An idea for a local program…
Let me run something by you.
You know that I believe that consciousness raising of trans identified people is the heart of activism, because the more we can become allies to each other the more we become self empowered. When we can speak for a range of trans choices, even those we would never make for ourselves, we can more profoundly stand for change in the world.
I also know that the most popular events with transpeople are the events where we get to speak, to tell our story. We each have something we want other people to hear, something profound we need to say.
What about a monthly event that flips the normal paradigm on it’s head? Isn’t that a kind of very transqueer idea?
Bring in a person with some kind of authority every month — someone from the governor’s office, the head of LGBT organizations, the police chief, a noted doctor, a reporter, whoever — but instead of bringing them in to speak, we bring them in to listen.
The designated listener will come, and the first 15 people to arrive will each have 3 minutes to say anything they want to that person. Whatever you think they need to hear about trans life, you can tell them.
The key benefit, of course, is to the group. Everyone gets a chance to speak up on what they think is important, and everyone in the room gets to hear what others of different viewpoints and choices see as a priority. The format asks for leadership and listening rather than asking for compliance and consensus, and that seems valuable, at least to me.
There is no crosstalk, no commenting on other presentations. If you have something to say, even something contrary to another presentation, you have to get in line, stand up and speak for your own viewpoint. The power of change isn’t destructive, just telling others where they are wrong, it’s constructive, telling others what you think is right and moving them towards your point of view.
It might change the mind of the designated listener, but that’s not the point. We don’t come with any agenda to convey to them other than the fact it’s time to listen to the voices of trans identified people. That simple.
With small, concentrated presentations, we ask people to prepare, to gain skills in public communications. And because they are short bits, they can even be put on video for YouTube or other outlets.
When I did Uniting As Allies with CDGLCC (now Capital Pride Center) in 1997, I was in the big final exercise with the head of Sisters And Brothers In The Life, the organization for people of colour. The question was about the exclusivity of organizations; should there be identity limits on membership?
I, as you can imagine, argued against identity boundaries. And one question I asked that made a difference was “Is your goal to build strong black voices, or is it to build a strong black voice?”
I strongly believe that our goal has to build strong trans voices, not a strong trans voice. We are a community of individuals, and our goal has to be to work to empower individuals to follow their own unique path, to claim their own unique expression, their own unique voice.
What about an event that is designed to showcase and hone those voices, where the expert is there to listen, and we are there to share? Could that help raise consciousness and leadership?
Call it something like TransSpeak. With work and luck, it feels like something that can develop over time, as people see others model speaking up, as people take the time to consider what they want to say.
It’s just a notion at this point.
What do you think?