"For people who also are trans, it is our basic humanity that is challenged. Anger is the only sane response." Nine Yamamoto-Masson interviews Yishay Garbasz about the politics of allyship, solidarity, cultural memory, institutionalised oppression, visibility and survival.
Yishay Garbasz is an artist and author whose main artistic interest is the inheritance of post-traumatic memories. British-Israeli and based in Berlin, she works across multiple media: “I'll learn whatever I need to in order to get the job done,” she says. “Mostly I use photography; I was trained as a photographer and as a dancer, but I also use video, installations, kinetic sculpture, light installations, performance. This is something incredible that my teachers taught me: if I can see it in my mind, and I have enough experience and confidence, I can make it in the real world.”
Garbasz was in conversation with Juliet Jacques at the Representing Trans: Acts of Self-definition event at the Tate Modern to launch Jacques's Trans: A Memoir. Both trans women, they discussed the importance of resisting sensationalist representations of transgender people, and how their artwork and writing addresses the question of representing trans lives as lives. They left a deep impression on many of the attendees, echoing in fragments on social media. One fragment in particular, from Garbasz, seemed to hit a nerve: “There are no allies, only actions. There is no magical status – only a readiness for action”.
- Eat me Damien, Yishay Garbasz, 2010: Sculptures, Formaldehyde protected testicles removed during surgery, Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York. "This has nothing to do with gender," she said at the Tate Modern.
Cristan Williams, a trans historian and journalist, interviewed Judith Butler about gender and the trans experience for The TransAdvocate.
Cristan Williams: You spoke about the surgical intervention many trans people undergo as a “very brave transformation.” Can you talk about that?
Judith Butler: It is always brave to insist on undergoing transformations that feel necessary and right even when there are so many obstructions to doing so, including people and institutions whos seek to pathologize or criminalize such important acts of self-definition. I know that for some feels less brave than necessary, but we all have to defend those necessities that allow us to live and breathe in the way that feels right to us. Surgical intervention can be precisely what a trans person needs – it is also not always what a trans person needs. Either way, one should be free to determine the course of one’s gendered life.