June is traditionally Pride Month. A month that commemorates the brutal oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex – in short: queer – people (LGBTIQ*). And above all to her rebellion in New York in 1969. To her pride, her dignity, her emancipation and her fight for acceptance.
At the beginning of this month, of all times, WELT published a frontal attack against LGBTIQ* with a guest article by five authors. Includes lurid detailing and inverted rainbow flag. More devaluation is not possible. The fact that the rainbow flag was hoisted in front of the Springer Group in Berlin on the same day is at least bigoted.
Since then there has been criticism. In public, from the queer community and even from the editorial offices of Springer Verlag. As the federal government’s queer commissioner, it’s important for me to make it clear that this outrage isn’t just justified. It is also necessary. Because the pamphlet is dripping with homophobia and transphobia, is not scientifically sound and works with fake news.
I thought about whether a reaction might not add value to the post, which it didn’t deserve. But since he is representative of an increasingly aggressive agitation, especially against trans people, I reply at this point on behalf of all those who do not have this opportunity.
Firstly, well-known formats such as “Sending with the Mouse” or “Quarks” report on social diversity and thus also the existence of homosexuality or transgenders. This is good news for every young person. Because they grow up through such contributions in a climate in which they are enlightened about gender and sexual diversity as part of the actually existing society and in which they do not have to be afraid of being who they are.
For decades, these issues have either been linked to crime or disease – or have been completely ignored. As a result, sometimes even queer people have “internalized” homophobia and transphobia themselves – i.e. adopted what society and the state have directed against them in terms of devaluation. The result to this day is a significantly increased tendency to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or even suicidal tendencies. Educational formats such as that of the mouse are therefore a contribution to more visibility and also to better health. Anyone who defames this as “re-education” or “sexualization” is acting infamously.
Second: In their text, the authors speak of a “confirmed scientific finding of dual gender”. Here at the latest you can actually put the text away and ignore it as a quasi-creationist product.
I still take the trouble to reply: Intersex exists! Transgender exist! Always. A few years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally removed transgenderness from the list of diseases. Like intersex or non-binary, transgender is a variant of gender development.
And anyone who doubts that too should at least listen to our Federal Constitutional Court, which made a groundbreaking judgment in 2017 and strengthened gender identity as a core area of your own personality that needs to be protected. Since then, the state and society have needed justification if they do not actively and positively recognize trans, inter or non-binary people.
Third: The accusation used in the pamphlet that transgenderness is a “trending topic” is anti-trans. Hardly anything is more fundamental than the division of mankind into male and female. It even begins before a child is born. Anyone who doesn’t fit into these categories has a problem in this binary society. Trans people, for example, are the target of verbal or physical attacks, exclusion and bullying every day.
Who seriously believes that people change their gender or even change their bodies for fun and money? It is an arduous path to self-acknowledgment. People need respect, acceptance and support – not external lectures about who they are supposed to be.
Fourth: The pamphlet also spreads false claims about the politics of the federal government. For example, that future 14-year-olds should be able to “decide on hormonal and surgical adjustments against the will of their parents”. No, that’s not planned. It never was.
Physical adjustments are not regulated by law; those affected decide on this together with doctors based on specialist medical guidelines. What the federal government is currently preparing is an end to the degrading transsexual law after more than 40 years. Various compulsory reports are currently required if a person wants to change their gender entry in their ID document. These procedures are lengthy, expensive and degrading with the most intimate questions about underwear or masturbation behavior.
The traffic light coalition will abolish this obligation to give an expert opinion and thus strengthen the dignity and self-determination of people who have been determined by others for far too long.
I am writing this response not only as a government official. I am also writing them as a gay man and as someone who stands in solidarity with all minorities who are discriminated against because of their way of being. Whenever we’re told we shouldn’t be so sensitive, alarm bells go off in my head. We are not sensitive. We’re just tired of it!
We are tired of our existence being negotiated at all. We are tired of LGBTIQ* hostility being presented as a legitimate “opinion” in the first place and not for what it is: group-focused enmity. And we are tired of the fact that many of us are insulted or attacked on a daily basis just for who we are and for loving how we love. There is a right to freedom of expression – of course. But there is no right that this should go unchallenged.
The good news is that pamphlets like that of the Five are contradicted loud and clear. It’s a good sign that we’re no longer putting up with everything for fear of being marginalized. We belong. We are everywhere – in government and corporate boards, editorial offices, sports clubs, schools, construction companies, at the supermarket checkout, in rifle clubs. More visible than ever. And that’s just as well.
Sven Lehmann (42, Greens) is the Federal Government Commissioner for the Acceptance of Sexual and Gender Diversity (“Queer Commissioner”) and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs.