Hello friends and readers! It's been 1.9 years since I posted my original post gathering my family's documents, and 1.7 years since I submitted my application in November of 2022. I am happy to share with you all that today, May 29, 2024, I received German citizenship alongside my two younger brothers!

In terms of the timeline,

* November 2022 - I submit my application
* 14 months of time with no update
* January 12, 2024 - We get an email stating that the BVA has requested my maternal grandfather's original birth certificate. The certified copy from Chicago was inadequate.
* January 16, 2024 - The embassy confirmed they received my grandpa's birth certificate and certified it for the BVA
* April 19, 2024 - The BVA approved our applications and sends us instructions for how to receive citizenship through the embassy
* April 25, 2024 - We received the approval letters
* May 29, 2024 - My brothers and I attend the ceremony, receive our papers and become German citizens! (My Mom will have to make her own appointment because she is traveling)
* Some future date - I return and receive a German passport. This has to be a separate step.

See the original post here: https://kaipeacock.com/blog/naturalization/intro/

This journey means a lot to me. My great grandparents continued to identify as Germans throughout their life, despite the way that Germany treated them. Their familes had a stability to living in Germany, particularly in Berlin, that I frankly can't get my head around. They had their land, their businesses, and their community stripped violently away from them, and they landed here in the United States, where we've been making our way since.

This citizenship has the ability to materially change my life. Not only do I have the right to work, live, and travel freely in the EU, I also have the right to live somewhere with socialized medicine and a wellfare state. I have a safety net and retirement opportunities that I've never had as a US citizen.

The United States is becoming ever more hostile to transgender people. Today, I won't travel to Florida, Tennessee, or Texas, because my identity documents have an X, and I know there's a real risk of being in danger over that. I'm automatically on many lists for when the next fascist takes office here. As much as I love my community and the life I've built for myself here in San Francisco, I know there's a real threat that I may be forced to flee in the coming years, and now I know that I'll have a much easier time making that decision.

At the same time, I can't turn my eyes away from what is happening in Gaza, particularly in Rafah at this very moment. The ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians since November 2023 has been ongoing and horrifying. I look at them and see not only the sickening violence and grief, bodies torn apart by US bombs, but I also see the same ancestral trauma inflicted on my own family. Land, farms, homes stripped away as native Palestinians are pushed out to make room for the Zionists to take everything from them.

I feel deeply connected to the Palestinian struggle. I feel like this is my own story. The fact that I'm supposed to identify with Israel because of my Jewish heritage is a sick and cruel joke. Both in the US and in Germany, the governments are passing laws that characterize criticism of the state of Israel as antisemetic. Germany has raided the homes of organizers of Samidoun network, and the US House Antisemitism Awareness Act classifies speech against Israel as hate speech.

Today I have all the privilege of German and US citizenship, but both nations are united, weaponizing my family's trauma while bombs are being dropped every day on innocents. The same shame and guilt that motivated Section 15 of the Nationality Act, granting my my citizenship, is weaponized again against Jewish protesters and other people of conscience for speaking up against Israel. Others have said it much better than I can, but the notion that Jews must support Israel is itself antisemetic. My homeland is not Palestine - it is California, and my family's homeland is Berlin. Stealing land from Palestinian natives is colonialism. It isn't recompense for what the Nazis took from my family. Inflicting new violence and atrocities will never make me whole - it makes the whole world poorer, and inflicts new traumas on innocents that will last for generations.

So, I'll conclude with this. I will always remember today. This day represents new freedom for my family, a minor resolution to a major injustice. However, "No one is free until we are all free". I stand with Palestine today, with the incarcerated and the oppressed forever. All of our struggles are interconnected. I'll spend today with my family, appreciating what we have. Free Palestine. Never again means never for anyone.

© Kai Peacock 2024