Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gendercast at the Philly Trans* health Conference

It’s been over three weeks since I left to attend the Philadelphia Trans* Health Conference with the Gendercast crew. I’m still processing those three days of intense networking, listening, and learning.

We met up with some awesome folks from Art of Transliness, Original Plumbing, Self Made Men, and more, and attended workshops on everything from Ally spaces to pegging to some of the first official studies on the effects of testosterone on mental health and well-being. We made friends with people all across the country, and beyond. And, of course, Gendercast presented a fantastic workshop (if I may say so) on using the podcast as a form of accessible information distribution and a networking tool to offer us a chance to tell our own stories, outside of the mainstream media.

There was really too much information in any of the workshops, and too many stories I heard to accurately sum them up in one blog post. But, out of the number of things I learned and experiences I had, one lesson sticks out to me above the others: the importance of the individual experience.

It can be so easy to focus on labels and categories and opinions while each of us tries to fight for basic rights and recognition of our diverse identities. There are times when doing so is necessary to explain a concept to someone, define a need, or create a certain type of safer space. But, as Minister Louis Mitchell so insightfully pointed out in his keynote address, the driving force that brings us together in our search for improvement and community, is our individual experience. It is the stories each of us bring, and how we use those to heal, teach, and build a better environment, that are key to developing the resources and security we want to see in the world around us. By listening to those stories and thinking about them and respectfully responding, no matter how different or contrary they may seem to our own experience, we can gain enormous insight on how to be a better ally, a better advocate, and build better relationships.

As an advocate working for an issue that can be so misunderstood and underrepresented, it can be very hard to break out of my own story and small queer community to make a difference for a larger community. Being so isolated can lead me to feel hopeless that I’m reaching people beyond my small circle or, worse, resentful of the steps taken by certain subsets of the queer community, because I don’t see my experience reflected there. However simple it might be to remember to listen to the stories other share, the results of doing so yield a wealth of insight and information that can be extremely powerful.

Even in three and a half short days, I will carry the incredible reward I gained in meeting so many people and hearing about so many lives and concerns and desires with me for years to come, and has drastically changed my views and focused my goals. I hope that wherever you are, you have the chance to reach out to others in and outside of your community, however small or large that may be, to listen and share experiences as well, to develop lasting bonds and strong skills to make the world a different place.

- gilligan

1 comment:

  1. Get your levels rechecked every couple of months. After you make diet changes and add supplements, your doctor will want to have your homo cysteine level checked again. Higher vitamin doses may be recommended if your levels remain elevated. Thanks a lot.