I’m glad I attended the event yesterday; to be able to talk about issues that arise from being a trans woman, to a range of people (primarily healthcare professionals, support & service providers and other trans people) who were genuinely interested in the inclusivity of trans people in society, well, it was quite uplifting. Reassuring, confidence-boosting.
I have never been one for ghettoising myself within trans-specific environments, on or offline; preferring instead to take my chances in the big bad outside world on my own. It’s a much tougher path, but separate is not equal. And there’s no doubt that your perspective is as biased by this – in its own way – as if you joined every support group available and spent all your free time doing the rounds of the trans* boards on the web.
But cocooning yourself from the real world, although understandable – there’s a lot of transphobia out there and no safety net – is ultimately Not Good. Because sooner or later you will come into contact with it, so – when you’re as thin-skinned as me – the sooner you start getting used to This Is How Life Is, the better.
So I had an absorbing afternoon, talked a lot, listened a lot, met a load of people – and got to see some amazing views of London from the revolving restaurant on the 30th floor at the social ‘do’ afterwards. (The event was held in the Metropolitan Police Headquarters building at Earls Court and convened by Gendered Intelligence).
There were four themes to the workshops: Body Positivity & Sexual Health; Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing; Families & Youth; Asylum & Trans People. I’d opted for the Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing strand but would have liked it if the event had been maybe two (or more) days so I could have attended all four. Although, I have a feeling that we probably all covered all the subjects in each workshop anyway… The sessions were well-regulated and kept to time, so that we were able to cover a lot of ground. Admittedly, with a brief like that, coverage was never going to be as in-depth as it could (or should) have been – but everyone was quite understanding about the need for compromise.
All of this will eventually included in a report – this is from the PFC website: “Conclusions from the day will be used to write a report and will be distributed globally across the trans community, as well as to service providers and voluntary sector organisations. The conference and the report will offer an opportunity to those who need to know more about trans issues as part of their professional practices. For example youth service provisions, sexual health service providers, mental health services, LGBT liaison officers, equality and diversity officers, the police and the Home Office as well as community and voluntary sector bodies etc.”
Later edit: For a long time I’ve wanted to ‘do something’ to help raise awareness and understanding of trans people and the issues that concern us, but haven’t really known how to go about it. I have thought about trying to get my personal journal published – and I’d still like to do that. But I sense that getting involved in the sort of outreach work that I experienced yesterday might actually be a more meaningful way of putting something back.
The book thing would be great, actually – but there’s an amount of ego-stroking involved, let’s be honest. And I’m also thinking about the Thomas Beatie thing. He’s been very high profile through his pregnancy, and there is talk that he’ll bring out a book, but I find myself asking, ‘what now?’ His attention, I guess, will be focused on his family and he’ll disappear from the public stage – and how has any of it benefitted trans people in any practical way? It hasn’t really started any public discussion of – for example – child care, or medical intervention in pregnancy… There’s been a huge flare of publicity, an almost prurient interest arising from the visual juxtaposition of a male body with a female pregnancy bump and… Well, not much else, really.
So that’s kind of why, yesterday, before I left the conference room, I volunteered to be a Facilitator at next year’s conference. It may not be a huge contribution, but it would be something, at least.
As Zöe says – Moving the mountain one teaspoonful at a time.
©2008 Helen G