Watch us on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xDXEynt4gCk
VIMÖ (Verein Intergeschlechtlicher Menschen Österreich) is the only intersex led human rights based intersex organisation in Austria. VIMÖ was founded by Alex Jürgen and Tobias Humer in 2014. VIMÖ work’s for political and social change to improve the situation of intersex people in Austria. For that reason VIMÖ is part of the Plattform Intersex Österreich, a networking platform consisting of paedagogic, therapeutic, journalistic and legal experts. With the help and information center VARGES they offer peer support for intersex people and their families as well as educational trainings for professionals and organisations.
- ViMÖ nGO website: https://vimoe.at/spenden/
- Allies: https://www.varges.at/
- Allies: https://oiieurope.org/
- Allies: https://www.okto.tv/de/tv/
- Intersex conference: https://intersex-conference.at/
- Movie recommendation: No box for me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ0mW1OQaK4
- Short film recommendation: Ponyboi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcqqaI-GJ1c
TIMEA: Hey Ramón!
RAMÓN: Hey Timea!
TIMEA: Let’s talk gender equality.
RAMÓN: I love the idea. Gimme a second. I just got to grab my coffee. I hope you’ve got yours too.
TIMEA: Yeah, right here.
RAMÓN: Welcome back everybody to another episode of gender equality over coffee. If you missed the last episode, we were joined by Luan who is here once again today, for which we are so grateful. And today we’re going to go into more detail on the organization that helps organize, which is VIMÖ. The, and I want to try to get this right. So please allow me Verein Intergeschlechtlicher Menschen Österreich . How would I do.
RAMÓN: Wow. First try to I’m very happy. Thank you. Yes, Luan, please. Could you yeah, give us, give us the history of, of VIMÖ. Did you, did you found it? Stuff like this? I’d love to hear all about it.
LUAN: Yeah, so VIMÖ is the only intersex led organization in Austria. And it’s based in Linz. It always does. And in Vienna VIMÖ was founded in 2014 by Tobias Humer and Alex JÃ¼rgen. They were the first intersex, publicly open intersex people in Austria. And they founded this organization and the vision is to stop nonconsensual, intersex, surgeries, and treatments, and to give intersex people Like a discrimination free life and in, in Austria. Yeah. What we are doing. So we do many different kinds of work. So basically from community work, We we make events. We also had already, I think three intersex conference is the first one was in Salzburg and the second and the third one was in Vienna in, in, in Rathaus. To get with the must anti-discrimination office of the city of Vienna. We also have, of course just intersex only events. Where we meet where we can talk right now, of course, every single online, but it’s very important also to go further the step in the time of the pandemic, because intersex people are most of intersex people. They’ve very isolated. So it’s really important to meet with them, even though it’s online. Of course, we also do a lot of peer counseling. So we have a group we like have peer counselors where people can come and just talk with us and to find ways for them, how to cope with the situation with the history. with, The part of they found out they are intersex and they found out what happened to them when they were a child, but also of course topics of how can I change my gender marker and things like we do a lot of education. We were in schools in universities. We also work To get of his companies, how they can be more open like also on the part of language what is important, how they should speak and you know, Or like, you know, names of chosen names or that like everybody should put their pronouns and a signature of email address or things like that. Of course we are doing a lot of political work. We. We try to work together with with the green party, with the social Democrats with Neos to change. Change the life of intersex people in Austria. It’s not always easy. As I said in the last episode that the gender marker was just possible because I’ve actually been to court, so had three years of court process and it was just. Then possible. So we hope we do not need that for the stop for intersex, nonconsensual, intersex, surgeries, and treatments. Yeah. What else did we do so much?
TIMEA: I just want to say, wow. First of all, because you were founded a year, basically after we were, as with women Techmakers Vienna, but you did, you have a lot more impact and reach than we ever wanted or dreamed of having how many people are involved in the organization in order to have such a reach. And is everybody a volunteer basis?
LUAN: How many people are we?
TIMEA: And I mean, now the people who actually do the events and yeah,
LUAN: yeah. Like public out people, we are six. Right now we are six. Two are. Going in the part off the retiring as activists. So they say they have done, they have done enough. And the, they did a little break or
TIMEA: we also have our alumni’s.
