Participants of one of the Austroan transgender meetings explore Vienna.
What a difference a day can make - One day you might be a man, the next a woman.
However the average Austrian can not be imagine this. It is a fairly old-fashioned country and so conservative that most citizens can only conceive of a person ever presenting themselves as a single gender. This makes life easier for most self-made women, but harder for flashy multigendered transvestites.
However, we do not separate transvestites and transsexuals, not only because the community is still small compared to Germany or the UK, but also because we feel similar, respecting all the differences that our experience granted us.
Last year we started an all Austrian transgender weekend meeting and were surprised at how many folks attended. Meanwhile we also have three other such weekends where people from Hungary, Germany and Sweden also joined us in Austria. If you come to Austria, you shouldn't miss one of these weekends.
What a difference a day makes: One day you might be a depressed, the next euphoric.
Last year was a euphoric one for the queer community, because an existing law that discriminated against gays was abolished. Due to this fact the St Christopher Street - Day, (demonstration), became a great party. About 6,000 people came to this LGBT-parade in Vienna.
Eva (in a false body) and Alfons Haider 'representing a very small groupe of people'.
Transgender-people took part with our own truck completely coloured in pink and violet with strong music and free cold drinks for all who joined us. A lot of lesbians came to our truck and we really had a lot of fun. For the first time we were invited to present a talk at the celebrations final manifestation show. Bad luck for me - as I am chairwoman of the transgender union - I was asked to speak. However this gave me the opportunity to point out that despite the days celebrations transgendered people in Austria have little reason to celebrate as the legal situation for transgenders is still almost the same as in the fascist times.
One of the very few "openly declared gay" television stars moderated the final manifestation show. He introduced me as "Eva Fels - representing a very small group of people, a person who is living in a false body". I was really angry; I love my body, (well of course not every detail, just as no women ever gets completely satisfied with her body). So when I jumped on stage I answered: "No, I don't live in a false body. It's a great body. It allowed me to become what I am - I only live in a false society." Well, I shot down the "sunny-smiley show" immediately. "I live in a sexist system - I live in a society that defames people who do not represent their gender correctly - and I live in a state that controls your gender life." I went on to mention all the repression of transgenders in Austria and recalled that we are still forced by law to undergo surgery before we can officially take a female name. This forces a lot of transgenders to have the operation and implies a lot of troubles for those who live as women before the operation.
For many years the transgender-union 'TransX' has taken the position that every one has the right to choose ones gender for themselves. Now we feel that the time has come for Austrian society to support this position. In late summer we started our campaign for the right to choose our name freely, without an operation and without being forced in to psychotherapy. Is not the compulsion and motivation to live in a particular gender role as natural for transgenders as for anybody else?
|The start of TransX campaign: 'No gender enforcement!'|
We started our "rights" campaign at a large garden festival of a left-winged party. Our campaign information-point was designed like a pink candy-shop emblazoned with a large banner saying "No gender enforcement!" (Keine Geschlechtszwaenge!). While collecting signatures we were surprised at the level of sympathy and support for our postulation of free name choice from the population. So we got on with this job.
At the same time we were lucky to convince one of the regional groups of the socialist party to support our postulations. With this base of support it became easier for socialist politicians too, to declare that they also would support our postulations. However actual change in law looked unlikely as the socialists have not been in government for the last two years.
|Maria, collecting signatures for the right to choose one's name freely|
What a differnce a day makes: Due to internal quarrels the right-wing government broke down in autumn and an election was set for end of November.
Before this election we organised a politician round table with socialist, conservative and green party representatives.
Surprisingly the socialist and green representatives declared that they would liberate the names law. The green party also mentioned that
the registered gender might be corrected when TS start their real-life test phase. Only the right wing conservative party was not prepared
to answer our questions at all. But we didn't mind. All opinion polls indicated that the socialists would win the elections.
That day we were quite euphoric believing that soon we might see change.
