It was supposed to be a sunny day in Berlin & I had plans to head to the "Krumme Lanke" to get the last rays of the sun of the year. Yet the beautiful grey city had other plans & I was caught in the rain.
So I decided to FINALLY head to a bookstore SHE SAID Books my friend Sophia had told me about since she sells her books there.
It was the first time I walked into a book store that focuses on queer theory & feminism. I was a bit overwhelmed at first. It was so beautiful to see literature written by & for my community on this scale in such a prominent location. Flicking through the pages of some books I had tears in my eyes from the beautiful words that I read.
When I left Europe 6 years ago stores like this did not exist - in Vienna, I only know of one store. So one could say it was meant to be for me to "meet" Alex - or more their book - for the first time. "LIFE IS NOT BINARY" was the first book that caught my eye & it was one of about 13 books I bought that day - 1 hour before the store closed for the day so I probably would have gone for more!
Life Is Not Binary - by Alex Iantaffi & John- Meg Barker
Brining this book back to Bali - my now 2nd home - meant so much for me. It helped me verbalize & put into perspective what I was thinking & feeling about my gender own Identity.
One would assume that Bali has a very open-minded community that is educated about topics like this but this is not the case. But that is a completely different topic.
What I am trying to say here is that people do not realize what a person like me sacrifices living on a "beautiful" island like Bali. So Alex Iantaffi & Meg-John Barkers book became a Rock to hold on to & nourish my intellect.
I reached out to them on Twitter asking if I could feature them in my "5 Questions for..." series & here we are! Enjoy!
1. I would like to start with a question that I get asked often as an Enby person myself, why do you feel it is so important to ask people for their pronouns & use them.
We humans have a need to be known and recognized. Asking people for their pronouns and using them is a part of that. It says, I want to know how to respectfully refer to you, I see you.
2. Based on your answer above how do you think the world of fashion - which is such a binary one - could/should start implementing Gender Identity in its work.
I don't know much about fashion but I do know that, as I have become more confident in my own gender identity, I have enjoyed wearing a range of clothing. I do wish that clothing wasn't divided by gender though! It's so fun to mix colors, fabrics, textures, and shapes. I have started to buy and wear the clothes that appeal to me, regardless of which gender they were designed for. However, I do feel that clothes could be so much more fun if they were not bound by the gender binary. We've seen so many more examples of this in the past few years but they are usually limited to celebrities who have clothing especially designed for them. I wish those more gender liberated styles were available to everyone, not just Hollywood stars!
3. When it comes to fashion we have been conditioned that certain garments should or can only be worn a certain way or by a certain group of people, while we can now see this narrative shifting a lot even with big brands jumping on the “unisex” Bandwagon - what would you like to see more & less in fashion?
I feel that a lot of 'unisex' or gender neutral clothing are really 'masculine'. For example, sweatpants and hoodies. You don't see a lot of 'unisex' dresses or skirts! I would love to see more gender liberated and creative clothes rather than unisex clothes alone.
4. While reading through your website I can see that you have accomplished SO much & are still going strong! Is there anything left in your life that you would like to accomplish or experience - or live to see?
What a great question! I would love to see teleportation happen but that's unlikely! In terms of things that I would like to accomplish, I have a few. I'd love for one of my books to get more mainstream media attention (Oprah's book club, I'm ready for your call!). I love reality TV and would love to be in a show (does anyone need a trans family therapist for a dating show?). More realistically, I would love to live long enough to see my children grow up and have their own, full, beautiful lives. And I hope I will have the time to write all the books I want to write.
5. And lastly what I always like asking is if there is anything you would like to advise the young generation & the older one when it comes to understanding each other & having an better togetherness.
I have always had some intergenerational friendships, both when I was younger and now that I am older. There is so much we offer one another and I am sad that within Anglo dominant culture, and sometimes even within subcultures in our communities, intergenerational friendships are not valued. It doesn't help that in trans and queer communities we lost almost an entire generation to the AIDS crisis. I know I am here and I am able to live my life the way I do because of all of those who have gone before me, some of them are still here and some of them are blessed ancestors now. I also know that I learn from people younger than me everyday. We need each other because a community cannot be made up of just one generation.
Thank you so much for your time & sharing your thoughts Alex!
I can not wait to start reading your next book!