The Black German Heritage Research Association (BGHRA), the Diversity, Decolonization, and German Curriculum collective (DDGC), and the Coalition of Women in German (WiG) leadership express our support of and solidarity with trans peoples within our institutions and fields, our local communities, and beyond. It has been another devastating few months of anti-trans rhetoric and anti-trans legislation, in the US, in Germany, and in other parts of the world. These forms of hostility have been accompanied by physical violence targeting trans people.
We are saddened to see that some putative feminists have been the source of some of this anti-trans rhetoric. As just one example, recent articles in the magazine EMMA and its online publications reframe gender-affirming care as self-hatred or as recourse to gender stereotypes. Such initiatives demean the activism and identities of trans activists and their allies as a “trend” that potentially threatens cisgender women and girls. This damaging and inflammatory rhetoric perpetuates linguistic violence that is echoed by news media and radical right politicians, who appropriate and applaud such rhetoric.
Anti-trans rhetoric has concrete material effects and intersects powerfully with racism and white supremacy: it perpetuates the targeting of trans people for physical violence; contributes to the ways that trans communities become particularly vulnerable communities living in unstable housing, under criminalization or immigration-related surveillance, inside jails or prison; and consequently also impacts how trans people are disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We condemn such anti-trans violence, which frequently goes hand in hand with other forms of hostility against historically and structurally marginalized peoples. As we oppose the growing anti-trans sentiment in Europe, we must also recognize the place from which many of us live and work in North America. In particular the US has seen a wave of anti-trans laws and policies proposed and enacted in recent months. As is the case in Europe and elsewhere, this structural violence against trans people is not new; rather, it is part of a history of pain that in our time finds expression in new iterations. These numerous legislative attempts, and many successes, actively criminalize trans people and their potential support networks. Most recently, for example, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for investigations of parents supportive of their trans children, falsely claiming that their support for gender-affirming medical care constitutes child abuse. This directive threatens these childrens’ networks of care, which include parental as well as medical and psychological care. And, while the particular legislation in Texas wasn’t ultimately approved, investigations had already begun and concrete harms already been perpetuated. The violent sentiment behind the proposed requirement that individuals use the bathroom according to sex listed on birth certificate guides new anti-trans legislation. These and other legislative and policy matters actively limit the participation of trans people in various public settings, including students in many school and campus activities. Physical violence, exclusion from public settings, the trauma experienced through anti trans initiatives, and exclusion from accessing health resources (including psychological resources) all provide barriers to self-actualization.
In the field of German studies, there remains much work to be done to support our trans colleagues and students. Trans German studies has traditionally been allocated a space on the margins of the field, if it is mentioned at all. The histories, cultural and social practices, as well as lived experiences of trans people deserve representation in curricula, at conferences, and scholarly publications. Trans scholars deserve material support structures that afford them the resources and working contexts in which they can conduct their work.
We are grateful for the work being done by trans activists, scholars, teachers, and students that combats these histories of exclusion and violence. We will continue to learn from their work and will support it and the people who do it in various ways from the positions which we occupy. Below, we outline a call to action list for our organizations’ members and supporters that variously align with the principles our three organizations represent.
Call to Action Learn
Follow local transled organizations, as well as national organizations such as: The Transgender Law Center (@translawcenter) or Step Up (@stepup4trans), and the organization for Europe and Central Asia TGEU (@tgeuorg). Follow the intersectional work of LesMigraS (@lesmigras) and GladT (by following the hashtag #GladT), who also do important work for/with/by trans activists.
Familiarize yourself with the ongoing news around trans-harmful policy and legislature locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally by reading news coverage, press releases by transled organizations, or scholarly work on trans life. Where possible, foreground the work published by trans people.
Find out if medical needs for trans students, staff and faculty are covered at your institution. If not, support initiatives demanding medical coverage, and find out about and circulate information about emergency funds.
Scholarship and Teaching
Critically evaluate your curricular structures: how can you integrate lessons and histories as well as cultural practices as documented in trans studies into your curricula?
Are you in a position at your institution in which you can advocate for and support trans scholars and trans studies scholarship? This does not always need to take place in your immediate program, department, or division.
The field of German studies requires more solid infrastructure to support trans scholars and trans German studies. Call for and support trans German studies work and infrastructure.
Recognize that trans students and scholars may be less likely to have traditional or linear academic biographies. Ensure that people’s academic histories are evaluated flexibly.