LUAN: Absolutely. So we are six. Huh. People, they are actually do all the organizing stuff and the education and peer counseling and everything for VIMÖ in the peer counseling. We also have two parents, they do peer counseling for parents, for intersex people. And as I also said last time and and When I was in your show we also have like the platform, intersex, crystallize, where we have volunteers, they help us. And I think they are, we are also right now, like six, like plus the six from VIMÖ. So altogether we are 12. I think if I did not count right now,
TIMEA: definitely not 60 people or a hundred people that drive this super motivated impact. So that’s actually really impressive.
LUAN: Yeah. Yes. And until 2019, it was everything on volunteer basis. And now we have now we have a part-time position and getting geringfÃ¼gigestelle I’m sorry. I don’t know the English word. Tax-free 450 Euro per month. Right.
TIMEA: Oh, this is this limit that it’s from. Yeah.
RAMÓN: According to the dictionary. This is marginal employment.
LUAN: Yeah. Right.
LUAN: Yeah. Thank you. So we, we have that
TIMEA: well, congratulations. That means there’s more traction from outside, so you’re starting to see the impact.
LUAN: Yeah. Absolutely. We, we, we get we get funding. So it is, you know, it’s, it’s not.
TIMEA: Unknown anymore,
LUAN: but but we are able to have now a part-time position and this other position. And that is, that is for us, it is really amazing. And the others are working still as volunteers. But we do get money for workshops. We do.
TIMEA: Yeah, shout out to organizations and I mean here also companies that want to be sensibilize to this kind of topics. This is the right place to spend some money on.
LUAN: Absolutely. Yeah.
TIMEA: May I ask you, because you mentioned Maybe a small crash course to us and to our followers about the pronouns, the whole situations of pronouns, like I identify with she, her, but I’m already mentioned in the introduction of the podcast that he is he he’s. So why is this important one? And what are your pronouns?
LUAN: So I don’t use the pronouns. I’m Luan and yeah, that’s my name. And for me it is also, yeah, for me, it is very important that people just say my name. And I’m not using pronouns. I think it’s. You know, I like what I also said the last time, it is important to feel comfortable, comfortable in, in how you are and what you are. And and. And there is no pronoun for intersex. So yeah, no, neither the English or the German or whatever language has, a pronoun for intersex people, of course, because you know it it took many years that it has . People are recognized again, and that people intersex people got their now legal gender marker. So of course there is no language. And like, I don’t want to use a pronoun, what doesn’t fit myself and there is no pronoun, so that’s why I don’t use any proof, but of course there are also intersex people. They do identify as Female or as male. So of course they are then using pronouns. Like she, her and he, him that are also intersex people, they use the English pronoun they/them. And, and I think that’s the most important part that people can use the pronouns they identify
TIMEA: to have with the choice. Yeah. In first place. And why is it for example, important that I showcase this, for example, in my LinkedIn profile, for example,
LUAN: again? Sorry.
TIMEA: Why is it important that I, or Ramón to show our personal pronouns in the public on LinkedIn, for example?
LUAN: First of all, because I don’t know when I see you and when I see your Pronoun profile. I will not say because of your look, you must be female and your pronouns. Are she her? Because I don’t know. And I would never, I would never do that. So I, for me, it’s very important to ask people. And that’s why it is important that you show it in your profile. But also it is very important to show the society. We all can do that, so that not only intersex people or transgender people have to do it, it has something to do with solidarity. If we all do it, then there is not only this. Already very weird ooh. And now they also need that pronouns. No, it’s a solitary decision, you know, like it is important to, so we are, we are all together here on this earth and we should work together. And I don’t know, you know, you could also say you identify us as me and if you want to have a pronoun, like he, him, I would say that too, you know,
TIMEA: Yes, you would recognize it by using it and respecting me the same time with that. I see. Thank you very much for the crash course.
