New book looks at transgender experience in Czech society

Tereza Spencerova, photo: CTK

"I'm just trying to describe the current situation of our minority here in Czech society - I mean the transgender minority - because I think the situation could, for sure, be much better."

Tereza Spencerova,  photo: CTK
Journalist Terzea Spencerova there, talking about her newly released book "Jsem trand'ak," or "I'm a Transsexual," about the difficulties and experiences of the transgender community in the Czech Republic. Tereza Spencerova herself underwent a sex change operation, and she is active in Transforum, the first official organization for transgender people in Central and East Europe. My colleague Dean Vuletic spoke to Tereza Spencerova on Monday, and began by asking her about Transforum, which is currently celebrating its fifth anniversary:

"We founded it five or six year ago. I remember, for sure, that it was at the end of May. From its first days it was a really great success, because in a couple of weeks from the beginning we had approximately three hundred members. And people were happy just to meet each other, and just to break out from some ghetto, from isolation. I think that this, until now, is still our major success, that we managed to break the isolation of people in society. Now we have some small groups in Brno, Olomouc, Ostrava and Plzen, in the big cities. We started here in Prague, but we can now say we have some branches all over. And people are not so alone today."

What are the reactions of the authorities and the political establishment to your group, and to your community? Are they receptive? Do they listen to your ideas?

"No, no, no. I'm afraid they are not interested in anything regarding us. We tried several times to contact members of parliament and so on, with no answers. It's very hard to be heard here. Especially for us. I don't know about other minorities here, how they do it, but we are not very successful in this field."

Now to the title of your book, "Jsem trandak." This word "trandak" was actually adopted by the transgender community itself. Can you explain its origins?

"As I remember, this word just appeared somehow. I describe the situation in my book. I'm really happy that we first made a word for ourselves in this world. Even some two weeks ago I heard it on TV, when the comedian Mr Izer used this word "trandak" in a situation in which he was describing transgender people. For me, it was a like a great victory, that someone from the straight population is starting to accept us... maybe."