07 august 2018

I love listening to the rain. Recordings are okay, but not the same as a live performance.

I don't know if it's crazy of me, but I feel there's a lot I'm meant to be doing in this life, like for a wider community outside of my family, maybe something in the artistic realm. I don't feel especially inspired or creative most of the time and at this point in my life my time is all devoted to real (and rewarding!) responsibilities, so it's kinda weird that I keep thinking about it.

About the 2018 Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference.

I went there this year for the same reasons I usually do, mostly to support members of my family who were attending, to stay with our child during sessions, &c.

The one thing I did actually attend myself was a workshop called "Being Non-Binary in a Binary World", and it was good for me. I got there early, and the room filled quickly; a few minutes into the session, people were sitting in the aisle and standing behind the chairs. The presenter who started the whole thing off was a very charismatic and capable University of Delaware student named Joe Kim, who turned out to be 20 years old. There were a number of audible gasps when fae revealed hir age in his presentation; the gathered audience seemed to skew a little young, as much of the conference does, but there were a number of attendees in their 50s or 70s and ze just had a confidence and self-awareness that eluded many of us at age 20. (Joe, like some other non-binary people, likes people to try varying pronouns on em.) But the part that made it really cool for me was that, after breezing through faer own presentation, ey used the rest of our allotted time to solicit anecdotes from the audience, and that really drew out a great diversity of experiences.

There were people whose gender experiences were informed by their immigrant families' traditions, or by exposure to gendered anti-black racism. There were young people who basically found their genders on Tumblr at age 14. That's fucking fantastic, to be honest; I can hardly imagine what it would mean for me to have that at age 14. There were veterans of the city's gay scene who didn't even have the words to say they were trans early on. There were young adults who had just lost contact with their parents because they came out. There was an audience member in their 50s who had presented themself as a straight man ever since they had a child, then found the courage to explore who they were when their child came out as trans shortly before the conference. There was a person who said they would have been a man, had medical transition been available to them in their 20s, but they came to see a part of themself as female when they became a mother to four children. "I'm a mum, not a dad," they said. Another person talked about how, when they first came out as non-binary, they felt they had to shave their beard and start shoplifting O.P.I. nail polish they didn't even want. This was a common pitfall people described, the feeling of an obligation to look non-binary when really there is no non-binary look.

There was applause, constantly. We were driven to applaud and recognize each other because for once we were in a room together, openly.

On the last day of the conference my spouses and I picked up new rings for ourselves from a vendor selling a lot of pride-themed jewelry. We'd all had matching cheap matching rings that had broken or no longer fit. This time we all got different rings in a rainbow theme. Mine is, like, really obvious. Not easily overlooked like the old one.

Some people who I think were from Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Communist Party had this really obnoxiously signed table in the vendor area promising an opportunity to take down "the Trump/Pence Regime". Most attendees seemed to be studiously ignoring it as I did. (If you're not familiar with the RCP, just know that this is about them, not about communism as a concept.)

As the last sessions of the conference were wrapping up, a few people from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up outside the Convention Center to cause trouble; I passed a few of them on the sidewalk as they were getting their bearings. My spouse later found an Instagram video of them being literally surrounded with trans flags until they could not be seen. From what I heard they subsequently got into a scuffle with a conferencegoer and were dispersed by police.

There's probably more I could write about, but this took a long time to write and I need to sleep.