Expertes Genre

Three questions to Jena Selle, LGBTQIA+ artist and activist

Jena Selle

Civil Society LGBTQIA + artist and media activist - Nos Voix Trans

Jena Selle is an executive assistant and an activist on LGBTIQIA+ issues in France. She hosts two podcasts on these topics: “Nos Voix Trans (Our Trans Voices)” and “Un Podcast Trans (A Trans Podcast)”.

On the occasion of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) which took place from June 30 to July 2 in Paris, Jena Selle shared with us her activist commitment, particularly in favor of Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) for all and the consideration of the needs and concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community at events such as the GEF.

Gender Experts: Since the end of 2020/beginning of 2021, you host two podcasts « Nos Voix Trans » and « un Podcast Trans ». What led you to create these two podcasts? What are they talking about?

Chronologically, “Un Podcast Trans” was created first, in October 2020, at the initiative of a friend, Niléane Dorffer. The idea was to capture what it would be like if you could listen to a phone conversation in a group of trans people and have it be as innocuous as possible, so that the audience could see that trans people are not just talking about being trans. This results in conversations that are usually quite light-hearted, although not all the time, on a wide variety of topics: culture, daily life, etc. Sometimes trans-identity comes up in conversation because it is inevitably part of our lives, but it is not the heart of the matter.

The other podcast that I host is called « Nos Voix Trans ». It was launched in February 2021. I wanted to approach more serious, more intimate subjects, by asking a trans person, and in particular a trans person who is an activist or who has been an activist in the past, how he or she lives, what has been his or her journey so far, how he or she discovered his or her transidentity. In general, it allows us to see the lack of representation of trans people in the media, whether it is journalistic media or fiction. If she/he wishes, we discuss her/his transition journey and spend a lot of time detailing how she/he takes care of herself/himself, how she/he accomodates to remain an activist after all the debates with transphobic people, coming out to family etc.

In “Un Podcast Trans,” I am there as “me,” as a person who has gone through a transidentity journey, but also as an activist, as a person with a professional life.

In “Nos Voix Trans”, my role is more to be a megaphone for someone else, so I try not to put myself forward.

Gender Experts: You are committed to access to medically assisted reproduction for all. On June 29, the bioethics law was adopted by the Parliament, including a measure opening the right to MAR to all cisgender women (editor’s note: whose gender identity corresponds to the gender assigned at birth), including single women and female couples. How do you perceive the adoption of this measure?

The opening of MAR to all cis women is a victory, but as was the case with the “Mariage pour tous” law (editor’s note: the law which legalized gay marriage in France) in 2013, it is a partial victory. That is, a victory only for one part of the population that excludes another part of the population. It was necessary to give pledges to the Catholic right, which was done at the expense of transgender people and it is a big disappointment. The bioethics law authorizes medically assisted procreation for single women and cisgender couples. However several questions were not approached, in particular that of a necessary reform of the filiation system but also the protection of the people, and in particular of the children, intersexes which it either was not taken into account.

The opening of MAR to all cis women is a victory, but as was the case with the “Mariage pour tous” law in 2013, it is a partial victory.

JENA SELLE, ARTIST AND LGBTQIA+ ACTIVIST

Gender Experts: The Generation Equality Forum, a global gathering for gender equality organized by UN Women and co-chaired by Mexico and France celebrating 25 years of the Beijing Declaration, takes place from June 30 to July 2. Do you feel that the voices of people active in LGBTQIA+ struggles are sufficiently heard and listened to at such events? What are the ways to make them more so?

As a matter of principle, the voices of minorities are never sufficiently heard. Particularly on the subjects dealt with by UN Women, the very writing of the documents produced by this organization is, in general, extremely cis-centric ((editor’s note: taking into account only the needs and realities of people whose gender identity conforms to the sex they were assigned at birth), only takes into account the realities of transidentity when the document is devoted to this subject. And this is a bias that many institutions have, both governmental and associative. Whereas trans women are women like any other, who also have issues of sexual and reproductive health, safety, street harassment, etc. In fact, they should also have a place in these discussions. So we need to include more people who are not cis, who are not heterosexual, people who are not white, people who are not undocumented immigrants. Keep in mind at all times, the question: “we are around the table or in a Zoom conversation, are we all alike or do we have differences?

In principle, quotas are mathematical, so it is not a solution that I consider optimal, but it must be admitted that parity is considered a victory in political terms, so without going as far as mathematical quotas, systematically ensuring that an effort has been made at the time of the constitution of the panel, of the festival, of who is going to be on stage, so that we don’t all look alike, seems to me to be an essential first step.