Some of my earliest memories are of walks alone in tiny fractured habitats polluted by the military, a profound love for the living beings I met there and a burning desire to protect them from the devastation I saw all around me. Decades later, that revolutionary flame still burns strong. Exposed to radical left politics in my early 20s I embarked on a journey of social centres, squats and queer spaces, of gatherings and protest camps and uprisings. The grassroots, revolutionary movement building I saw, and participated in changed me forever. I spent years mobilising and learning more about my place in movements for change – I became a teacher, a facilitator and an organiser – and I learned that our stories are all threads in these powerful movements that reimagine and recreate our world every day.
One day feeling exhausted and despairing, surrounded by the rumbling and crashing of a construction site outside my home, I curled up on a broken sofa-bed and began to dream, and write. Many years later I’m still pushing through the imposter syndrome that tells me every day that someone like me – trans, sick and precarious – has nothing worth saying. Writing has brought me unimaginable new possibilities to organise and to connect. Writing about change while doing everything I can to create something better for this beautiful, threatened world is an unimaginable privilege I will never find the words to express. I hope this is just the beginning.
I go by Otter or Kes (pronouned with a soft s like kestrel.) I use she/her pronouns.
Connect with some of the incredible organisations and collectives I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the last few years.
Kes Otter Lieffe is a working class, chronically ill, femme, trans woman. She is an author, teacher and community organiser currently based in Berlin.
Kes is the author of a trilogy of trans feminist novels. Her first short story was published in ‘Our Entangled Future’ an anthology on social change and the climate crisis. Her short story Soft was published in the beautiful anthology on queer resilience, Glitter + Ashes. Kes is also the author of the colouring zine, Queer Animals, published by Microcosm, which will be made soon into a full colouring book.
A grassroots community organiser for over two decades, Kes has worked and organised in Europe, the Middle-East and Latin America with a particular focus on the intersection of gender, queerness and environmental struggles and creating radical autonomous alternatives to the trash-fire of capitalism. Since publishing her first novel in 2017, Kes has been building networks to counter the systemic oppressions faced by working-class trans women. Kes is a community organiser with aequa in Berlin.
Kes facilitates workshops on subjects including trans-competency, queer ecology and consensus and has taught in various contexts from squats to universities. She also runs writing classes and has an online course, Writing from the Margins.