Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Texas TDOR's In 24 Hours

I'm usually pretty busy when November 20th approaches and it's time for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance memorial events to take place here and elsewhere around the world.   Between the radio interviews, op-ed posts and articles, panel discussions and keynote speech requests it can and does get hectic and potentially overwhelming for me during this and any TDOR period

But I had never tried to pull off participating in two TDOR events in the same cycle until this year.

I had gotten the invitation to come to the San Antonio TDOR when Lauryn Farris came to Houston for the Texas Transgender Non Discrimination Summit (TTNS) last summer.  I already knew Rev. Carmarion Anderson was their keynote speaker and it was scheduled for November 21, so no big deal.   I always enjoy spending quality time around her and definitely wanted to be there to see her speak. 

I was planning at the time to just go, chill and be in the San Antonio TDOR audience watching Carmarion and keeping my butt in the background.  I wanted to let others get their well deserved recognition and attention.    
But when Dee Dee Watters approached me in early October about participating in the first ever African-American trans organized TDOR event in Houston, I wanted to be part of that historic event but I was already committed to being in San Antonio on November 21 for their TDOR.  I'd also backed it up by as soon as the booking window opened up for it by purchasing the round trip Megabus ticket (for $2.50) to San Antonio.  

No TransGriot readers, that's not a typo.  I got that San Antonio Megabus roundtrip for $2.50. It got even more interesting when Lauryn asked me to take a more active role in their TDOR since I was already headed there and speak at their event. 

Dee Dee WattersDee Dee wasn't giving up either. She asked me again to participate in the TDOR she was planning, and once I found out she'd scheduled the Houston African-American TDOR event for November 20, it set up the interesting situation for me of literally participating in two Texas TDOR's 24 hours apart on opposite ends of I-10.

Part one of this two TDOR's in 24 hours scenario started on Wednesday night as I approached St. Luke the Evangelist Episcopal Church in the shadows of the Texas Southern University campus.

It was a perfect venue for this first ever African-American trans organized TDOR event.  For a first time TDOR it drew 40 people which I was extremely pleased about.  I had a role in it as a reader, but the major credit for pulling this off goes to Dee Dee Watters who organized it.

Dee Dee also had as part of the program a monologue she performed along with the musicians, poetry readings, spoken word and commentary that comprised the programming for this inaugural event.

I've already been told this African-American organized TDOR is going to happen next year and hope people in the Houston African-American trans community and our allies come out in even larger numbers next year to support it because frankly, they need to.   

The next morning I was up bright and early to catch my 8:15 AM Megabus heading west on I-10 to San Antonio to attend and take part in their TDOR for the first time.   My homegirl Rev. Carmarion Anderson was coming down I-35 to be the keynote speaker for this year's event and I would get to close out the programming part of it as the final speaker of the evening, behind her and legendary local activist Graciela Sanchez.. 

I spent an enjoyable day after I arrived with Lauryn Farris and Carmarion before we headed over to the MCC San Antonio church to handle out TDOR business San Antonio style.

I was surprised to see the globetrotting Cristan Williams there, who had literally just come back from the Left Coast after leading a protest against the transphobic hatemongers of the Pacific Justice Institute and drove to the Alamo City for their event.   I was also happy to finally meet another member of the 'Can We Talk For Real' radio team in Ina Anthony, who spent the event seated next to me.

The interesting thing about the San Antonio TDOR event is they start with the reading of the names, then go into their programming.  
So after the reading of the names of the departed, the tribute to the beloved on both ends of I-10 late Michelle Myers (which was why Cristan was there to represent herself and the Houston community), Carmarion's rousing keynote and Graciela's equally moving speech, I had to close it out. 

I got to discuss moving forward past this day, and I focused on politics and what we needed to do as a community after we left that church.   It was a well received speech as I discovered during the reception afterwards which I was happy about.  

I also got to meet with many people in the San Antonio trans and LGB community, allies, activists and politicians.  One interesting situation occurred in which I was talking to a woman who has a trans child.  While we were in the middle of that conversation a member of the local PFLAG chapter took the opportunity to introduce herself to me.  I took that moment and introduced her to the mother of the trans child.  That jump started a conversation about what she needed to know between the two and connected the mom to San Antonio PFLAG.  

I also had a serious chat with San Antonio city councilmember Diego Bernal.  I thanked him for his support of our community and his YES votes during their recent contentious non-discrimination ordinance fight.  
He gave me a message to take back to the peeps here in Houston, since we're about to embark on our own what promises to be contentious non-discrimination ordinance fight.    

And sorry, that message Councilmember Bernal asked me to pass on to my Houston peeps is in 'the trans revolution will not be televised or written about' territory.   Some things have to stay secret in order for them to become a reality.`   And yeah, I'm quite aware of the possibility that our loud and wrong enemies read this blog, too.

The temperature dropped 30 degrees after a cold front blew through town around 3 AM and fortunately I packed a long sleeved turtleneck shirt in my bag for the trip home.  I dozed off after we passed Seguin and after I awakened from my nap around Columbus got a chance to talk to San Antonio resident Mary Lozano.  When she discovered I had just spoken at the SATDOR, she asked me why there was such hateful rhetoric thrown around in that ordinance fight by alleged Christians because the anti-TBLG rhetoric bothered her as a Christian who lives her faith.

Since we had a hour until we arrived in Houston, I had enough time to do an impromptu Trans 101 and make a friend. I have her number and definitely will be staying in touch with her.

So now that this TDOR season is over, time to rest, reflect and recharge the batteries for the battles ahead and in the new year.  Sadly enough we may already have the first name for the 2014 TDOR list in the person of Jacqui Cowdrey

And I may need to consider going to the Dallas TDOR next year.  

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