I attended the 2014 Keystone conference in Harrisburg Pennsylvania this year. I was a presenter for a workshop entitled “Genderqueer”. I chose to bring this topic to the conference because it is rumored that the conference lacks diversity. It is mostly trans women. There are not many transmen or gender variant people or workshops. I knew that Trancentral PA was interested and open to bringing diversity to the conference. So I offered a workshop entitled “Genderqueer” in which it would explore the idea of gender.
I set up the workshop much like I had in the past, the first part we would explore gender. We came up with words that were used to describe various expressions of gender. Because the room was mostly trans women and gender variant people or cisgendered people that were open to ideas about gender; it was fairly easy to make the connections about gender and how it can be fluid, variant and questioned. And although everyone can agree that gender is an outward expression not attached to the genitalia. Not everyone could understand how you could be both. One transwoman was particularly enlightened and completely understood that the younger generation was actually just questioning gender. We question the need for it in any way shape or form.
I also attended a workshop entitled ballroom dancing. It was actually very exciting and lots of fun and since there were no gender roles it was fun to learn the male side of dancing. There was no discomfort about which gender role I wanted to take and everyone welcomed me with open arms. Maybe it was because there was more transwomen then transmen and we certainly needed more masculine to lead the dances but either way I was made to feel comfortable. I really enjoyed the workshop and truly loved learning to ballroom dance from a masculine point of view. Now I just needed a lady that might like to dance with me, regularly. Maybe a drag queen friend…
I also attended a comedy show with Ian Harvey in which I thoroughly enjoyed. I brought along my fiance’ Arial whom happily sat at my side and enjoyed the show. Before the show I met Ian Harvey out in the hallway. We had a short conversation regarding gender and was refreshed to know that someone else in the trans community understood ideas around genderqueer. It was refreshing to speak to someone of like mind. Interestingly, I know he is from the west coast. Often I find myself like minded with those on the west coast including ideas around food, gender, and sex. Ian’s show was both refreshing and hilarious. It was refreshing to have a sex positive person pushing the boundaries of the central Pa general population. I realize that a lot of people at the conference are not just from Central PA but for sure there were some individuals uncomfortable with his humor. His sex positivity and trans openness was refreshing enough to leave my fiance and I with huge smiles and a feeling of hope for a future. Comedians like him are so important to our community as a whole and his enlightened ideas about gender and sex are evolutionary. Here’s a video to get a feel for him.
Overall I would say that certainly the conference is very heavy on the transwoman workshops and attendees, but the desire to change that is certainly there. I would say that with a continuation of gender activists like myself offering some new ideas about gender it might just balance out. If your a transwoman interested in hormones, transitioning, or surgeries this is a conference recommended for you!