Gender Odyssey, Day 1

What a whirlwind!  Nick and I arrived at the Silver Cloud Hotel Thursday night (much later than anticipated because of dreadful traffic on I5) and went next door to The Garage for a meet and greet.  We met up with our roommate, another Olympia resident and I saw a few other folks I know.

Today we were up early to break our fast in the room (yogurt, banana, coffee) before heading down the hill to the Washington Convention Center for the conference.

I said it last year and it’s true again this year, walking into the Gender Odyssey space feels like coming home, even more so this year as I was greeted at the registration desk by name, before I had a chance to say anything.  I spent the first session in a discussion about mental health impacts of the recent DSMV change of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) to Gender Dysphoria (Beyond GID: Trans Life and Mental Health).  The presenters were two people I’d met at last year’s conference.  A lot of people in the room had some pretty negative experiences with mental health care providers and that made me all the more thankful for my therapist.

Next up was Non-Binary Transition, presented by Micah, one of my favorite people (he blogs at Neutrois Nonsense).  I went to this one last year, and it still seemed like the best choice of the hour.  I was feeling a bit hungry and went to the Tully’s (down one floor), grabbing some coffee to share with Nick and a yogurt parfait to satisfy my hunger before slipping into the session a little late.  I found that though I’d attended the session last year, this one was 1) even better — Micah’s gotten better with the presentation — and 2) I’m in an even more receptive place with regard to information about social transitioning.

Then it was lunch time and Nick and I headed out to grab food from Subway, then returned to sit and share our impressions while stuffing our faces.  It was nice to get a little down time, there were still 2 more sessions to attend, the last one for me was a discussion I would facilitate.

After lunch, I went to the Genderqueer Adult in the ‘Real World’ discussion (led by Sam Davis, who I think I might have met at Butch Voices a couple of years ago?).  Nick headed off to Don’t Sit on Our SOFFAS, a discussion about transition and how it effects partners and families of those transitioning.  The session I was in spent some time defining ‘adult’ with regard to benefits and downsides, then talked about the difficulty of projecting an adult, professional image when one presents as gender neutral, when the notion of professional dress still tends to be along strict, stereotypically sex based lines.

After that session, I went to facilitate a discussion in the  Young Adult track on the topic of coming out and disclosure.  There were only 7 people besides myself in the discussion, one of which was an older adult like myself, who attended with his younger partner.  The discussion went well, though I would have loved to have more people there.  I kept moving the conversation around, to include everyone, and I think some of the might have welcomed a few more folks to carry the conversation.

After the keynote by Cecelia Chung, we returned to the hotel and made dinner plans.  8 oz Burger won the feverish competition for dinner spots (it was that or Thai, or a hand tossed pizza place or a Persian/Greek place).  While stuffing our faces with delectable meat, the three of us debriefed on the sessions we’d been to.  It was a great discussion and one big take away was this idea about transition.  Instead of thinking of transition as being from male to female, or female to male, or from some place on the binary to some place off of the binary, how about we consider a new binary spectrum:  transitioning from not being fully you to being more fully you.  No need to feel like you have to be male enough or female enough or genderqueer enough to qualify for transition, or to consider yourself a success, simply this — are you feeling more like yourself?  That’s success.

I’m feeling very validated about having proposed my two sessions.  Over and over today, including the keynote by Chung, I heard a complaint about there not being enough stories, about the standard narrative of trans experience being too limiting.  And genderqueer narrative, what’s that?  Chung said over and over again that we need to tell our stories, tell the stories of who we are and what our experiences have been in order to be agents of change.  In one session, people asked questions about how to talk to kids about being transgender, and I thought ‘Hey, I’m doing a session on that!’ but didn’t want to hijack the conversation with a commercial for my workshop.  In that same session, someone spoke up about there not being enough stories available to more fully express the variations of experience within our community.  In the next session, something similar was said and I did speak up with a brief blurb about my session.

Wanted: Your Stories will happen tomorrow after lunch.  Gender Aware Parenting is first thing Sunday morning.  Wish me luck.

Right now we’re hanging in the hotel room resting up before the Gay City Pub Crawl, promoted with this blurb:

This is not your mother’s idea of a wholesome night out! This year’s Gay City Pub Crawl is for trans folks who are interested in gay/bi men. From the seasoned pro to the newbie in gay culture, you’ll get a tour of Seattle’s gayest, hippest clubs and gain an opportunity to learn more about gay male culture than we dare write about.

Again, wish me luck ;-

p.s. I got to see Arron, who I haven’t seen in aaaaaages and meet his boyfriend.  I also walked up to James Darling and re-introduced myself to him.  What a sexy man.

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