RAMÓN: I think there’s also something to be said for the fact that it is as, for example, for me, as I said, very easy to put my pronouns publicly at, at no at no cost to my own. It’s something that we can all do without, without much, you know, so many of these social profiles have bios where you can put your pronouns in without any yeah, without much difficulty. So I it’s something that I’ve been trying to do as well. I most recently put it in the signature of my email realizing I, you know, I, I, that’s a place where I hadn’t thought to put it. And it’s. You know, super easy. You just go into whatever client you prefer, just pick and you’re done. But I have found if I may touch upon this topic, please feel free to turn me down. I have found a lot of time that putting my pronouns in places comes, is confronted with derision from perhaps people around me. How w either derision or confusion and. I sometimes I, I sometimes feel, I mean, it’s, it’s a position for me in a very privileged place where I can just say, you know, all I have to do is explain why I’m doing it, but how would you recommend that? To be able to say, this is why I do it, and this is why you should too.
LUAN: Yeah, I think I already said it before. It’s a part of first of all of solidarity, You know, and and yeah, I think everybody should do it. And of course it’s also a part of you know, I don’t know, like, I don’t know, just from your name. If you are male or female or trans or inter or whatever, I don’t know it. So when I will answer, then I will just write you know, like in English it’s quite easier, but if I would write in German, then I would just write hello or Guten Tag, and then your full name because. I don’t know what what, what do you want to be or who you are, or, you know, I have no idea. And yeah, so that’s I don’t know. The English
TIMEA: in German is also fine.
LUAN: Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, so I think it is very important to show the people. In that way on one side, respect on the other side solidarity, and it’s also part of that a society needs to get used to it. So
TIMEA: raising awareness.
LUAN: Yeah, absolutely. I have like people I had had workshops with they now have a very great post under the signature. What says so how, what are their pronouns? And that they are very happy if You, you answer off this email when you also give your pronoun so that they can pronounce you correctly. It it’s really great. I love it. You know, it’s just, I had a virtual visit them two days and now they have they have on the signature then, you know, it’s amazing. I really like, yeah, that’s a
TIMEA: really hands-on.
LUAN: Yeah, absolutely.
RAMÓN: I am definitely going to iterate on that. Thank you.
TIMEA: I have to say that I started using my pronouns on social media. For example, after I first heard the one talking the fem.initiative at the Vienna university of economics and business to be honest, I was a bit shying away of doing that before, without really understanding why. Right. So I needed this. Context before doing something wrong. But I think at the end of the day, even if you don’t fully understand why you’re doing it, it’s still good to, to start this practice and then figuring it out or learn it later. So shout out to our followers now, you know? Yeah. And if I may, you mentioned the co-founder of the VIMÖ was the one that had this three year trial which ended or concluded with the fact that now I intersex is a gender marker. I didn’t recognize gender marker. Can I ask what does that now really mean in your day to day life? Is it related to having a checkbox on papers? Is it about job descriptions that get this X or D w tell me a little bit concretely, what does that mean for you? And
LUAN: So first, first of all, it’s it’s on the presses and on all documents. So then it is, that is very important. Of course, in the passport there you have the international sign, that’s the X and that’s every, like you have in, in the passport. But like, In Austria, you now have on your birth certificate and all documents inter it’s that’s sadly for the moment, it. You know, because the company is the banks. Even though the social insurance, you know, they are just working on that and they now need to figure out how they can put more. options in their IT system and all of them just talking all the time about it and that it’s so difficult and I just really don’t believe them because I’m yeah. So I, I do have a little bit of insight in that IT stuff and yeah, it’s not so easy. It’s it’s it’s not so difficult to customize something. I’m sorry to say that, you know, they just, I don’t know, maybe they don’t want, or it costs too much money. I have no, but they have to, so it’s step by step. They have to change it and yeah. So then it will be, you know, like everywhere it’s on my bank account and yeah, when I have to go into hospital or when I. I think
TIMEA: describe to university, which is what I heard that the other talk.
LUAN: Yeah. When you’re this yeah, this is the university everywhere, you know, and it’s important so that they will change now. Step-by-step their systems and, and make this options possible.
TIMEA: Thank you very much. But that’s, I think a very good start in the direction, in the right direction, as you were saying, it starts with the birth certificate which potentially gives now the opportunity to families and the doctors and everybody involved to have an option that is not necessarily binary black and white. That’s the first step, I suppose.