Contact your Public Officials
Reach out to your local, regional, and national public officials and call for the support of trans-affirmative policies and legislatures. This also entails expressing dissent about trans-hostile policies and legislature.
A US-centered resource on current US legislative battles with info on how to reach your public officials is Step Up.
Share Resources Regularly and Ask Those in Your Networks to Do the Same Support Financially
Donate to organizations that have a good track record for fighting for and supporting the trans communities, such as:
Support trans mutual aid collectives in your communities. Some of these networks might already be in place on your campus, in your neighborhood, city, etc. Amplify the call for support of these initiatives within your personal and professional circles.
In light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the WiG Leadership team expresses support for Ukrainians, as well as all refugees and protesters for peace globally. We strongly condemn the actions being taken by the Russian military and leadership, which represent a long history of unchecked human rights violations and abuses. An invasion of an independent country is already an unconscionable and unjustifiable act of colonization; an invasion and the resultant displacement of millions at the height of a country’s pandemic wave, when resources and human lives are already in acute precarity, even more so.
Although this invasion may seem like a sudden escalation of territorial conflict, the historical background of the actions taken on February 24, 2022 is long. We are responding directly to this invasion but recognize the following, non-exhaustive list of events as of central importance to the conflict at hand: the invasion of Crimea in 2014; Ukraine’s declaration of independence immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union; the efforts towards Ukrainian independence that were made leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union; and centuries of territorial disputes and conflicts. The invasion of Ukraine is a current crisis that will continue to unfold over time. This statement is written in media res.
As feminist scholars, we recognize this military invasion as a violent expression of imperialist, white supremacy. We object to the perpetuation of sexist and anti-LGBTQIA+ attitudes and legislation in Russia under Putin. We also stand against state violence and colonial violence in all of its forms. Russian aggression and violations of human rights have too often been met with inaction by global leaders, but thankfully people around the world are speaking up. In recognition of the danger of speaking out against an oppressive leadership, also familiar to us as scholars of German Studies, we endorse the actions and voices of the thousands of protesters throughout Russia, as well as across the globe. We stand in solidarity with all of our colleagues and students who are personally affected by these actions and we encourage WiG members to reach out and lend support within their means and spheres of influence.
Western leadership is slow to act; even the current talks of striking at Russia’s economy via SWIFT sanctions may only have so much impact. It is easy and perfectly understandable to despair in times of inevitable war and precarity, especially after years of pandemic-related disruption to our daily lives. For those who have the energy and resources to take action and to express solidarity, we have compiled the following list of resources:
WiG is searching for a new co-editor for Feminist German Studies to begin in Fall 2022 with issue 39.2 for a 3-year term (renewable once).
Member of WiG with longstanding record of participation and contribution to the organization;
A secure and stable position, senior rank preferred;
A strong research/publication record;
Commitment to feminist scholarship (its production and/or dissemination);
Commitment to collaboration (with co-editor, editorial board, authors, anonymous reviewers) and mentoring (of early-career authors, new editorial board members, interns, the incoming co-editor, etc.);
Vision to enhance FGS;
Institutional support ideal (travel funds to attend WiG conference; editorial assistant or other support for managing the flow of manuscripts; course release also desirable).
Recruit members for Editorial Board as needed to replace outgoing members and to support editorial vision for FGS.
Solicit manuscripts, send manuscripts out for review, make selections, prepare copy of the regular issue to meet publisher’s deadline.
Solicit proposals for the annual special issue, work closely with and support guest editors throughout the process, send submissions out for review, prepare final manuscript to meet publisher’s guidelines and deadlines.
Support journal’s mission to mentor graduate students and early-stage faculty in the submission, review, editing, and publication process.
Maintain a healthy working relationship with the press (currently University of Nebraska Press); renegotiate the contract as needed.
Submit an annual report to the editorial board and the steering committee in late winter/early spring.
At least one co-editor attends the annual Steering Committee meeting at the conference, runs the Editorial Board meeting during the conference, and reports to attendees of the business meeting during conference weekend.
Please send your application (2-3 page letter stating your interest and qualifications, along with your current CV) to the search committee at email@example.com by April 1, 2022.
WiG is committed to anti-racist feminism and is taking concrete steps to ensure that WiG spaces (conferences, co-sponsored panels, the WiG-List, social media, and collaborative spaces) reflect those practices and values. A renewed commitment to work against injustice and discrimination within our organization and beyond is long overdue.
WiG acknowledges the ability of the organization and its members to push the boundaries of feminist scholarship and action in the field of German Studies by employing an antiracist politics of care with a deep commitment to feminist coalition- and community-building.
