One of my favorite aspects of collaborating with other artists on new and interesting themes, such as the 7 Deadly Sins for this weekend's exhibition, is the wealth and range of information that I learn, very often completely unexpectedly. Sometimes the experience hopeful and inspiring, such as watching poet Allison Baldwin walk through writer's block and get to the heart of what she desires to say, changing a mediocre first draft into her stellar 23-page series: Balancing Act.
Other times, it highlights a more unflattering side of humanity. Performance Artist and trans activist Zafire Vrba informed me very recently about the topic of their performance for this weekend, On Animals and Cleaning, which relates to the forced sterilization of trans people in Sweden until 2013 and the eugenic obsession in which this procedure is based.
When I heard 'until 2013', I felt shocked and appalled; but how could this be?! Honestly, I had no idea. And then, I spoke to some friends from France, the country where I am currently residing, only to find out that it was happening until 2016. Here's a very informative map and chart of Europe from 2014 just to give you an idea.
Furthermore, the US is no better as this is an issue divided state by state, but finding a map as clear as this one is hard to find.
AND...sometimes the more you learn, you can find little molecules of hope amongst the madness...here's 2018's versions of the same map and chart:
Thankfully, several countries, under the pressure of human rights activists around the world, have begun to change their ways.
However, this does not mean the system is perfect or comfortable, as 34 countries in Europe still require a mental health diagnosis of gender identity disorder, which categorizes being trans as having a mental illness.
I share this to share it, because I believe that the more people know, the more likely it is that human rights violations such as this can change - as evidenced by the work of these organizations: Transgender Europe and Open Society Foundations and the work of 7x7's amazing performance artist, Zafire.
And another hopeful UPDATE! From Zafire:
"The last map has become a bit more complicated since it was posted in May, WHO has removed trans from the mental health disorders and placed it under sexual health, with the intention to encourage countries to offer trans care not just through specific trans clinics but also through sexual health clinics, making the care much more spread and accessible. There is a good article here: https://tgeu.org/world-health-organisation-moves-to-end-classifying-trans-identities-as-mental-illness/"
So, why do I share this? Because after years and years of trans activism of trying to depathologize trans identities, the map has already changed for the better and we only hope to keep that trajectory going.
Being informed is a super-power. Sharing with others is exercising that power. Creating something that speaks to our traumatized society in an effort to make art out of the madness is just downright being beautiful.
Zafire's On Animals and Cleaning will be performed on Saturday, September 29th at 19h18 at Gelegenheiten, Weserstr. 50, Berlin.
For a very informative document from Open Society Foundations about forced sterilization, human rights, and several arguments for and against, click here.