This article discusses the anglophone reception of the life and work of the East German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Particular attention is paid to the translation and marketing of von Mahlsdorf's memoir against the backdrop of Eastern Europe's purported transition to Western capitalist democracy. Using the concept of framing developed first by Erving Goffman and adapted to the study of translation by Albrecht Neubert and Gregory Shreve, and then Mona Baker, the author analyzes the ways in which the presentation of von Mahlsdorf's life in the translated memoir reflects a specific Western framing of queer lives, which is later altered in Doug Wright's award-winning play about von Mahlsdorf following the release of von Mahlsdorf's secret police file and the troubled progress of the so-called transition. The article demonstrates how the careful study of translations can challenge the universalizing of Western conceptual and temporal frames by highlighting the historical and contingent nature of our sexual selves.

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