Sunday, 15 April 2012

april 14, 2012

it's been a day full of thinking. this afternoon, i attended a conference called no more apologies, ottawa. it was a spinoff from the original conference that took place in toronto in january, which was all about queer women, both cis and trans, coming together to talk about romance and sex and dating and the social exclusion that trans women so often face in queer women's communities. i was discouraged, at first, to see that so many of the usual suspects (who tend to end up at everything queer) didn't bother to show up. but that didn't last long because it was an awesome day.

it took us a while to warm up and talk to each other on an authentic level rather than using jargon and making blanket statements and avoiding risk...but we got there. at least a little. i would say it was a good first conversation to have on the topic (locally, en masse). we spent the first part of the day together, talking about things like safer sex and language about body parts and consent and negotiation of consent. then, we broke up into two caucuses - cis and trans - to explore the topic of social exclusion. we were in a gym-like room, and we created a wall to separate the two halves of the room and give each group privacy to talk openly.

i was obviously only in one of the caucuses, but i was impressed that, within an hour, we were expressing some really intimate things to each other about our hopes and fears and experiences related to the topic of the conference. (sorry to keep things so general - we agreed to respect the confidentiality of the women there.)

after our separate caucuses were done meeting, we worked together to take down the wall between our two groups. that was kind of an amazing moment, symbolically. cis and trans women working together to literally deconstruct and put away a wall that had been separating us. i don't want to be melodramatic about it, but it felt pretty powerful.

of course, there were other symbolic moments that showed me there's still work to do. like when the cis women's caucus needed a little longer to talk about emotional stuff, and we asked the trans women's caucus (who were already done and ready) to wait an extra five minutes until we were finished talking about some pretty emotionally charged issues. speaking of symbolism! "please wait until we're ready to join you. we need to work through some stuff first." gah. i wish i had realized the weirdness of that in the moment. but, all in all, i think it was a good first step in mending some hurts and assumptions, as well as bridging some of the distance and fear that's been plaguing us on both sides.

thanks to everyone who helped to organize this conference, especially jade and allison and the keynote speaker, morgan page. thanks also to everyone who brought forward her / their experiences and gentleness and wisdom. there was a sincere desire to understand and move forward today - even if we didn't know where to start or what to say or do. moving into the unknown with no clear answers is one the hardest things to do in life. today, it was done with a lot of grace and honesty. may we continue to find the way!

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