Illustration © Nikki McClure

contentarea top menu

"Gender trouble/fun". An email interview with Trouble X, from Germany

Grassroots media in Europe
LGBT and queer issues
Queer feminism
Teaser Image: 


52° 31' 24.528" N, 13° 24' 41.3784" E

Can you introduce yourself?

hey! i’m 33 years old now, was born and raised as a White middle-class kid in a small town at the countryside of west-germany, close to the netherlands. after lots of trial-and-errors of how i wanted to live, and a huge depression, i left everything back there and moved to berlin in 2001, where i still am. the best choice i’ve ever made. 

What do you do besides your zine? 

i’m trying to do as much radical queer left politics as i can. as i am bound to the need to pay rent and for food, i spend lots of time doing patches and buttons, which i sell on fleamarkets and parties. also, i’m into urban art, but not really active at the moment because of the huge “streetart-sellout-hype” in berlin. i love to spend time on my own and to discuss (radical queer left) politics with others. i also love to start new projects.

Can you tell our readers about your zines? What topics do you cover? How is the zine put together and distributed?

TROUBLE X is a d.i.y.-comic-zine, most of the time trying to deal with radical left/queer topics, like gender-trouble/fun, left/queer activism, variant forms of discrimination, love and the so-called queer (party-)scene in berlin. and snails. of course. i love snails. you can read the comix online or pick up a copy at several places or ask (e-mail) me for one or two. i don’t charge for them, because i feel, like i have something to say and i am lucky if some-one is willing to listen to me. but i love to swap. ;o)

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?

actually a friend asked me if i wanted to do the backside of a magazine, ze was publishing at that time. i only did a single comic before, only to try if i could do one. so i took the opportunity to say and draw whatever i liked and to be published at the same time.

the name TROUBLE X comes as a reference to my gender-fluid content when i started the project. (and i still have troubles with all the xx’s and yy’s when it comes to gender...) 

What do you hope to accomplish through your DIY projects?

i hope to gain more awareness of the multiple variations of genders/humans and the different privileges that come with that. because i think if you start to deconstruct social systems, like gender, hierarchies, discrimination and routines of speech and behaviour- which cement these constructions- you can never stop asking what else lays behind any system/construction...

i think any system only works because we all work. i hope to make people be more open and careful with each other. i want people to listen to the experiences, needs and wounds of each other.

What do you love about zines? Are there any aspects you find challenging or limiting in the zine community

there’s a zine about anything – that’s amazing! you “only” have to look for it, or maybe you have to try really hard to get a copy... and if you don’t find one, you still can make one!

the negative or problematic aspect of making/reading zines is that you have to have access to the resources- ideas, paper, pencil, any copy-machine, money, access to the internet, including computer and software. and so on.

i only have a slight insight to “the zine-scene” because i personally swap most of the zines through contacts i get through the internet. most zines i know are from western europe and some are from canada and the u.s. because of that, i don’t actually know the backgrounds of most of the zine-makers...

Do you consider feminist zines as part of a social movement? Do you think feminist zines can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?

in my opinion any social movement gets its power through the individuals! so, if any feminist zine manages to reach any young girl (for example) in some corner, who feels alone and that there’s something really wrong going on, and this zine manages to empower that one girl to start to speak up for herself, and to question (the) gender-hierarchies (for example) – to me that is a huge achievement! even if it’s only a start. it all begins in ourselves.

it is more important then ever to broadcast feminist topics through zines, as zines have the freedom to be as radical as possible. that freedom lies only within zines, because for example (the makers of) books, the internet, tv-shows or magazines nowadays know that “a little bit of feminism” is important to show, but not as much as is needed to really change anything within the mainstream-society. and these mediums all have to follow their restrictions of censorship and/or the need to be “marketable” as well.

