to paraphrase a famous slogan) ‘nothing amongst us with us’?
Yes! Adding to that, allowing oneself to experience one’s transgender identity in various ways: transgressing beyond the perspective of the ‘true trans’, giving oneself space for any type of experience of one’s gender. Regardless of whether you don’t have any problem with getting pregnant or you’re somewhere on the spectrum of different experience from ‘it’s actually fine, I can get pregnant’ all the way to ‘never, I’d do something to myself if that happened’. All those approaches and feelings are ok and don’t invalidate someone’s transgender identity.
All your experiences are valid.
Your gender identity and being transgender can be expressed in million different ways. One person will have so issues with getting pregnant, another will have them; one person will only dress in tracksuit and t-shirts, looking like a typical ‘dude’, while another will wear dresses only and present more like Harry Styles. Each of those options are ok and should not undermined or belittled, especially by the [gender-diverse] community.
Moreover, each of those persons may get pregnant and need an abortion. Thank you for our talk!
Funding for “We’re here! - LGBTQIA activism in a challenging environment” is provided by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with Meridian International Center as the implementing partner.
1 Exact names removed for security protection of activist groups – author’s note
2 Transgender, non-binary, agender and other persons whose gender identity differs from their gender assigned at birth differs – author’s note
3 Trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) – persons who exclude gender-diverse people from feminism and feminist discourses – author’s note
4 Legal transition
5 Hormonal Replacement Therapy
6 Abortion friends or friends in abortion – terms used by pro-abortion activist which describes persons who aid and abet abortion
7 Passing – being perceived (by other persons) as someone of a certain gender, usually in the context when one’s outside appearance matches the gender norms in terms of their gender identity
8 Misgendering – mistakenly or intentionally using incorrect pronouns/gendered language forms while referring to a person
9 Polish right-wing neo-liberal party known for conservative beliefs in the area of abortion and bodily autonomy