Sunday, July 25, 2010

You Want Trans POC Peeps Speaking At Your Events, Simply Ask Us

Was perusing some pictures on Trystan Dean's FB page taken at the TransForm New Hampshire Conference that concludes today when I noted a comment Trystan made concerning a point made in Allyson Robinson's keynote conference address that resonated with me.

'There wasn't a single person of color there. Every one of us looked/passed as white. It was rather heartbreaking. Allyson Robinson noted the absence of people of color in her keynote speech. It takes more than an announcement to build bridges between the diverse elements of our Trans community. It takes going the extra mile to bring everyone to the table. Like Allyson said, we have to be willing to give away our privilege.'

True enough. It's not like we don't have transpeople of color who are capable of giving inspiring keynote speeches at trans conferences and other events.

I've been blessed to have been asked and able to give speeches at several TDOR events in Louisville and Long Island, the inaugural NE Trans Pride march, a keynote for a gender conference on the University of Colorado campus, a speech at Bryn Mawr College and of course, my 2006 IFGE Trinity Award acceptance speech.

I have had a note on the right side TransGriot sidebar for almost two years stating that I'm available and willing to speak, and I'm personally aware of other trans POC's like myself in various sections of the country who not only have the talent and eloquence to do so, would love to have the opportunity as well.

We just aren't asked.

Would I love to be a keynote speaker at a Southern Comfort Conference? A Colorado Gold Rush? A Creating Change? The Unity Banquet in my hometown? An IFGE Convention? Various events taking place on college campuses? Cis community civil rights events such as ACLU, NAACP and Urban League dinners, et cetera?

You damned skippy I would.

And I'd be looking fly while doing so.

But for that to happen, you have to ask me and my fellow transpeeps at the outset of your planning for the event, not treat us as an afterthought once it's over.

Because if we aren't part of the event, it sends the unspoken message that we aren't wanted and need not show up.

That may not be the intended one you as organizers of an event wished to send to the general public and our community, but when POC transpeople see pictures of a nearly monoethnic event, and see a list of guest speakers that reflect only one ethnic group, that's unfortunately the message that gets received.

The trans community has to be BETTER than our oppressors.

Granted, there were mitigating factors at this event because of the fact it was held in New Hampshire. Demographically, according to the 2000 US census New Hampshire is 97% White. But there are also transpeople of color in the surrounding New England area states in easy driving or flying distance of Concord, NH.

If asked, they probably would have been thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.

If we assert that the trans community is a diverse bunch and that diversity is our best weapon and our strength against our misguided opponents, then we have to do more to ensure our events reflect that diversity.

Just because the rest of the world doesn't is no excuse for us to fall into that same old same old pattern, especially as a marginalized group fighting our own pitched civil rights battle with the Forces of Intolerance.

But it will take going the extra mile to make that happen.

1 comment:

Autumn Sandeen said...

I'm having the hard time reaching you. If you're going to SCC this year, I NEED you in a panel about blogging in colorful diversity.

Pam Spaulding & I will be on panel. Pam and I want you talking about your experiences blogging, about the things you're mentioning here in this post, and why diversity matters.

autumn [at] phblend [dot] net
pam [at] phblend [dot] net