LUAN: Yeah, it is very important. And it’s also important that that there are different options, you know, so that parents you know, it’s, it’s not easy because they cannot choose. So the doctor has to. Have, have, have to put it in, but we do hope that we can get the check the possibility that there will be also the change that the parents can, can choose which gender marker they want to have without any surgeries. That’s the important thing. Yeah.
RAMÓN: This, this list of successes you’ve had. I mean, of course there are, there are some that I, as I understand, are still in progress. These, these surgeries now, Austria, you mentioned in the, in the previous episode, Austria was, was advised and let’s say very harshly advised harshly. I mean, strongly advised by other organizations to put a stop to these surgeries. It might understand correctly that these are now illegal.
LUAN: No, they are not, they are still not illegal. They are. Yeah, that’s the problem. They are still not deleted even though Austria got from the United nations. The
TIMEA: notice probably,
LUAN: or no, it was, I don’t know the English for the whole get.
TIMEA: Bashing that’s okay.
LUAN: Yes. From the committee of torture and in 2019 from the committee from the child rights committee that they have to stop these surgeries. And also now in 2021, there was a big review on the Austrian situation by the, like the UPR and They also said again, that Austria has to stop these surgeries, but for now they are still happening. And and also like the treatments, you know, it’s also, it’s, it’s a surgery, but it also treatments. They also just give hormones and things like that without fully informed consent and things like that. So it’s very important that they have to stop it. And that they have to give the full, like really the full information, what it means, like to take these hormones, to not take these hormones, whatever, to the intersex person and not just to the parents, you know? And. Like, you know, like 95% of the surgeries, they are still happening, they are not necessary. They are not medically necessary. They are there is, there are just one or two surgeries. They are really necessary. And there is one treatment what is necessary, but it’s not hormones. So it’s another kind of, of pills. And and this is the problem. And, you know, we are just, we are not talking about like, you know, five or six or seven people. We talk about 1.7% of the population, you know, 1.7%. And if you, like I said, last time, I’m a numbers person. And if you count, you know, how, how big is the population? 1.7%. It’s every 60 person is an intersex person.
LUAN: You know, not every 60 person has to go through surgeries. Thank God. Yes. Thank God. Yeah, absolutely. But a lot of times, So like every 60 person, I don’t know how many people you reach with your podcast, but yeah, you never know how many intersex people are listening.
TIMEA: I’m pretty sure. But university, I had colleagues that were intersex and had their own struggles. Pretty sure our events. There could have been somebody who participated and was intersex. It could have been, there are people who don’t even know what’s going on with them and they need to find you VIMÖ to get informed because it’s all about having the choice and having the information and the access to it. I think first and foremost, and. Once you have the choice. Yes. You can still debate about it and make a, maybe a family decision. I don’t know, but have the choice, have the conversations. Right.
LUAN: That’s very important.
RAMÓN: So on that note, how, how do people usually find out about about VIMÖ? You mentioned in a previous episode you had a website, what kind of what, what kind of other other outreach does, does VIMÖ do.
LUAN: Yeah, writing a lot of articles like we do. Yeah, we really, yeah. We are in a lot in, in the media as well. Like in the Austrian media, but we. Yeah, like we are also a lot in Germany. Yeah. Do aradio show or podcasts. On the television in, we are in newspapers, you know, we, we just really try to do everything. And yeah, as I said, of course, when you, you know, when you go into schools, when you go into the university and you’re doing your workshops, you know, people of course Sometimes then realize, you know, like, Oh, that’s very interesting. Okay. I had, you know I had also had things like that and you know, in, in, in my, in my history, of course, we are also sending our flyers to. You know, to therapists also in hospitals, we don’t know if they are still there, but we do send them with hospitals. We sent them to other counseling organizations to other NGOs. Yeah. Well, we try everything to reach out and the community is getting bigger and bigger. So more and more people are joining our group, but not publicly official. That that’s very important.
RAMÓN: I agree. That is wonderful to hear. I think I would, I would love to know a little bit more since. You know, the we’re recording this in March, 2021. We’ve had the, we’ve been inside for just under a year. Now. I’m curious how, how has, right. Cause you mentioned earlier, you did some events online. I’m curious. How, how has that, how has that been different for, for VIMÖ and perhaps the, the, the attendance, have you seen a change in, in attendance? Over the last year.
