Eris Koleszar


Omaha, NE

Transilient: So what do you do?

ERIS :  “That’s a big question! Um, well, that’s something I have been thinking about a lot actually. I just got accepted for a Master’s program in video game development and research in Germany. I just decided yesterday that I was not going to go.

Video games are a hobby and passion of mine that I love in some respects and hate in others. It’s something I have a knack for. I am a game developer now for a local studio. I taught myself. I played games all my life. I took a few classes, but I have always wanted to use it as a medium to connect people in unique and meaningful ways. I like games that bring people together in the same space. The program I got into is all about that.

I don’t know if you know the book, The Strengths Finder, but it tells you how you operate in the world. My top strength is belief. For me, the thing I am doing is not as important as what it does in the end. I am fulfilled when my work aligns with my core values. I have been thinking a lot about how these two things balanced out.

Once HB2 the bill in NC got passed. I got really upset and I didn’t know what to do but I wanted to do something. I knew when I texted friends with my frustrations that they’d respond with, “I wish I could do something.” I was mostly texting my cis friends and that’s exactly how they responded. I knew that folks with privilege were going to need to pull their weight on this. I didn’t want it to just be the people being attacked being the ones who had to defend themselves.

So, then I was like, what can they do? I had seen the bathroom selfie campaigns that mostly featured trans men floating around the internet. I understand that they were trying to be helpful but I really didn’t like it. They all felt like fear based tactics, passing privilege, framed men and especially trans men as predatory, and supported heteronormative ideas. So, I was like I want to do something like this, but something that I am comfortable with. So, I asked my cis female friends to take selfies with me in public bathrooms and post it on their social media and say: she belongs, she just wants to pee, and trans women are women. These are powerful statements. We tagged them ‪#‎shebelongs‬ and tagged the bills.

There are a few reasons I decided to not go to Germany. One is that I feel like this is a turning point in the United States for so many issues. Nearby, in Kansas, we are facing SB512 and HB2737 which are a bill pair targeted at colleges and high schools essentially. Basically, bounties are placed on trans folks heads. If a person finds someone in a restroom that doesn’t match their birth certificate. This is still ongoing so there is more work to be done. I have used the internet a lot to take a stand. Being able to talk and organize around what is going on can change the conversation sometimes. I think that standing up, answering news calls, educating others, and public speaking all feel like things I need to continue doing. I feel like I have to be an activist, it’s almost a compulsion. It’s just how I operate in the world. I want to stay here in the U.S. and be a part of the change.

I am super grateful for the community here and the people who have been a part of the campaign. There has been so much love thrown my way and I don’t think I could do the work I’ve done without that. Having the type of support network I’ve been given has been invaluable. It’s played a big role in my decision to not leave and go to Germany. “