Winding down from the Philly Trans-Health Conference 2015Posted: June 9, 2015
I had a really great time; it went better than I thought it would. I was doing better. We were there for all 3 days for the first time ever, which allowed us to space out our time differently – not spend the entire day there and feel burn-out, yet still get to a lot of workshops.
This post is going to have a lot of links because lots of exciting things are going on!
I met some people! I got to meet Jamie, Lesboi, and Captain Glittertoes. I also saw Nathan again after meeting him last year – he’s putting together an anthology through Transgress Press called Voices of Transgender Parents. If you know anyone who is a trans-parent, direct them here to find out more: Call for Submissions. I met someone named Elliott (if you’re reading this, I’d love to connect online but am not sure how to find you…) It’s a surreal and rare experience to meet someone who’s blog you’ve been reading for a long time, especially if you have no idea what they look like in real life!
Here’s a breakdown of the workshops I attended and a brief summary of what I got out of them:
Non-Binary Talk: Let’s Make Friends – This was an informal space for people to share their experiences and connect by raising their hands and taking turns. The room was packed! It was really hard to hear a lot of what people said, and unfortunately no one suggested using the microphone on hand. Someone near me said something I’d never heard before – they said they identify as demi-gender, meaning their gender expression matches their gender assigned at birth, they just don’t totally feel that way internally.
Below the Belt: A Frank Discussion of Trans Male Genitalia – This workshop was led by Trystan Cotten, the founder of Transgress Press. He led the room in generating a long list of topics and concerns, and then we picked a few to discuss further. There was a huge range in what was brought up – it was only minimally about genital surgeries. We talked about hysterectomies and the options within that, reproductive issues, how trans-men relate to or don’t relate to their junk, menstruation, etc. It was really well organized and facilitated.
Results from the TransYouth Family Allies Research (TYFA) Study – This is a groundbreaking collection of data that illuminates what’s going on for trans-youth and their families. Unfortunately, I walked in late and missed the segment talking about the results, but another blog writer sums it up here: Results from TYFA study. I did learn that another survey is in the works to glean more information. The first online survey was 117 parents, mostly white moms (only 6 dads). They are planning both a longitudinal follow-up from the first study, and also a 2nd cohort to touch on gender fluidity and non-binary identities, delve further into self-harm and suicidality, and harassment and discrimination.
The Future of Gender Queer – This was the first of two non-binary-related workshops that I went to, one right after the other. They were very different. This one was moderated by Ignacio Rivera, who I look up to as someone doing amazing research in the field of non-binary identities. Last year, I was blown away by their presentation of “A Gender Not Listed Here.” They are currently working on a 2nd, follow-up survey at the National Center for Transgender Equality. It is going to be available mid August at http://www.ustranssurvey.org/ We should all take this survey! They led a panel with two other people, but also made sure to get lots of audience participation. We started by mapping out our individual gender journeys over the years, divided by how we felt vs. how we were perceived by the world. We then meandered through how we felt as genderqueer people, navigating the world, by raising our hands and speaking as one big group (with the help of a microphone this time). Feels like we only touched on what could be talked about.
Non-Binary (In)visibility: Empowerment and Self-Determination: – This was facilitated very differently and was more of a self-exploration and small-group sharing workshop. These can sometimes feel intimidating (talking to strangers in small groups), but I felt fine and liked my group. We first wrote down three ways we celebrate and share our non-binary identity in the world, and we also wrote 10 different answers to “Who am I?” We were then prompted to cross out 3 of them, then another 3, then another 3. At this point we got into small groups and talked about how we determined which ones to cross out and which one was left. We also did “2 truths and a lie” based on how we present ourselves or would like to present ourselves if we could. We wrapped up with discussing ways we can sustain support in our own communities after leaving the conference. Some of this felt a little self-indulgent and 101-ish, but the small group discussions really made it worthwhile.
I am the T: an FTM Documentary – This is an ongoing project to film 10 FTM people in 10 different countries. The film crew presented a rough cut of the first segment, Isak from Norway. It was really well done and I can’t wait to see more from this project. After the first film is complete, they have plans to continue with trans-feminine experiences and non-binary experiences from around the world.