Politics, laughter, weather, surprised screams, trans women tolerated but not accepted by cis men. We moved between Malmö, Berlin, Argentina, Brazil and yes, all over the world.
In the pink-purple glow that characterizes PAGE 28's bookstore, people thronged to listen to the conversation with Camila Sosa Villada, trans woman and writer who flew all the way to Malmö from Argentina. It was our first writer's talk in our (own) new premises. The first and certainly not the last. The conversation took place under the purple arch, close together, chairs standing close, legs and knees hitting other legs and knees.
One could hear words and phrases, conversations and discussions in Spanish, English and Swedish. Between the words, the phrases, the conversations and the discussions, you could hear the pauses - the scratching of the pen over the notebook, the translator's pauses to write down and interpret from Spanish to Swedish, from Swedish to Spanish. It therefore becomes the norm in the small bookstore with delayed laughter and smiles. Those who understood both Swedish and Spanish had the privilege of laughing twice as much, the rest of us - well we just had to join in and laugh later.
Central themes that took place during the evening ranged from desire and sexuality linked to trans women and trans bodies, depictions of violence in Sosa Villada's novel Nocturnal animal - the violence that takes place but does not take over, joy, pleasure, a nuanced view of sex work, sisterhood and cisheteroman who want all this by trans women. Of course, these themes are topped with elements of magical realism - as the finishing touch.
Sexuality has long been and still is something that trans people are exploited for. Transgender sexuality is seen as something outside the norm, something that not only stretches but also explodes and goes beyond the boundaries of what is pushed into the concept of "normality". Thus, trans people have had to turn to erotic literature to examine themselves and their bodies. No one has been there to ask and answer all the thousands of questions.
Sosa Villada talked about how trans people in Latin America, but also around the world, are always losers. Trans people always lose, it's just a matter of choosing what and when to lose - losing is inevitable. In response, Alvina asked a clever question: "How can you handle life without falling apart?" to which Camila smiled and replied that “it's inevitable to break up. We [trans people] lose friends, our youth, loves, families, the sense of belonging” and so much more.
Trans=sex work=probably dead (young)
This strange mathematical expression that should not be true is also inevitable for trans people in Latin America, Sosa Villada believes. It is inevitable at that level for transgender people to survive. Intersectionality in Nattdjur is elevated to another dimension when the narrator struggles from a class perspective and, on top of everything else, the author shows how transgender people easily fall between the cracks when it comes to the class issue, too.
Trans people's sacrifices and inevitable disintegration are rooted in, or rather also lead to, a sense of rootlessness. You don't feel like a whole piece - there are always different parts of yourself that are distributed within different dimensions. You are never complete with and within your education, among friends or as a sex worker. "But at the same time, if I had been [whole], I would have either died as a sex worker or not been able to be myself completely," emphasizes Sosa Villada. And oh, how it went straight to the heart. This endless struggle and desire to be whole, to be completely part of something, it's not easy, it's impossible and it's not least a big lie. We are all parts that are distributed and fragmented across different dimensions and together we form a whole.
Cisheteroman was of course part of the conversation. And while Sosa Villada and Chamberland agreed that cisheteromaniacs are a heterosexual failure that is broken by and through transwomen's love, sex, and relationships, there is something beautiful about the encounter between a transwoman and a cisheteroman, they said. The men then show something beautiful and rare, another side of themselves that they don't (dare) show to the rest of the world. In this way, Villada argued for how trans people have a privileged view of society as they, while being rejected by society, get to see what is not (allowed to be seen) seen in the light of day. It is when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere that you really see society properly, from the outside, from the substitutes' bench.
Towards the end of the conversation, a discussion was held about the importance of representation also within the publishing world. Transgender people should not only be part of the literature but also be behind the production in order to be able to invest in and publish transgender stories, which are not always prioritized.
The bottom line is this: it was an incredible conversation with incredible people and an incredible audience. It was a true honor to have Camila Sosa Villada and Alex Alvina Chamberland visit our little bookstore. Heavy and difficult subjects were treated with a fingertip caution but also with humor and a beautiful and everyday language.
We from PAGE 28 would like to thank everyone who was there and listened and laughed and clapped and shared the memory of our first author talk in our new premises at Karlskronaplan 11 with us. Of course, a big compliment to the author Camila Sosa Villada, the moderator Alex Alvina Chamberland and not least the interpreter Mayarí Cantoni.
For those of you who missed this evening, don't worry, we will have more wonderful talks and events in the bookstore. In addition, with us you can buy your own copy of the novel Nattdjur so come by the store or why not order Nattdjur directly via our new online store? Let yourself be absorbed by the magic words! And if you want to experience the conversation itself, that's also possible - click on our Soundcloud and let yourself be absorbed by the voices, the thoughts, the words, the conversation.