TransHaven’s Road Trip To TransOhio 2010

3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium – Friday, August 13th, 2010

The 3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium in Columbus, Ohio, which starts today,  is a gathering of people, covering the broad spectrum of gender community  from across the United States to learn as well educate others. The attendees cover organizational heads and members, advocates, activists as well as allies and partners. The various seminars and workshops serve to share information that is sometimes otherwise not easy to find, ie workshops on the Intersex Community, an often forgotten aspect of society.

Never without a bit of fun, the Conference starts with a ‘Meet and Greet’ at a local community venue and noteworthy events are scheduled in the evenings to entertain after a day of training. From this conference, we bring back the knowledge to share in our own advocacy’s and workshops, and otherwise educate ourselves for when dealing with issues in our own Community.

The symposium is hosted by TransOhio, lead by Founder, Chair and colleague, friend, Shane Morgan.

3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium – Saturday, August 14, 2010

The symposium was opened with a short welcoming speech by TransOhio’s Shane Morgan. The symposium itself is being held in Ohio State University’s Ohio Union, an impressive structure located just north of Columbus’s Short North district on North High St.

Shane introduced the keynote speaker Bear Bergman, the well-known queer writer, activist, theatrical actor, who brought humor to his keynote of the serious business of being Trans*. His address ‘Sing If You Are Glad To Be Trans’  brought the message of be proud to be Trans as an important aspect of transgender life as far too often only the aspect of all the negative is what one hears. As Mr Bergman pointed out, we are a society best known for being raped and murdered, otherwise best known for exploitation films and discrimination.

After the keynote address, we attended a variety of the wide offering of seminars and workshops. As ever, I chose those that tended to be along the lines of advocacy or subject matters that I otherwise wished to become better knowledgeable for myself.  Of these, “Intersex 101: Similarities and Differences Between Intersex and Trans People” and “Creating Positive Media Experiences for Families of Transgender Children” were quite informative in their content.

Intersex 101 was given by a well-known Intersex activist who described to the attendees that an intersexual condition was that of medical nature and not of gender identity and that an Intersexual person may be masculine or feminine.  A discussion of the forty different intersex conditions were described and it is estimated that the ratio of live birth with intersex conditions is of 1:2000.

Kim Pearson, who is becoming a fast favorite of mine, is the Executive Director of Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) and gave a lecture dealing with media exposure of Trans children, including do’s and what not to do. Ms. Pearson’s lecture, which include experiences with the producers of Tyra Banks, Oprah, and Dr. Oz, pointed out the failures of some of these as well as the successes. Her lecture and notes are very applicable for those older, as well, with a downloadable guide on the TYFA website. 

Sunday, will bring a more ‘Poli-Sci’ flavor to the Conference, with a morning Plenary by Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and some workshops geared to the Trans Equality Movement.

For more information on Mr Bergman, follow this link to www.sbearbergman.com and for more information on Ms. Pearson’s advocacy for Trans Youth with TYFA, follow this link to www.imatyfa.org

3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium – Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today’s Plenary started off the last day of the Conference. Schedule speaker Mara Keisling, Exec Director of NCTE did not make the Conference due to an unforeseen conflict and the Plenary was given by Sue Doefer, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. Her presentation was a review of the current national issues affecting the Transgender Community and led into an open forum sort of style where the audience was encouraged to participate with their questions and thoughts with regard to the issues. With the Trans Caucus also affected by Ms. Keisling’s inability to attend, the ‘Plenary’ was carried over to another room where that discussion was carried forth as a replacement workshop. Issues such as the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act were of course discussed, as well as issues being legislated in various states with regard to ‘Anti-Bullying’ (in schools) legislation as well as gender markers and state-level anti-discrimination legislation.

Shane Morgan, Founder and Chair of TransOhio, host of the Symposium, held a workshop on Coalition Building. A well-used method of working issues towards Equality, we have become to know that these issues are best resolved by working in coalitions. Whether it be organization with organization, or other entity, such sharing of knowledge and experience makes such work so much easier. TransHaven for instance, works in coalition with PROMO in many of its advocacy’s where it makes it easier to access the legislative bases where a lot of our work is needed to be resolved.

The Conference ended with a screening of the film “Riot Acts: Gender Deviance In Musical Performance. This documentary was of the influence of gender in music, with many clips of music groups which featured bands and groups with Trans*and GenderQueer, etc.  artists performing and talking about their work and audiences. From Rock to Rap to Acoustic forms of expression, this film caught it all. A must see!

After the film, I was invited to stop by Stonewall Columbus, the local LGBT* Community Center while the hosts  dropped off boxes of materials from the Conference. A rather nice place located right in the ‘Short North‘ district, they actually own two buildings, one unused at this time. From there, we joined Bear Beargman, representatives from the Transgender Education Network of Texas, TransOhio and others at a dinner at a Community venue just down the street.

Not surprising, this was an excellent conference for those Trans* and our allies. Many different seminars and workshops, there is something for all covering the term LGBTIQA and recommend anyone having an opportunity to attend, to do so. This particular event had about 250 attendees from across the nation.

Robyn Carolyn Montague

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