LUAN: Yeah, of course we haven’t seen that because like we, we were like Austria quite you know, and we try to do our community events. Like we try to do, to manage, to get minimums rule for a BundeslÃ¤nder. I do.
RAMÓN: I think, sorry, carry on like
LUAN: that. So we tried to do that, but of course we are not as most of us working as volunteers, we are not able to go like, you know, to have in every part of Austria and community event and now working online, you know, Like all members are coming, you know? So now also the people from Vorarlberg, you see the people from Burgenland and, you know, things like that, because if you do a community and event important Burgenland the people from Vorarlberg not coming, you know, it’s like six hours, seven hours, eight hours, you know, it’s, it’s too much for. For an evening or something like that or for a date. So yeah, it, it changed. And so now like all of them can meet, but of course we also see that it is important to meet in person again. So I, and I think it’s not only our community. I think everybody, after this year now really needs physical contact and people and to chat and to hang out and to cuddle. And I don’t know. Yeah. So I really that’s. I think that’s really important now. And yeah. Hopefully it will be possible. It will be possible in 2021.
TIMEA: Let’s hope. So we also miss our conference face to face conferences and I have to admit I’m missing hugging my friends.
LUAN: Yeah, absolutely. I miss that too. I haven’t done that since a year, you know? Yes. You’re not doing it anymore. You know, everybody’s just like
TIMEA: maybe most an elbow touch.
RAMÓN: It’s not the same.
LUAN: I’m not doing that anymore because Boris Johnson is doing it.
TIMEA: Okay, good
LUAN: doing that anymore.
RAMÓN: It’s a good reason not to do it.
RAMÓN: This, this, this I think, I think these, these, these two episodes have been extremely eyeopening and, and enlightening for us. And I think, I think having, as I said, last time, having these conversations is so important and I’m really grateful. I have to admit when, when
TIMEA introduced me to you as a, as a, as a guest, as a potential guest, I hadn’t heard about VIMÖ and, and it made me realize. This is sharing from my personal experience. I hope that’s okay. That I, that I should try and focus my, my, my vision more locally. I think there’s a lot to be said for that because international organizations are very important, but local ones, especially coming out of a pandemic situation probably will carry even more weights in the future. Yeah. And, and, you know, the, the successes that you’ve had. Already with, with VIMÖ have been so significant for, for, for intersex people. I’m I I’d love to hear if I may ask how, how does the roadmap look for, for, for the future, but what events do you have coming up that you would love to share with our listeners today?
LUAN: So we, we have to vision of having a fourth.Intersex conference in Vienna. Yeah, wonderful. 2022, maybe now 2023. We don’t know right now, but we definitely want to have another conference we of course want to have, or we will have intersex, only meetings.
TIMEA: Sorry to interrupt. So the conference everybody’s welcome.
TIMEA: Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.
LUAN: The conferences are always public conferences and we always have great and amazing guests international guests. But also like the last conference we had the FRA. So people from the fundamental rights agency there. We had great intersex activists from Germany, from the United States, from Bulgaria, from like, yeah, really from everywhere.
TIMEA: Ramón. Are we going?
RAMÓN: I would like to, yes.
LUAN: And we also, like we had we had the light screening with Okto TV. Okay.
RAMÓN: With what? Sorry.
LUAN: Okto TV. I think it’s it’s a TV channel in Austria. It’s like a small TV channel in Austria, but they, they do really great and amazing work and they are great supporters of us and they they streamed our conference live.
RAMÓN: Wow. So, so you could see the whole conference and that was amazing. Wow. On there. On on their general Yeah. And of course we also had people from the city of Vienna and of course the vast speakers and yeah. It’s great. And we want to have that again. We want to have intersex only Events and meetups. There’s so many great movies out right now. We want to have movies streaming again. And of course also being at the pride, what is also very important for us and we didn’t have last. Year’s always
TIMEA: because I’m a big fan of watching movies. Can you maybe tell us one that you. Prefer that I don’t know. You watching your community doesn’t have anything to do with gender equality topics. No. Others just random general blockbusters,
LUAN: the movies. We don’t know what they are. Of course intersex.