WiG is committed to making interventions in the field of German Studies and contributing to structural change, while addressing inequities and imbalances of power. The organization has the potential to serve as a collaborative, supportive, self-reflective, and accessible space that is able to respond to the needs of its community. Members’ scholarship and practice aim to address and challenge manifestations of antisemitism, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-Muslim, xenophobia, classism, and ableism, as well as anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, anti-Asian, anti-Black and other forms of racism in creative, compassionate, productive, and intersectional ways.
WiG continues to be a majority-white space and has failed in the past at being a welcoming space for Scholars of Color. WiG is a community overwhelmingly comprised of tenure-track and tenured faculty, and thus the positions of those with the “most security” and power in the academy disproportionately represent the organization. WiG has not done the work of decolonizing its spaces and structures, nor has it done an adequate job of confronting its own structural and systemic racism.
Given our values and recognizing the context of our organization, WiG is committed to take the following actions:
Mitigate the violence and discriminatory potential of language
WiG condemns the use of derogatory language because it perpetuates harm to BIPOC, members of the LGBTQIA community, noncitizens, people with disabilities, and others and has the potential to lead to re-traumatization.
WiG also considers the impact that the use of vocabulary and the use of examples from a text can have on differently-situated individuals.
At WiG and in WiG-affiliated spaces, it is inappropriate to use the N-word in any context or in any language. If the word is in the title of the work, simply say “N-word.” If it’s in a citation, do the same.
In recognizing WiG values, concerns about censorship do not take priority over concerns about the well-being of our communities.
Create inclusive scholarly and professional spaces that challenge white supremacy
WiG is committed to feminist anti-racist citation practices.
Scholarly integrity includes acknowledging and highlighting the work of junior scholars, Scholars of Color, and scholars in more vulnerable positions.
As an anti-racist feminist organization, WiG values contributions of BIPOC scholars across disciplines and recognizes that some of our members have been doing groundbreaking anti-racist feminist work for a long time.
WiG promotes scholarship and teaching practices that disrupt and decenter traditional “Western/white,” heteronormative, and ableist academic knowledge production.
WiG encourages mentorship and understands that mentorship needs to be a trust-building practice. Power structures and hierarchies need to be acknowledged, confronted, and broken down whenever possible, which includes marking whiteness and working towards undoing marginalizations.
Address structural inequalities
As an organization, WiG aspires to promote equity, access, and representation for its members.
WiG conference sessions and affiliate WiG sessions at other conferences should generally be organized by a more experienced and a less experienced WiG member (e.g. a graduate student or someone at the early stages of their career, whether it be within or outside of academia).
Our members are called on to remain self-reflective, critical, and conscious of their positionalities and potential positive and negative impacts when presenting, mentoring, collaborating, or working on committees together.
Repeated intervention is key. Preventive measures, though often successful in mitigating harm, are not enough to ensure full inclusion nor to ensure that everyone in WiG spaces has full access to the tools necessary to co-create the organization. WiG is committed to taking action to address individual, collective, and structural issues that have arisen and may continue to arise. The leadership team encourages all members to work together to find constructive ways to adhere to these guidelines and promote WiG’s core values.
All members of WiG, including all conference participants, commit to co-creating a space and experience for every participant that is enriching, productive, and fulfilling, and that is not hostile, threatening, or exclusionary.
These Community Guidelines will be:
sent to panel organizers upon acceptance of a panel at the WiG conference;
sent to participants upon acceptance of a paper or poster, with particular focus on panels with content that could generate harm in any way;
sent to registrants upon registration for the WiG conference;
reviewed by the WiG President or conference organizer(s) at the beginning of the WiG conference annually;
and, posted on the WiG website.
It is the responsibility of the leadership team to update these guidelines to reflect on the ways in which WiG as an organization can be an ever-more inclusive and safe place for scholars invested in feminist anti-racist German studies.
Adibeli, Nduka-Agwu, and Antje Lann Hornscheidt, eds. Rassismus auf gut Deutsch. Ein kritisches Nachschlagewerk zu rassistischen Sprachhandlungen. Frankfurt a. M: Brandes & Apsel, 2013.
Arndt, Susan. Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht. (K)erben des Kolonialismus im Wissensarchiv deutsche Sprache: Ein Nachschlagewerk. Münster: Unrast, 2011.
