Thank you to everyone who came to our conference on Friday, to all our speakers and to Joanne Lockwood and Russell Thackeray who not only put the whole event together but who hosted it with such skill.
We wanted a conference that gave our attendees the tools to be better allies, to understand more about not the process of transition but what it is like to be trans, day in, day out and most importantly what it is like when being trans is simply an aspect of who you are.
Jo opened the day with a dose of realism of what being an ally means, asking us to think wider than one strand of diversity to recognise that being a true ally to one means being an ally to all. That we, as allies, have a duty to educate ourselves. To be an ally means to think of every person as a multifaceted individual and to consider how everything intersects, we are not simply race or gender or age, we are fully formed human beings and in becoming an ally we become the person who takes up the strain so the marginalised person doesn’t have to, and say “It’s not OK for you to do this in my presence.” Everyone has experienced a time when they were disadvantaged, Jo asked us to touch that space within ourselves and find our empathy.
Everyone’s story is different and no one knows that more than Maximillian who took us through all the support that Chrysalis offers, those of you who already follow his blog will know how much he cares about the support we offer our members and you only need to check out our testimonials to see the impact of that support.
We had a packed program and yet even that schedule paled into insignificance compared to Paeton’s epic journey, across Britain, across genders with the Tour de Trans. Paeton inspired us all to get on our bikes and ride with them next year. Online conferences give everyone the chance to share their thoughts during the speakers time in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a live session and watching everyone’s comments I could feel the energy in the room. Paeton and Flis (the Project Manager) will be building on this years success with an event for all next year so time to get our your lockdown bike and start training.
It’s a good job I can remember everything as there’s now a kitten helping me type the blog and sitting on my day book! Katie Neaves was up next, a professional speaker and photographer of impressive pedigree . Katie shared with us her journey into becoming a role model, and the incredible feeling of it being right to embrace who you are. Katie’s ability to put herself out there, to be visible and to speak so eloquently, and humourously, really showed us that it’s OK to be trans and that transition doesn’t mean that you stop being you.
I always love a conference when I come away not only having learnt something but feeling inspired and connected to something wonderful and our next speaker most definitely did that. When I first proposed Lucia Lucas’s name to Russell we didn’t think that a world famous opera singer would be available to speak but she was and what a conversation she and Russell had! Like Katie Lucia realised that being trans and transition was something she needed to do for herself but she wasn’t going to change who she was to do so. Lucia kept her voice, kept her career and my goodness what a voice! An insight into the operatic world and into the ways that Lucia is working towards better inclusion through voice only auditions, allowing those who don’t conform to the conventional ideas of “right” to be heard and be considered for roles. Her call to arms for producers and directors to consider the voice first and then to work around any challenges and reasonable adjustments.
Georgie Williams is a name perhaps less well known outside the trans world but I assure you they are a person to watch, an academic with a passion and delivery that both educates and challenges. Georgie exemplifies Jo’s message that support for one strand of diversity isn’t enough, you have to understand all the intersectionalities and I learnt so much about how other cultures and nations view gender identity and how the impact of colonialism still colours both our view of other nations and cultures and also how those cultures chose to intersect with us. Where the acronym LGBT is considered colonialist but the word queer is OK. Language and life intersecting.
Julie Miller is another consummate professional, taking all of our audience on a journey through what it is to be trans and slipping in some of those statistics that really get the message across that whilst being trans is simply an aspect of human diversity being trans and social transition still has many challenges and that whilst it’s important to be positive about the power of authenticity there is still so much work to be done to drive out the prejudice.
And finally, the man I’d been waiting to hear all day, the one and only Stephen Whittle. Long I hope you will remain in contact with us and hopefully we can work together because if anywhere is building a community of authentic trans people then it’s Chrysalis and the work that you started in the ’70s is still ongoing. Stephen started to change the world with Press for Change and his life and work formed a considerable part of my own influences, knowing that being trans is simply an aspect of who you are and that legal rights are as much about supporting those around you as for you. That there is still so much work to do and together we can smash that concrete ceiling.
So thank you everyone for an incredible day. Russell said in the green room that it’s incredible how deep online relationships can be, especially those formed since lockdown, and I couldn’t agree more. Friday brought a community together and the bonds we have formed will be long lasting.
If my writing has tempted you to find out more then the recording of the conference will be available in a few days. Check out our shop to find out how you can access four hours of incredible talks and discover why Gender Identity Matters in 2020.
Cheeky kitten shot