November 24th, 2015

queer

ways that TBC is a safe space and an unsafe space, for me.

icon: "queer (the logo for Transcending Boundaries Conference overlaid with the words "genderfree, queer, + trans / never a 1 or 0")"

This is a thing I shared in the TBC facebook group.

I'm a bit scared to do this, but it is important, so here goes. I'm going to talk about why TBC is important as a safe space for me, and also the qualities that make it an unsafe space for me.

First, TBC is the closest thing I have ever experienced to being fully understood, respected, and appreciated. In all other spaces except my own home, I am forcibly assigned gender and covered in a layer of assumptions, and almost every conversation I have is fending off one awful idea or another. TBC is damn-near sacred to me. But that doesn't mean it is perfect.

Ways that TBC is a safe space for me (please keep in mind that this is just my experience and others may have had very different ones):

-No one assumes gender. I am asked about my pronouns, and people know what they mean and respect them.

-No one polices gender. I am not asked invasive questions about transition or presentation. I am not looked at as not-belonging because I appear cis and femme.

-No one states sexist stereotypes as if they are fact (at least they didn't in my perception). I don't feel I have to do the endless resistance of that that I do everywhere else.

-No one assumes sexuality: this year at least I didn't feel people assumed I was allosexual or any particular orientation.

-No one assumes relational style: I didn't feel that anyone assumed that I or people in general were monogamous or non-monogamous.

-No one shows fatphobia. I didn't feel like there was a general expectation of thinness, or an expectation that if one is fat one must be high femme. I didn't catch any negative reactions to my body size.

-No one assumes neurotypicality. I didn't feel like I had to try to appear 'normal' in my thinking, and when I got stuck or lost my train of thought (or when others did) there was no response of impatience or shame. I felt safe knowing that if I needed to escape people, no one would think I was rude, and there was a place to go. I almost cried when I saw the shape/color cards prepared for people to flag how social/interactive they were feeling.

-No one assumes all people have the same access needs. I felt safely confident that if my friend needed to wear sunglasses to deal with a migraine or other issue, that no one would treat that as weird or ask tiresome questions. For most of the conference I felt safe that if I needed to have something repeated or slowed down so that I could parse it out and hear it, that would happen, and I felt safe that there would be no overwhelming loudness (the one time I did not feel safe in this way was from someone yelling into a mic for comedic effect).

-No one assumes everyone has money. I so very much appreciate the low price of TBC (less than 1/3rd what most gender/progressive conferences charge) and the fact that they are dedicated to maintaining a scholarship fund for those who can't afford that. I think it could be even better if part of the scholarship fund went to one or two hotel rooms which scholarship fund folk could use. I know that for me, if I didn't have help I could not go even if it was free, because of the cost of travel and board.

However, Collapse )