Sofia Bengoetxea: “Not all transgender lives are a tragedy”

Sofia Bengoetxea: “Not all transgender lives are a tragedy”

At the heart of Guinardó is a one hundred and twenty square meter closet. It is a wardrobe of closets. Inside the headquartersEn Femme, an association for transgender people -In the broadest sense of the word-, there are closets for dozens of women who keep their clothes and a part of their soul in this shared space. We stay with the activist and member of the organization Sofia Bengoetxea Who explains in his definition of the group that it is “a group of men who dress as women, and may one day become women, or may not.”

This was his first case. Sophia is a transgender woman who didn’t transition until she was 50. “I never dared to admit how I really felt, I have tried for many years to be the man I was expected to be.“Son, husband, man. I lived a double life,” she explains. En Femme, she says, was a step towards accepting her identity.

“The guilt, the shame, the internalized transphobia is very hard to deal with when you’re living it alone,” he explains. She went from dressing as a woman alone, at home, in secret, to being able to share it with a group and feel understood and empowered. “This is the first time I’ve come out of the closet,” he says. Step towards a bigger, more comfortable, more social wardrobe.“, Dio.

En Femme Headquarters Details

As time went on, he felt it. It wasn’t enough to enjoy being Sophia for a few hours. And he became a man again. “Emotionally, it was very difficult to be Albert again,” he says. Which is why, after a moment of personal crisis, she realized she wanted to be Sophia forever. “It took me fifty years to dare to do this meditation without feeling afraid or guilty that I wanted to be a woman.”

Friends accepted it immediately. With his wife, the process wasn’t as straightforward—“she never had anti-trans attitudes, but your husband’s desire to be a woman upsets everyone”—but over time, therapy and support worked. And in the public administration job I worked in, although I suspect some bosses didn’t like it very much, everyone respected the decision.

When he finishes telling his story, before we start talking about politics, Bengoetxea says, “Not every transgender life is a tragedy.” We recognize the prevalence of transphobia and the suffering that so many people experience. gay They have to live. He wants to claim to create a fantasy where trans people aren’t always mistreated.where they can live a life that does not have to be marginalized by default.

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– Are you saying that we live in a very binary system?

Very, very much. Society is based on exclusive concepts of man and woman and the impossibility of anything in between. Maybe we are very modern, very European, and we have a transsexual law that regulates transfers from male to female or from female to male. But it says nothing about those people who, by will or by force, remain in the middle, between blue and pink, on an undefined spectrum. They do not exist.

This gender binary creates suffering. What happens to those people who can’t undergo the transition because they don’t have the financial means? They can’t go to Thailand for surgery, they can’t afford full laser hair removal, they’re 45 or 1.90 meters tall and have the shoulders of a rugby player. In this binary model, you have to become a woman or you’ll live a bad life. You’ll always be a rare woman.

– What does a transgender woman look like in Barcelona?

Barcelona, ​​Catalonia, Spain is an oasis. A very closed bastion of low-key transphobia. In Italy, Poland, Hungary, the UK, it’s not like this.

– Because of the trans law that was passed last year I think. How do you evaluate that?

Welcome, through the law. It is wonderful that we have a law that improves the previous gender identity law and removes the medical and psychological processes that forced us to be gender dysphoric. For God’s sake! Pathology had to be justified. We have finally been able to put that behind us. However, there are other issues that we have not had the courage to address.

One is this duality. What about people who are both genders, homosexualWhich has another identity. Where? What protection do they have? What rights? This is one of the major flaws in the law. The other is the immigrant people. What happens to people who don’t have an ID and live with us? Why don’t they have the right to their desired identity because they are from another country? Trans women come from South America and have to keep submitting a National Intelligence Estimate that doesn’t match their appearance or their identity. Why should we make them suffer?

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Sofia Bengoetxea
Sofia Bengoetxea in En Femme’s closets.

– In the approval process, this law received harsh criticism from the right, but also from the feminist sector, trans-exclusionary feminism. What do you think of this aggressive struggle by a sector of the Socialist Workers Party and feminism against the progressive law?

I am very sorry that sectors of the feminist movement maintain this position, with arguments close to those of Hazit Auer. [l’associació ultracatòlica i d’ultradreta]. Didn’t they stop to think about what they were saying? They were saying things that could be heard over the bar, over the screaming. That we were going to erase women? Women are erased by masculinity and patriarchy. Don’t turn them.

Deep down, what I think is that it’s all about power struggles. Feminism has changed so many things that it’s very scary. The SWP are afraid of the rise of some feminist who will go beyond saying that it’s not acceptable to kill or abuse a woman or that we have to fight the glass ceiling for women entrepreneurs. But when it comes to the sticky floor of supermarket cashiers, cleaning ladies, Western female supremacy, classism, sex work, we don’t go into that, it’s too hairy. They don’t want to talk about that, about all that, so they have to make sure that these radical feminists don’t go any further.

– One of the important changes brought about by the transgender law was the ban on conversion therapies in Spain.

Yes yes. Reverse treatments are brainwashing and indoctrination. Not just for the sake of treatment, but all the psychological pressure and ideological burden of putting someone through the process of denying their identity.

– What do you think about child support and the options available to transgender minors?

I have no opinion on this matter, I don’t know enough and I’d rather not talk about it.

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– Yes. Let’s talk about health. What does public health care now offer to people who want to make a transition?

I can talk about Catalan healthcare. This model is one of the most advanced in the world. I can only say good things about the transport service. It has gone against the pathological view of the guardian of trans people and provides support for the life processes of trans people. Yes, it is true that you have to constantly fight so that the Catalan Health Institute does not back down, adheres to the agreements, makes the protocols a reality… And in this I would like to highlight the work of Transforma La Salute, a group of people who do a commendable job so that the higher spheres that manage health do not do their own thing.

– Currently, does public health cover sex reassignment surgeries or mastectomy for transgender people for free?

Yes. I don’t know what the wait times are these days. I know they’ve been reduced, because a lot of the hurdles have been removed.

– Fear and the growth of the far right and the decline of collective rights that could mean their rise to power?

Too many times we will be the first victims. The first to receive. The violence against homosexuals has increased. We no longer talk about being called “Marika” or “Trapolo”, we talk about physical attacks. This is very serious. It is unbearable.

– How do you celebrate Pride Day?

I am a daughter of Stonewall and I believe that the patriarchy gives us nothing. On the contrary, if it can take away the rights we have won by fighting, it will. Celebrations are fine, on top of a float. They can even be provocative. It is okay to have fun, to revolt with joy. But let us not forget that we are facing a far-right that is doing nothing good, and that our rights can be taken away at any time. So let us not let our guard down, let us maintain critical pride, and let us not accept the normality that imposes on us patriarchal ideological values.

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