In 2049, commentators may look back on 2017 as a pivotal moment in the rebalancing of power in society, which has for so long been unequally distributed according to restrictive gender norms.
The #MeToo movement spread with tsunami-like force across borders, cultures, and workplaces, upturning the way we talk about sexual harassment and abuse.
While the hashtag grabbed headlines, far more significant has been the ground gained by the tireless activism of women’s and LGBT movements, whose dedicated work has been the bedrock of achievements such as the introduction of consent-based definitions of rape and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in some countries.
Much remains to be done and hard-won gains cannot be taken for granted. In 2019, with illiberal movements on the rise worldwide, the place of women and LGBTQI+ people in society has become a key political battle. From the growing popularity of overtly misogynistic strongmen to brazen attempts to roll back rights, an international backlash which demonises ‘gender ideology’ and champions ‘family values’ has been met with grim determination by progressives around the globe. While the fight against the Trumps, Orbáns, and Salvinis of our time is being waged on many fronts, it is unified by the struggle for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights.
In this context, this panorama lends an ear to diverse and defiant voices from across Europe, while infographics offer snapshot reminders of the status quo. From Croatia to Germany and from Spain to the Netherlands, feminist and LGBTQI+ activists share perspectives and look to 2049 with hope, pragmatism, and imagination. Combatting structural violence; revolutionising sex education; undoing the gender binary: we hone in on the struggles to define feminist and LGBTQI+ action over the next three decades, seeking to inspire and to connect the dots of resistance.
There is not one single strategy for reaching a world beyond gender. We are all used to being gendered, to a gendered world. For many trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people, being gendered is violent. Gender as a social construct is inherently unequal. Patriarchy as a social institution is woven into gender itself. But we can and should deconstruct gender, play with it, ridicule it, and work towards institutional and legal frameworks which support and protect such actions.
The German state should pave the way for this to be possible. At the end of 2018, Germany officially recognised that there is more than men and women by introducing a reluctant third gender option (divers) for official records, but failed to implement a law which recognises and supports all those who do not conform to the binary gender norm of dyadic, cis-gender men and women.
In my 2049, no state, medical practitioner or psychologist cuts my right to self-determination. Anyone can change their legal gender marker without so-called experts writing reports about their ‘real’ gender, expensive court proceedings, or any other dehumanising procedure. Newborn babies are not classified as male, female or divers but can choose themselves if and what kind of gender marker they would like to have later in life. Changing or removing the gender marker is possible regardless of how one’s body looks, of biological difference, and is possible for everyone who lives in Germany, regardless of their nationality. This would be a small step towards dismantling gender.