Léah Miller: Queer Identity Within Gendered German, pt.2

group of people standing and sitting outside building

Christopher Street Day! (Berlin Pride) So wild that I happened to be in town for this, but I wish I had more advance knowledge so I could have prepared to talk to more people.

I am struggling to write this post, because I am not as far along as I would like to be in my process, and I don’t feel like I have too much to report. However, I am glad to have this blog post deadline as a marker to check in on my progress. I feel somewhat lost in the details. This is my first official research project of this scale, and I went in with passion but not much clarity. At this juncture, I am thinking about how to bridge my broader questions with the smaller data I have from individuals.

Early on in my interviews, I was concerned about finding queer and trans subjects who could provide a perspective I was missing and hoping for. I am grateful that I found a few to talk to before I left the city. I really need to be in the writing and thinking stage, but I am still trying to figure out the logistics to be able to talk to a few more subjects, as I was connected with some non-binary and queer German-speakers just as I left Germany. I am hoping to send them an online questionnaire with my interview questions so I can at least get some of their important perspective in the mix. It’s been really interesting to see the cultural and linguistic similarities between how I describe my gender journey and how these Germans do, even as these things are so deeply personal and individual.

I’ve been reading the awesome Craft of Research book we were given for this project and noticing a lot of red flags in my process, due to my inexperience. I feel like I’m swimming through my own muck of data, without having felt capable of finding my beacon of guiding clarity with a distinct research question. Given this, I am having a hard time sorting through my transcribed interviews to piece together a viable narrative. This update is somewhat melodramatic, but I am grateful for every step of this process—I feel myself learning and growing so much as an academic and as a generally curious person. Even though it scares me, I am looking forward to buckling down in the upcoming weeks and pulling it all together for the final paper. I know it will.

Two examples of ways to show gender for profession nouns. This is one of the things that came up the most in my interviews. All professional titles in German are gendered, unlike English’s “teacher” or “student” or “doctor.”

I made sure to visit the Schwules Museum before I left. It was really interesting to see what they included in the small space.