My blog is an official sponsor of the 2015 TransPride Pittsburgh National Conference September 18-20. I just now sent in my check and completed the paperwork. This is part of my intentional acts to show that trans lives matter to me.
I chose TransPride Pgh because it functions as sort of an umbrella group for the multiple community groups led by and focused on the trans community in this region. These include the GLCC of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Transgender, sisTers United, Garden of Peace, T to T and more. Some of these groups are more active than others. TransPride Pgh also creates a support for informal groups to organize and participate. Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community in general is smaller than most cities (3% of the population) so it is to be expected that the trans community is very small as well. Pooling resources makes sense.
I’m gravely concerned about the epidemic of violence plaguing trans women of color and I hope the conference has plans to have that conversation. To that end, I recently asked on Facebook how cis allies like me can play a role affirming the inherent value and dignity of trans women of color. The response of Joy KMT, herself a cis ally who is also a queer woman of color, got me thinking.
I realized that most of the TWOC that I actually know do not live in Pittsburgh. So I need to work on her first suggestion. Supporting trans led organizations is something concrete that I can do, but sisTers United is the only group that I know of led by a trans woman of color to be honest. Most of the organizations are led by trans men, white trans women and allies.
So I can donate to a trans led organization like TransPride Pgh that probably has the longest reach, but that is nowhere near enough to be truly investing in the lives and welfare of my sisters. The next step is to attend the conference and listen. Ironically, I’ll be presenting on Sunday which is not listening, but I am planning to talk about the responses I’ve received via AMPLIFY from the trans community. And I plan to listen with intentionality, to identify other spaces where I can lend my support and energy.
I remember very distinctly the first time I attended a trans 101 panel. It was in the old GLCC space on Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill (front right conference room.) Ledcat was with me. I can’t remember the names of the panelists, but I do recall that one couple was from a rural community and had a frank discussion about the wife identifying as a cis lesbian while her partner identified as a queer trans male. I also remember a panelist talking in great detail about the relationship between reconstructive surgery for breast cancer survivors and the surgical options available to trans women and trans men. I had never really considered that connection before. In fact, the entire session was eye-opening for me and very inspiring. I’d love to connect with those panelists if you happen to know who they were. I think it was during the 2004 Pridefest. It was very gracious of them to open their lives as a tutorial for the rest of us. And brave. And it has had an impact on me all these years later.
It was only years later than I truly understood how significant it was for these neighbors to educate me by sharing their intimate stories. So while I don’t have a lot of resources, I am trying to invest them with specific focus in the spaces where I believe I can have an impact consistent with the values I espouse. I sponsored Latino Pride, Pittsburgh Black Pride and plan to sponsor the Reel Q Film Festival.
I encourage you to consider participating in the TransPride Pittsburgh Conference. There are events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday open to allies as well.