September 23, 2020

Elizabeth Duval: “Being trans doesn’t mean that much in my life” | Babelia


In his country, Elizabeth Duval (Alcalá de Henares, 2000) is a media star. In Paris, on the other hand, she is just one more university student. The young writer is pursuing a double degree in Modern Philosophy and Literature at the Sorbonne, where she is based on a mass of students who carry tote bags and gobble paninis Vegans under the timid sun that enters the patio. “Paris is a way to get away from that existence as a public figure,” he writes in Queen (Trojan Horse), his first autobiographical novel, for lack of a better name. The book is both a self-fiction and a criticism of its immodest device. “It is a book reluctantly written, that does not want to be read. What interested me was to reflect on the difficult position in which it places you to sign a book like this, to tell a story with the morbid part that involves all literature of the self, “responds the author. In the book, which recounts his first months as a student in Paris, Duval relates how triptorelin is pricked to block testosterone production in his body. But also, or above all, he narrates his peculiar sentimental history with Aurore, the theses on the underground relations of his intimate friend Théo and his brief roll with Rebecca, a young woman who managed to base a good part of her postgraduate memory on which Sylvia Plath was lesbian and was eaten away by heterosexuality (the jury agreed with her).

The 17th-century art history professor has not shown up this March morning, so Duval – dressed in strict black, except for a fake red leather briefcase – takes the opportunity to answer emails on her next-generation Mac. A few meters away, two students argue: “Be suspicious of anarchism, Marion, you can’t do a teleological reading of history!” Along with them, two young teachers, facsimiles of Louis Garrel in a realistic version, they are engaged in another major dispute: “Enough of seeing everything as a relationship of domination! My wife, without going any further, exercises great intellectual power over me … “. It must be that place that, in the book, the author describes as “Sesame Street of militancy”. Duval’s life passes, like that of so many Literature students, in this territory bordering on parody, sipping teas on the terrace of the Paris Mosque – where he just reviewed Queen– and in the bars of bars such as Le Nouvel Institut, known for its pints at three euros, or La Petite, in the heart of Place de la Contrescarpe, epicenter of that unbearably picturesque Paris that is only tolerated by tourists.

Epigraph of Lacan and Derrida

Despite everything, his official domicile is in La Queue-en-Brie, a “contemptible town with a ridiculous name” – in slang, queue He is the manly member – located an hour and a half away from the center, where he shares a flat with another Spanish student paying 500 euros per head. Even so, the writer spends most of her nights in the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville – in territory foolor bourgeois bohème-, where his partner lives, a student whom he quotes in passing in the book and who ended up becoming more than a friend. “Despite my income, my parents continue to help me. If not, it would be impossible to continue in a city with such a high cost of living, ”he admits. He subsists without more luxuries than drinking canes and eating out, buying books and paying a monthly subscription for the cinema and an annual one for the theater. On Saturday the new of Bad bunny in an associative center of the neighborhood. Sunday he stayed home and saw The Cable Girls. On Monday he read Saussure and Bolaño. The epigraph of the book is signed by Lacan and Derrida. “At the beginning, it was going to be C. Tangana and Rosalía,” he confesses. In class, some Spanish-speaking classmates recognize her. Sometimes they call it “the star”. “I’m funny,” she smiles.

Two years ago, the writer divided her time between the French capital and Madrid. “They are two different nostalgias. Madrid shows that the past did not exist. Paris remembers it incessantly, “he says. Despite the proven dryness of the natives, the acclimatization process did not cost him. To begin with, he was fluent in the language – he started taking classes in 3rd of ESO and then moved on to the French section – and had a certain affinity for temperament. “I have a colder character than the Spanish average. In many cases, the distance of the French does not bother me as much. I tolerate the idea of ​​leaving the other person absolutely alone quite well. That almost neoliberal notion of the individual as an island suits me … “.

Duval, Monday in Paris.


Duval, Monday in Paris.

