Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 TTNS-Day 2 Recap

After allowing myself some extra beauty sleep because I got in late from the welcome barbecue at the TG Center and compiled the post recapping the Texas Transgender Non Discrimination Summit's Day one activities, it was back to the University of Houston campus for the second day of TTNS events.

After we assembled in the Roy Cullen building's Room 104 at 10 AM to begin the second day, we were treated to the welcoming speech by Dr. Wyman Herendeen, the chair of the UH Department of English after intros from Lou and Maria.   

The TTNS trivia contest continued with Team 3 finally getting on the contest scoreboard by answering a question correctly about the May 1959 Los Angeles Cooper's Donuts riots.

We then launched into our third set of concurrent sessions in which I once again had to choose between two excellent presenters and topics.  

It was either Katy Stewart's 'Transgender Health Priorities: A Knowledge, Barriers, Vulnerabilities Model' one in Room 105 or the one I did attend in Room 102 that was conducted by Resource Center Dallas' Rafael McDonnell entitled 'Inclusive Language and Policies For School Districts and Junior Colleges:: A How To Toolkit'.  

Rafael is one of the people I correspond with on a regular basis and finally got the pleasure thanks to the TTNS of meeting him last night and talking shop with him on a few issues.  

As a TK I like education policy issues and Rafael took us through a fascinating two hours of info concerning the backstory of their efforts in Dallas and how the education policy hierarchy is set up for the over 1000 independent school districts in Texas.   He also dropped a very interesting tidbit about Texas Junior College policy that came as a pleasant surprise to us Houston area activists.

We looked at the policies in the Amarillo and San Antonio ISD's as a case study, and noted the similarities as Rafael pointed out the areas that needed to be focused on by BTLG activists in order to enact comprehensve rights coverage for TLBG people and students.  The presentation also focused on how to do the same for the 50 junior colleges in the Lone State State. It was pointed out that only 5 have policies with sexual orientation language and only one has sexual orientation- Gender Identity and expression language.

Once he wrapped up the presentation and took questions, we moved back to Room 104 for Meghan Stabler's keynote speech.  Once again she's one of the people I have regular contact with and it was a sincere pleasure meeting her.   I also got a chance to chat with someone I haven't seen in years in Stacey Langley-Watts and her husband Michael.

Meghan's speech was entitled 'You, A Life Worth Living' and she talked about some triumphs and challenges in her own life as she inspiringly spoke about the themes of living our trans lives with pride, dignity and being cognizant of the legacy we leave behind.

After Meghan answered some questions and finished her keynote speech it was time for Lorraine to read another trivia question.  Team 2 finally got on the TTNS trivia contest scoreboard with a correct answer before we broke for lunch inside Roy Cullen. 

During that lunch we were not only catching up with each other and in some cases talking political shop, w were also chatting with the media folks who just as they were doing for Day 1 of the TTNS, were recording the events of Day 2.   I got a chance to talk to a reporter for the UH student newspaper The Daily Cougar and talk about Texas A&M's women's NCAA b-ball championship run with Phyllis.    

The final concurrent sessions for the 2011 TTNS once again made it tough to decide which one to attend.  It was either listening to Judge Phyllis Frye break down Transgender Case Law in Room 102 or head to room 105 and check out Jenifer Rene Pool and Chris Busby's seminar entitled 'Building Grassroots Change In Your Community.'

As much as I like listening to Phyllis and Darrell Steidley talk about legal issues, I ended up in Chris and Jenifer's seminar.  I wanted to hear the story on how we got to the point that we had the historic win Thursday night, since much of this process transpired while I was in Kentucky.

In addition to Jenifer and Chris discussing that HISD backstory and how it played out over three years, thy also talked about grassroots activism.   They pointed out one of the most important questions you should ask before formulating any grassroots organizing strategy is What Do I Want?     They pointed out it needs to be the question you focus on like a laser bean and never forget even while going through the ups and downs in attaining your ultimate goals.   

They also stressed another point in you being the advocate.   There are times that we shouldn't or can't depend on major orgs to come in at a grassroots level and do the civil rights work for us.   Sometimes we have to be the advocate and do it ourselves.   We also can't assume that others are doing it for us either. 

When those seminars were over we returned to Room 104 to conduct the finale for the TTNS Trivia Quiz and hand out the prizes.  Moni had to go potty because all the liquid refreshments she was drinking started catching up with her and while I was gone they asked the question.   It was one that stumped most of the people in the room by the time I saunter back in.   While I'm walking through the doors of Room 104 Lorraine and several people asked me what team I was on as I'm getting seated.  After replying I was on Team 5 I ask her to repeat the question.

The question that stumped the room?   Who was the transperson in the book and movie Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil?  I start smiling because I knew who she was. I have an autographed copy of the Lady Chablis autobiography Hiding My Candy on my bookshelf.

Well, my correct answer gave Team 5 the trivia contest win and we got to take home UH LGBT center badge lanyards as our prize.  I joked after giving the correct answer 'It pays to be the trans community historian."

The summit is starting to wind down to its final acts for 2011 as we talk during a moderated discussion about future plans for the community and the TTNS.   The 2012 site is yet to be determined, and it is the intent of the founders for this not to be just a Houston party, but move it all over the state. 

That's a hint for you peeps who want to consider hosting the TTNS on your campus to put your bids in for the 2012, 2013, 2014..(you get the drift) future events. 

After remarks from Josephine, the 2011 TTNS came to a close.

Once again, I felt a little sadness that it was over.   It's always a pleasure to get to meet and see people from different parts of the state, and it excites me when I get an opportunity to do that.

Well, looking forward to the 2012 event, wherever it happens.

No comments: