Trans-Caucus

Trans-Caucus

Around the time of the City from Below Conference, there had been a great deal of trans-organizing happening in Baltimore. The energy was high for many transfolks, queers, and allies as the end of March approached.  The Conference was jam-packed with activists from in and out-of-town, and it seemed like an interesting space to not only meet those involved in similar struggles and organizing work, but to really sit down and discuss the reality of modern, radical, queer activism.

 

 

The Trans-Caucus was initially designed to be a space for transgender individuals and their allies including, but not limited to, gender performers, fairies, transexuals, intersex folks, gender pirates, genderqueers, people who identify as gender variant or non-conforming, butches, femmes, and others. 

 

At first, there was the desire that the Trans-Caucus would be solely for a very particular group,with a limited focus. The hope was that this specificity might birth some profound  conversations and crucial organizing. 

 

However, there weren’t any panels at  the conference  that clearly and explicitly discussed gender and/or sexuality. Whether or not any of the conference’s panelists are trans, queer, or ally activists is inconsequential. The panels at the conference did not  categorically discuss these subjects. Therefore it was up to the conference attendants themselves to create the dialogue.   

 

So, originally Trans-Caucus was meant to be only for transgender individuals. Yet, by the second day, we opened up the discourse to all queers and allies. 

 

It is important to stress that The City from Below Conference inspired us to discuss why trans issues are vital to the grassroots base of a city. Furthermore, from this inspiration, we realized that in order for  the discussion to be complete, we needed to  be inclusive to all of those who are queer and our allies. 

 

On the first day, we began with introducing ourselves. We said our names and, if we desired, our pronouns. After that, we started exchanging information about the places we were from and the trans or queer organizing that had been happening in our hometowns. 

 

Those from Baltimore, discussed Teams Trans and our recent efforts to get the local gay bar (The Hippo) to address a rather horrible transphobic event that occurred in their space. 

 

Individuals from Louisville, Kentucky, talked about the queer movie nights they were hosting. The movie nights are very important for young queers in their town. The movies are something they had been putting a great deal of energy towards.   

 

Most of us pointed to the need for more visibility and issue-awareness in our general and radical communities. Even in the different panels at The City from Below Conference, we all displayed the general sentiment that we felt alienated from many discussions, especially, discussions of communities where many transfolks are found in large number. It seemed that transgender individuals were not mentioned when relevant. We also spoke about why transfolks/queers did not feel comfortable speaking at these panels. Only once did we hear the transgender community mentioned. This was during the sex worker discussion. Our community was only mentioned once throughout an entire weekend. This truth was difficult to swallow.

 

So, those at Trans-Caucus came together to ask ourselves: Why were we left out of the conversations, even when we make up a large part of  the discussed communities? Trans/queers are  part of the youth population, student population, worker population, sex worker population and we’re deeply entrenched among those living in poverty. We are part of those communities and we should have been part of those conversations. 

 

Trans-Caucus is not blaming the organizers or the panelists at The City from Below Conference for the lack of trans/queer representation. Instead, we look at the conference and it helps us notice our lack of visibility, even within our radical communities. It is up to us, to transfolks, queers and our allies, to change this fact. Hopefully, Trans-Caucus was part of that solution.

 

Trans-Caucus provided a space for many trans, queers, and our allies to articulate our experiences. Sitting in one room together allowed us to put a language and a voice to that which we’re rarely given the opportunity. From where we get our hormones (food, alternative sources, etc.), to various awareness projects, to LGBT politics, to gentrification through the lenses of creating ‘gayboorhoods’, to being self-critical,to  Bash Back, to the “Genderful World” discussion in KIDZ CITY, to FIERCE, to alternative economic strategies through queer theory, to resisting heteropatriarchy, and, finally, to gay shame.

 

The City from Below Conference was an amazing weekend that created a space for fundamental and thoughtful exchange about  grassroots organizing in the city. From this created space, trans/queer folks realized our need to create a space for discourse about our own grassroots organizing in the city. 

 

In each step we take to represent ourselves to the larger whole, we help ensure our visibility  to our communities. It is important to let our radical communities be constantly aware of us. They are who will  fight with us. They are who will stand beside us. We hope we asked for that awareness from our fellow activists, when we organized the Trans-Caucus at The City from Below Conference. After all,  if we don’t raise our hands in a panel discussion that doesn’t, but should, include us... then no one is silencing us but ourselves. 

 

Trans-Caucus was not originally on The City from Below Conference schedule. Nevertheless, we put ourselves on the schedule. By doing so, we did what organizing conferences are meant to generate. We organized. We gave ourselves a presence within our radical community. We decided to be visible and, so... we were. 

 

As trans, queers and allies we say that the city from below is our city, too. We aim to reclaim it by refusing to be invisible. We refuse to be silent, waiting in the shadows. For every discussion that we should be a part of and are not... we will become a part of that discussion. Through creating Trans-Caucus we not only created a space for us to come together- we also stood up and stood beside every other activist that was and is fighting to reclaim the city. 

 

We will not be silent. We will be seen.

We ask you to stand with us, to fight with us, to organize with us.

We’re here. We’re trans. We’re queer.

And we aren’t going anywhere.