I had a great weekend that included 24 hours of baby sitting, a lovely Quaker meeting (photo is from this week’s mantle display) and the Transcending Boundaries Conference, a bi and trans gathering.
Sadly I only attended a third of the conference, but got to see friends (and Friends) as well as participate in two workshops. One was on race, idenity and eroticism. The workshop facilitators did not show, so we workshop participants ran it ourselves and discussed identity, race and personal narratives. I loved the diversity in the group which included folks of diverse races, religions, and ages.
The other workshop was a primer on Transgender issues. Really it was the basics, but presented wtih passion and personal knowledge by Jerimarie Liesegang, Ph.D, a longtime trans activist from Hartford.
Before attending the conference I read an article entitled The Feminist Crossdresser by Miqqi Alicia Gilbert, Ph.D. It echoes well some of what Jerimarie discussed.
Describing the transgender world, Gilbert writes,
Only recently have we begun to be connsidered as people who are worthy and needful of concern. Our needs have forever been ignored, displaced, and designated low prioriity, not only by mainstream heterosexist society, but often by gay and lesbian society as well.
We have been misunderstood, misinterpreted and dismissed…Our rights have long been on a back burner because adding transgender rights to gay and lesbian rights “might slow down the gay rights movement.”
Forget that the “official” beginning of the gay rights movement, Stonewall, was a trangender uprising, or that the first same-sex marriages were between a genetic woman and a transwoman; forget also that trans people are regularly beaten, humiliated, and murdered. Dealing with us is hard and makes people uncomfortable, so we are pushed aside.
Gilbert goes on to expertly explain how male crossdressers have the opportunity to personally understand issues of sexism that have plagued most women.
Better yet, don’t forget any of that. Better yet, realize that it is exactly what women have gone through for centuries. For women, the acquisition of status and rights has been a slow and arduous process that has not yet been completed even in the most advanced socieities. In the less advanced, women are no more than chattel, whhose rights and needs need not be condisdered at all.
The crossdresser needs to understand that his own sense of frustration at having to hide and be ashamed is similar to the aspirations of millions of women who also must suppress their desires, hide their true nature, and follow a multitude of rules not of their own making.
Speaking of “rules” I broke the gender normative rule of our society by wearing a skirt to this event. No one batted an artificial eyelash.
Of course I am now considering wearing a skirt to a majority gay and lesbian event on Saturday, the Connecticut premiere of Fish Can’t Fly. Even thinking about the skirt, I feel aware of rules pertaining to gay men, particularly for male gay activist. Be gay, but look normal.