What a difference a day make: On the election day the Christian-Conservatives won a vastly superior majority.
After a few euphoric weeks the transgender-community felt depressed - nothing was now likely to change.
Nevertheless, we keep going on with our campaign. It is good to contact people and inform them of transgenders legal and
social situation. We know - what a difference a day makes.
One day we will gain the right to live our gender freely and be respected in our gender not only by society but also by the state.
GOING OUT IN AUSTRIA
The Vienna Rose-Ball blooming in all colours of mankind
I can not imagine that you might experience any trouble when you check in at a hotel as men and leave it as women. It really is not necessary to look for a special trans-friendly hotel. And you surely will only get a smile, when you walk in a shop as a man and show interest in fancy women's cloth. However offering persuasive female performances in the streets will not only make your life more relaxed, as you know, but also, at least in some districts, safer. It is quite safe to cross-dress in Austria, although some Austrians will immediately show interest in your beauty so beware particularly of groups of drunken young men.
Austria doesn't have even one special Transgender-Pub. The gay-scene offers bars which I can recommend for TG persons, but others - even if they let drags in - are really not worth spending more than ten minutes of time in. The same is valid for the Frauencafe, a woman's bar, where men are not allowed to enter. For a complete list of LGBT-pubs visit www.rainbow.or.at or pick up one of the free city-guides that you will find in all gay pubs. The pubs I have listed below will offer you a friendly welcome.
If you want to meet transgender-people inform yourself about the topical meetings and events of TransX, the Viennese group, or of one of the groups in the larger towns. We do not only meet for make-up-workshops, discussions and parties but also for mountain tours and bathing. All transgender groups are open and many of us speak English. Like other Austrians we are open hearted and it should be easy to find another TG-Person to spend an evening with. All information is available through www.transgender.at. Just give a "hello I'm coming" in the chat or mailing list before arriving.
However the best time to visit Vienna will be the 28th June, when the large RAINBOW PARADE will take place and the 14th July, at the commemoration day for 320 years of terror against transgenders (see box).
If your main interest is to spend an exciting erotic evening in Vienna, you have to visit the LE SWING on a Tuesday. That day is dedicated to men and TG, so you will get in contact to a lot of transvestites as well as warmly interested men. The darker rooms on the backside offer small rooms with beds, which invite for immediate sexual plays.
Vienna has an interesting fetish scene where transgenders are warmly welcomed. The Sado-Maso pub SMART CAFE offers a very familiar atmosphere where you will easily get in contact with others. From time to time there are also lesbian play-parties, which are open for 'all women' including transgender-women. For more information and to make sure that you don't drop in on an evening where only boring leather-gays are invited: www.smartcafe.at.
If you prefer traditional atmosphere, classical dancing and beautiful costumes you have to visit one of Austrians Gay-Lesbian Ball-events. Most famous is the LIFE BALL, which takes place in the Viennese town hall. But it is almost impossible to get a ticket for that event. But don't miss the ROSENBALL or the RAINBOW BALL, which takes place in historical palace in a very tradition manner where you can experience the 18th century, with the small exception that a Gay-Lesbian-Transgender audience surrounds you. In Graz you might visit the famous TUNTENBALL.
Central TG web site: www.transgender.at
GRAZSelf-help Group / Transgender-Meeting
Each 2nd Sunday of the month at 19:00 at the sbz (Gartengasse 20) and each 4th Wednesday at 21:00 at the Traminer Weinstube at the edge Jakominiplatz - Klosterwiesgasse 2. For more information and contacts visit www.graz.transgender.at or Michaela www.members.tripod.de/rouxii/michaela.html, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Self-help Group / Transgender-Meeting:
Self-help Group / Transgender-Meeting:
TransX - TransGender - Union
The WayOut Tranny Guide - WayOut of the Closet,
11th Edition, p. 126-129, WayOut- Publishing Co Ldt, Enfield, UK, 2003