TIMEA: Okay. Do you know of any great one that you want to share?
LUAN: Does definitely no box for me. It’s a French and a French movie, but you can not watch it. So buy it. And we have to, we for two years, so we can also stream it or show it. It’s also on 26, it’s a French German. A movie about two intersex people
TIMEA: and this sort of a movie watching is also open to everybody, or it’s just something you do for your community. Okay. There’s so many cool events to get information on this.
LUAN: No box for me me, we did an online streaming in 2020, like I think three, three times. Okay. Yeah, you can always check that out on our website when we do an online streaming. And yeah, there are a lot of other movies that now it’s like, you can also have like little, like short ones on YouTube, like pony boy. It’s also really great. It’s from the United States. Okay. Yeah. So that’s so many,
TIMEA: three reference are already amazing. We’re gonna try to put them in the show notes.
RAMÓN: I am, I am vigorously taking notes on these. I, I, I am so happy to see that there’s also such a vibrancy for art and culture and communication in that direction as well. And that, and that you as a community, celebrate that too. That’s it’s something that, doesn’t it. I think it’s. Sorry. I think I’m I think, I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s, it’s really good to see that, that, that there’s that as a community, you also celebrate each other and pull each other upwards. I think it’s something that’s perhaps easy to forget in, in a, in a, in a social justice, cause that there’s also cause for celebration and, and. Yeah, so
LUAN: absolutely. And that is, that is very, very important. And that’s also a very important part on our community events. That is we do celebrate us a lot.
RAMÓN: Amazing. Thank you. One thing that, that, that I. I kept telling myself I got to ask this and then I kept forgetting because I was so interested by this conversation. Is it, is it fair to assume that these events are mostly held in German?
LUAN: Like from VIMÖ? Yes. From VIMÖ? Yes. The, yeah. So they went from VIMÖ Mostly in German. Of course, at the conference, we do have a translator. We, we always have translate English, German and we also always have sign language, like chairman sign language .
LUAN: So that’s very important for us. And we were able to do that the last years from the organization, intersex international Europe, I’m working in Berlin of course it’s everything English. Yeah. So, yeah. And Yeah, the events here are in English. We, we also have translators, you know, in like Russian or English and things like that. But they are held in English.
RAMÓN: That is, that is incredible. You know, it, inclusivity is, is such a key factor to this. And it’s wonderful to see that, that, that, you know, that even for, for people who are, for example, hard of hearing that you, as an organization, think of them, that’s, that’s remarkable and very inspiring, inspiring. So thank you. One thing that I was missing was the name of the conference. Is it always the same? When you hold it.
LUAN: It’s a good question. In the last years it was always like intersex conference. I think it wasn’t different. So, yeah. And the other site called community event and the big community the big community from Ori Europe is called Ori Europe community event. So yeah.
TIMEA: Okay. That’s easy to find. Perfect. I think we’ve kept you long enough today. We are recording in the evening. We are very, very thankful for your time that you spend with us and your patience with us and we podcasts get well, we were just at the beginning with our podcasts. I have to admit. Feel free to, to see us in the future as your partners, we would like to promote your events spread the word out there. I think only together we can reach a bigger impact. I mean, you already do amazing things and you have a very good reach. Still. There can be more. And we would like to to show up, but your confidence Ramón we’re going, and we can learn something from you from just about if it comes to the point of how an inclusive conference or community event should be created and done. So just on that aspect, I want to see even more inclusive conference for a change to learn from. So, thank you very much from
LUAN: welcome every time. You’re very welcome. Thank you very much for the invitation. Yeah. Good luck. Hopefully see you soon again.
RAMÓN: I would like that very much. Thank you everybody for listening and all the best. See you soon.
TIMEA: Are you on the forefront of gender equality? You are invited on our podcast.
RAMÓN: That’s right. Or maybe you know somebody that we could have a chat with on gender quality. You should totally get in touch with us. We’re on Twitter @GenderCoffee. Or any of the other contact methods on our show notes, we would love you to get in touch and for us to have a chat.