Rainbow family with a trans part
“When adults make a drama out of it, it also becomes a drama for children”
Jj Link is a non-binary parent. In the interview, Jj talks about the path to his own gender identity and how the topic is handled in the family.
Jj Link, pronounced “Jay-Jay” (the name stands for Jj’s first and last name Jasmin Janosch) is non-binary – and it’s a challenge for some people in the beginning. As the name suggests, our binary gender system knows exactly two genders: male and female. But people like Jj see themselves as none of them.
Jj has two children aged 10 and 13. In the interview, Jj talks about finding the right words for one’s own gender identity and why children are not the big challenge when it comes to queer topics – but adults.
Non-binary is still unknown to many people
“One thing about non-binary is that many people do not know it, and it is unusual for anyone to describe themselves as ‘neither or’ or ‘between’ or ‘both’,” says Jj. Jj has over time found a good way to explain his own gender identity safely and quickly, should it become a topic of conversation. “The more confident you are with such explanations, the easier it is for other people to swallow what I want to say,” Jj has learned. This is meant to keep the “moment of horror” when people notice that they are not getting anywhere in the conversation with Mr. or Mrs. Link, as briefly as possible. “I then say, ‘Hi, my name is Jj. I lived like Jasmin for 35 years, that’s my email address, but I do not use the name anymore, I would be happy if you Jj to me to say.'”
“In between, my kids called me Mamosch”
The German language has no designations for people like Jj: no pronouns like “is” or “sie”, no established gender designations like “Herr” or “Frau” nor any designations like “Mama” or “Papa”. Non-binary people simply do not yet exist in the German language.
So you have to be creative yourself. “With my kids, I lived with ‘mom’, at least for the most part. We were all just used to that.” Meanwhile, family members have tried “Mamosch”, a mix of Jj’s desired middle name and “Mama” – but it didn’t really work out.
Jj has been on transition for seven years, taken hormones and had a flat breast surgery. “I’m going from a female-read human to a non-binary human,” Jj explains. As a result, Jj – if one wants to stick to the binary categories – tends to look more masculine, which also leads to entertaining situations with the kids: “I think it’s a little fun when there are apparently only men in a group, but one of my children ‘Mother!’ calls and I turn around. “
Children are open until suspicious adults join them
Non-binary is not a big issue in Jj’s family: “I did not explain so much to my children that I am non-binary. Children are used to parents explaining the world to them. When my parents tell me as if I had explained to a child that there are male, female and non-binary people, I would have accepted it in the same way. ”
Instead, Jj tried to explain to the adults around his own children what non-binary is all about, for: “Only when other adults make a drama out of something does it also become a drama for the children.” Jj is aware that non-binary is something special, “but I think that if children have a basic understanding that people are different and that everyone has their quirks, then they can handle it well.”
It is also important to explain to children that not everyone can imagine or even know about topics such as non-binary – and that there are certainly people who would be surprised by it. “It just doesn’t happen that often,” Jj says. But it is all the more important to draw attention to this because non-binary is a reality in life like any other.