Do you see yourself as part of “DIY” or “Third Wave Feminism” and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or, why not?

i’m not sure if i feel a part of anything, because i easily feel alienated to most things/groups/whatever at some point. but i guess i am d.i.y. because most of my life is d.i.y. and i want to empower people to do anything they like to (as far as it’s not harming others) and not to listen to the “experts” or to people that say “you are not allowed to”. i guess that’s what makes d.i.y. d.i.y. i don’t know if i am, but i want to be part of that.

and i want to be a feminist, too! because the more i (as a private person) am alienated from any gender, the more important it is to me to stay/become a feminist. as i can see, there are actually many (queer) people (in berlin) who fight for the rights of queer and trans*-people and the right/freedom to be/perform any gender you like, but somehow “forget” that there still are huge gender-hierarchies that need to be fought against. and not only outside “our queer utopia” there’s still that White male-dominated society, in which most of “us” are raised and where we internalized all patriarchal systems from...

What are the most pressing issues for you in daily life?

i’m not sure. i’m pretty good in hiding from any “outside world”...
i guess at the moment i struggle the most with (my) gender and people being “unaware” of anything. many times it seems to me, that i’m nearly the only person, seeing and/or feeling, that something is going wrong here/there and am frightened and exhausted by that “gift/burden” i have. i like to criticise or politicise things but at the same time know/fear how that makes me not the person many people like to meet/see/befriend/have in their group...
but i guess it’s also a choice you make every single day. do i prefer to stand up and fight for my rights/wishes/dreams and at the same time be alienated from many people/groups or do i want to part of a system/group/(sub-)culture that does not really respect me and my point of view?

sometimes i want a save snail-shell around me, everywhere i go.
thus bordercrossing is a huge topic to me and how to deal with your own pain, when there’s so much else to do. sometimes i worry what will come next to me. will i have enough ideas/power to face society and to feed me at the same time? i hate the fact, that somehow, no matter what i do or how i live, i have to sell myself or parts of me to survive...

What would a woman-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-thought and transformed to be a safer, better place for women, grrrls, transgender and queer folks?

that’s not an easy question for me, as i neither identify as any gender. my dream is that someday everybody is able to live, choose and change the gender ze likes. but when i take a realistic look at my White german reality, i doubt that to happen in the close future. as i think the first steps to take are the ones concerning raising awareness. when people grow up like me, they are taught that everybody is (supposed to be) equal and that everybody really is. but that this is only a good wish is something that you have to find out yourself. people need to be taught that people are not equal by just saying so, but how they are treated and their access to resources (in a capitalistic system like, the one, i was born into).

tolerance is a word often used, to make people not communicate. many folks do not know how real the differrences are that are taught to us. it is a word used not to deal with people that are different from me. it puts people in boxes, through prejudices. i think we have to question and redefine the meaning of tolerance. it should mean interest, respect and communication. we have to learn to listen to each other.

another important step for me is to gain a certain point of community accountability. every single person should be aware of hir own responsibility for hir actions/behaviour. most of us grow up in societies that teaches us who is a “bad” person and who’s not. i believe, that there is not such a thing. it all comes down to how we act/behave (in special situations). i have to be aware and question myself at the same time, if my individual actions/words are respect-/hurtful to others or not. it’s about taking responsibility through raising awareness and about supporting who needs and wants support. it’s not about finding excuses, it’s about dealing with what i do/what i’ve done/what happened. and it’s about teaching, listening, learning and supporting each other.

but before we do all these things we have to learn about ourselves. we have to find out, who we are and what we want, where our personal borders are and how we can make them clear to others without hurting or defending. we have to learn to respect others, with their personal borders/scars/abilities/... and we have to learn to be honest to ourselves. am i really able to do/give/live what i want? am i willing to permanently learn about myself and others? because no society is a stable one. progress only comes through learning, questioning and try-and-errors... 

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you would like to share them?

i would like to improve my drawing/writing skills. learn more about me, myself and i. i definitely have to educate myself concerning critical Whiteness/racism/lookism and so on. i would like to read/travel more.

Trouble X, comic maker
Red Chidgey & Elke Zobl
Show on calendar: