The 2009 TransOhio Symposium was a veritable who’s who in the trans community. Attendees, presenters and performers came all the way from the likes of D.C., Missouri, and Iowa to see what the Buckeye State has to offer by way of trans activism. (Forty percent of Americans do live within 500 miles of Ohio, after all.)
The keynote speaker Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty, spoke over lunch to a packed house at Capital Law School. The lecture hall was full, so her talk was streamed in another lecture to accommodate the overflow.
Boyd talked about her relationship with Betty as her transition began about 10 years ago. As partners, Betty promised to move as slowly as she could with her transition and Boyd offered to move as fast as she could; Betty’s ultimate goal with her transition was to still be married to Boyd when all was said and done. This, of course, caused some controversy among Betty’s community of trans friends.
To mark the nationwide kiss-in scheduled for that day, at 2 p.m. Boyd stopped and asked everyone in the room to lock lips in solidarity with the demonstrations.
Boyd highlighted six areas that are important for couples undergoing transition to remember:
- People will get the trans partner’s new name wrong. It takes time, but don’t give them forever to make the adjustments either.
- While every new development – like that first like sprout of facial hair – may be exciting to you, it might be a conversation that is better had in depth with other trans friends.
- Get trans friends: Don’t put everything on the non-trans partner.
- Try to walk in your non-trans partner’s shoes (probably not literally). They are probably having a hard time with the fact that they are having a hard time with some aspect of your transition.
- Know the person you are talking to.
- Pick the time and space for heavy conversations. Moments of joy for one partner may not be so easy for the other.
Following lunch, Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, gave a refreshing lecture on the current national policies and legislation. Keisling was frank and entertaining, giving the audience the raw version of what’s up in Washington.
She highlighted the hate crimes bills as monumental because it is the first time transpeople have ever been mentioned positively in federal legislation. This is important because in order for their to be more progress made we have to have lawmakers agreeing that killing transpeople is wrong before they can agree firing them is wrong.
NCTE has several resources on its Web site, including Transgender Equality for the Federal Government, ENDA Fact Sheet and ENDA Toolkit, Driver’s License Policies (state by state), PASS ID Fact Sheet and more on the left sidebar.
Following the conference activities was a variety show at Wall St. Fabulously Fluid featured a hodgepodge musical performances, standup comedy and drag, including the Cleveland Kings and Girls, the Royal Renegades, the Black Mondays and a few solo performers.
Adam Apple of Cleveland Kings and Girls performed his opus “Stop and Stare.” The performance begins with Apple getting into drag on stage to light elevator music; once he has transformed, he begins revealing facts about himself – ranging from mundane to miserable – and the song “Stop and Stare” by OneRepublic replaces the other music midway through. Once Apple has gone through the posters, he performs a more hopeful song. The message of the entire performance is that Apple is human, and so are the rest of us.