At sunset, Duval meets at La Plaine, a small bar with no attributes attached to the Père Lachaise cemetery, in that rickety Paris, but much more livable, where he spends his nights. He asks the North African waiter for two pints from 1664. “It is no longer coffee hours,” he decrees. Towards the end of the book, he writes: “What fiction is there in Paris to stay and deprive those you love of your presence? It seems that you want to find something in Paris that no longer exists, that ceased to exist long ago.” He refers to “that fantasy of Vila-Matas’ book”, which he parodies voluntarily, “to the fact of living in a small loft and in an effervescent cultural environment, among beautiful settings …”. Every adopted Parisian knows that this illusion soon fades away. Those who, having overcome this brutal disappointment, continue to appreciate what they have before their eyes, remain in the city. with 21-storey towers on the eastern edge of the city. Paris is a city full of ugly buildings, with a lot of noise and tremendous rigidity. Exams are the height of Cartesianism: they force you to develop your ideas with thesis, antithesis and yes synthesis. ”And yet here it goes.

“The genre has not disappeared”

In the book, Duval admits to missing a few things. For example, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. “Yes, although only when I’m drunk,” she points out. “He has gained points over time, regarding the degeneration of Felipe González, for example. There are eight million things that can be criticized and I have never voted for the PSOE, but I still consider Zapatero to be the best president we have had in a democracy ”. In Queen, the author also criticizes Paul B. Preciado, whom he strips of his status as untouchable by theory queer. It makes you ugly that, in your book An apartment in Uranus, the author writes that he does not consider himself “neither man nor woman”, but “a dissident of the gender-gender system” who despises those old categories. “We exchanged messages a few months ago, because he was upset when I called him lord in an article ”, says Duval, who apologized for his anger. “However, it is symptomatic that the intellectual spokesperson for the trans is always exercised by men, such as Preciado, Miquel Missé or Lucas Platero. They can claim non-binarity as much as they want, but at night they are not afraid when they return home. If you are the one who provokes that fear and not the one who feels it, you must realize that you are not in the position of the oppressed and that, whether you like it or not, you also exercise patriarchy, ”Duval responds. For her, the genre has not disappeared, but remains “as polarized as ever”.

The writer reacts to the irruption of that trans-exclusive feminism that marked the celebration of the past 8-M: “It seems sad to me, because this degree of violence prevents the emergence of a serene conversation on issues such as feminism, identities or gender as a system. , which are debatable topics. Pointing to transactivism as a Trojan horse within feminism seems absurd to me. It is explained by the dispute over the hegemony of feminism between the old guard and current trends, on the background of the political conflict between the PSOE and Podemos. ” Duval believes that this conflict arises from the importation into Spain “of Anglo-Saxon analysis and concepts” and that it is explained by “the mediocrity of the Spanish intelligentsia, their inability to generate their own ideas and contextualizations and their servility to the Yankee intellectual hegemony,” according to he recites reading a text from his mobile, which will be part of an essay on the trans issue that he prepares for 2021. “In reality, gender relations do not have to do, on a daily basis, with genitality. A huge number of the men who approach me on the street probably imagine me with a vulva. It is a matter of perception and not of reality, which does not support a fat brush analysis, ”says the author. “I am not afraid for myself, because I have a certain cultural capital, but that violence can be reproduced towards more vulnerable people. And that does scare me a little bit. ”

The suspicions aroused by his person, who has become the target of innumerable attacks on the networks in recent months, could be the product of a certain media overexposure, which started at the age of 14 with a remembered appearance in The intermediate. “It was a comfortable version of what being trans meant. I took advantage of it ”, he admits in the book. Towards the end of the interview, Duval will point to other factors. “It is a matter of envy and congenital frustrations of some people, and how they tend to belittle your achievements based on the labels that are socially assigned to you,” he says. For example, she hates being introduced as a transgender and lesbian writer. “What influence does that have on what I do? My new collection of poems could be written by a man … “, he says of Exception, recently published by Letraversal. “In Queen, the word trans appears a total of five times. Trans is a reality that has happened to me, but it doesn’t mean that much in my life either. I would not know how my existence varies due to the fact that I am trans, beyond having to wear a patch every so often ”. The book ends with the Notre Dame fire, despite the fact that in the end the cathedral does not collapse, depriving it of a tremendous outcome. He will end up finding another that equals or exceeds him: “I come from a long line: Don Quixote, Madame Bovary; Flaubert with alkaline blood,” he writes in that final stretch, where he will question the solidity of his own building. “And I don’t like living: I like to write things. Living is boring.”

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