Thursday, May 7, 2015

Black Trans Advocacy

I am so pumped about the conference that I attended in Dallas, Tx. First, let me start off by saying that I have never been to Dallas before and it was simply amazing. Vast, beautiful and complex. Reminding me of all people and their journeys. We were all living a shared extraordinary experience which includes being Black. It was amazing to me to see so many trans, trans-loving, and allies together learning and building community! Black Trans Advocacy has two major sub-groups; Black transmen and Black transwomen. There are chapters in cities all over the world however; they are small. Texas has a large LGBTQPIA population and this conference is received with open arms.

The welcoming ceremony set the tone for the entire week. I met Mr. and Mrs. Brown who had the vision to bring the black trans community together four years ago. When you look at them you see their love and dedication. 
The sessions offered ranged from health and insurance to children living with parents who have transitioned. I was very pleased with the amount of knowledge I gained. The session that stood out most to me was about insurance coverage. To some people, insurance is the major factor keeping them from living as their true self. In this session, we were given sample insurance packets and learned how to read through exclusions and which codes are most important.

Mr. Vann and his daughters
Trans-lives Matter Balloon
There are older men and women of the trans experience who have been living a "normal" life raising children, going to school and advocating for the next generation. There is a guy, Vann, who brought his wife and two daughters. They are a beautiful family. His two daughters lead their own session called "Living on the other side of "T"'. It was amazing. They have been raised in the family for 12 years and have seen the transition of their father and family first hand. I must say that these young ladies were far beyond their years. Not to mention that they are from Baltimore. While we are all there building community and friendship and family, their home was the scene of civil unrest. Marching, protesting and eventually violence played out in response to the corrupt "justice" system.

This conference left a very profound effect on me. Most spaced harp on intersectionalism and how no one part of an identity is more than the other. Being a Black transman in different spaces I've noticed that being Black is usually looked over unless the topic is murder by white cop or drugs.  The spaces usually don't look at everyday struggles for Black trans* people. This conference showed me the other side. We started sessions and meetings by calling in our ancestors and paying homage. I was able to meet and connect with people who transitioned over 50 years ago. we were all in awe of each other and proud that we made it. I think that the unspoken thing here was also that we were all Black and we needed to plant seeds and grow.

The greatest lesion gained from this experience is that visibility means the world to those who are seeking love and acceptance. I learned that sometimes you have to just be present and the rest will fall into place. I can use this knowledge for anything in the future.