Ayim, May, Ika Hügel, Chris Lange, Ilona Bubeck, Gülsen Aktas, and Dagmar Schultz, eds. Entfernte Verbindungen: Rassismus, Antisemitismus, Klassenunterdrückung. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag, 1993.
Eggers, Maureen Maisha, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche, and Susan Arndt, eds. Mythen, Masken und Subjekte. Kritische Weißseinsforschung in Deutschland. Münster: Unrast, 2005.
Essed, Philomena. Everyday Racism: Reports from Women of Two Cultures. Hunter House, 1990.
Fricker, Miranda. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 2009.
Hasters, Alice. Was weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen (Aber wissen sollten). Hanserblau, 2019.
Oguntoye, Katharina, May Ayim/Opitz, and Dagmar Schultz, eds. Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. Frankfurt/Main, Fischer Verlag, 1986.
Otoo, Sharon Dodua (2016) “‘The Speaker is Using the N-Word’: A Transnational Comparison (Germany-Great Britain) of Resistance to Racism in Everyday Language.” Rassismuskritik und Widerstandsformen. (Inter)national vergleichende Formen von Rassismus und Widerstand, edited by Karim Fereidooni and Meral El. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, July 13, 2016, pp. 291-305.
Sow, Noah. Deutschland Schwarz weiß: der alltägliche Rassismus. München, Goldmann Verlag, 2008.
Weber, Silja, et al. “Decolonizing German Studies Curricula: A Report from the 2019 GSA Seminar.” German Studies Review, 44.1, 2021, pp. 155-166. Younging, Gregory. Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. Brush Education, 2018.
Dear WiG members, conference panel organizers, and participants,
In collaboration with this year’s conference organizers, the Leadership Team of the Coalition of Women in German is writing to announce that we have decided to hold the 2021 conference virtually again this year. Based on the results of the conference format survey sent out by the conference organizers this spring as well as the uncertainty regarding the ongoing effects of the pandemic, reduced travel budgets, and other related concerns, we believe this to be the most responsible option. Making this difficult decision now will allow us to plan the best conference possible in this format.
The conference organizers will be reaching out to the individual panel organizers today to ask for their input on how they wish to run their sessions online. Once we have received all feedback, we will then begin creating a revised conference schedule. Conference registration information will be available this summer.
Although conference registration and WiG membership will be required to attend the majority of conference events, we aim to offer a reduced registration fee. We also plan to allow members to donate conference registration fees to cover the costs for graduate student and contingent faculty participation.
One positive effect of hosting the conference virtually is that many members who were previously not planning on attending due to cost of travel or prevalence of fall conferences may be able to join us. We welcome all to attend—and look forward to connecting with one another in this way. We also greatly look forward to being able to greet everyone in person again the following year.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
The WiG Leadership Team and the 2021 Conference Committee
In light of recent legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and nonbinary people, we, the leadership of the Coalition of Women in German, reiterate our full support for the rights of all. We celebrate the vast array of gender identities and sexual orientations in our organization and in our communities.
The Coalition of Women in German was founded to foster a space for people identifying as women in the field of German Studies to gather and share ideas freely within a supportive, feminist community. Today that space has expanded beyond a single gender identity. As so-called TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) have become more vocal, it is crucial for feminist organizations such as WiG to push back against this understanding of what feminism means and who is included. The Coalition of Women in German does not support any feminism that excludes trans and nonbinary people.
WiG also stands adamantly against all recent legislative efforts to curb the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Trans and nonbinary people deserve accessible healthcare at any age. It is absolutely unacceptable to normalize discrimination against trans and nonbinary people and to enshrine it in our laws. By even proposing this legislation, lawmakers deliberately endanger the lives of LGBTQ+ people. The Coalition of Women in German has signed this collective statement in support of trans and nonbinary people. We will not turn our heads to this violence. At our upcoming May leadership meeting we intend to vote on a change to our by-laws that would require us to “evaluate all conference locations with regard to how welcoming and accessible they are to all members of our community.”
As discussed in our community agreement, we recognize the need to evaluate all aspects of our organization to ensure that they align with our values. (For example, it is impossible to write this statement without mentioning the fact that our name, while representing a deeply meaningful and long-standing history, is not as inclusive as it could be.) The leadership of WiG calls on our members to share their thoughts with us about how we can and should take action within our organization to affirm and support both our current members and those who might be members, if they felt more welcomed. Please use the GoogleForm located in the email version of this statement to share any thoughts that you have regarding actions WiG might want to consider moving forward.
Resources on trans and nonbinary people and language in a Germanophone context:
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