Transmission – Are We Creating Change in Kansas City?

I’m still kind of in recovery mode from this year’s Creating Change conference at Crown Center November 8th through the 12th. I’m not sure what the actual attendance was for the event, but it did seem like there were several host committee badges that were not picked up when I picked up mine on Thursday or took a quick check on Friday.
I won’t say that this was a once in a lifetime event for many of us in Kansas City; Creating Change has happened in many cities around the nation. If you did attend parts of the conference, good. If you attended most of the conference sessions, well that’s much better.
Except for a couple of sessions, I attended workshops from Wednesday through Saturday. I confess I slept through my alarm on Sunday morning and barely made it to the closing speeches.
Two of the least attended sessions, which were on Wednesday, were probably some of the most important sessions. All the attendees on Wednesday started out together to discuss how racism affects all of us. After about an hour, the group was split into the People of Color Institute and Challenging White Supremacy. I attended the Challenging White Supremacy session, which was a discussion of how so many of the issues that the LGBTQ communities face are framed in terms that are more palatable for white people. Many of our local events tend to take place in businesses that have a predominantly white clientele. As a progressive movement, we need to include all LGBTQ peoples and our allies regardless of race, economic status, physical ability, or any other method of diminishing our ranks.
I spent Thursday in a workshop discussing class issues that was facilitated by several members of Queers for Economic Justice in New York. Many people, for example, don’t understand why some people have an issue with proposed laws like Missouri’s Voter ID Law, which was declared unconstitutional earlier this year. Here’s my situation. Earlier this year, I lost my wallet, which contained my state ID and social security card, and several other things. To get a replacement ID, first I had to get a copy of my birth certificate. Because I didn’t have a valid photo ID, I wasn’t able to go to the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department office and get a copy of my birth certificate. I had to write to Jefferson City to get a copy. Because I’ve had a legal name change, which didn’t amend my birth certificate, I also had to get a certified copy of that document. Although neither document actually proves that I am that person named in these documents, it’s required to get a replacement of my ID. By the way, my photo is in their database, which is a better guarantee of I am who I’m claiming to be. If I had been born a natal female and married or divorced, I’d need certified copies of all of these legal documents. These are not free. With Missouri’s proposed Voter ID Law, the requirements were different if one had a valid driver’s license from someone having a state-issued ID card, although there are issued by the same agencies.
Thursday’s Welcoming Session included a brief performance by the Heartland Men’s Chorus and speeches by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Missouri State Senator-elect Jolie Justus. When Rep. Cleaver was a city council member in Kansas City, Missouri, he originally voted against including sexual orientation in the city human rights ordinance, but shortly after that he attended a Pride Picnic and became a supporter of the LGBT community. Jolie Justus spoke of how she felt inspired to run for office after hearing Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman speak at the 2004 Creating Change Conference in St. Louis.
On Friday I attended several workshops on transgender issues and ways to try to end racism. I also attended a 3-hour Skills Academy workshop on sexual freedom. One of the things I have noticed in facilitating support groups with other transgender people is that we often are hesitant to discuss sexuality. Many transgender people have issues with their own sexuality—like many other people—based on the incongruities of our bodies with our sexual orientations, which is why I ask questions like, can a lesbian have a penis? Or, does a gay man actually need to have one? During the sexual freedom workshop, I did meet one of my heroes in the LGBTQ movement, Carol Queen from San Francisco. It’s because of some of her writings that I have been able to view gender and sexual orientation outside of binary constructs.
On Saturday I cofacilitated a workshop discussing strategies for living outside the gender binary with Alley Stoughton of Manhattan, Kansas, and was on a panel discussing attacks on immigration, privacy, and transgender rights. The other panel members were Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., Cole Krawitz of Demos in New York, and Gael Guevara from the Silvia Rivera Law Project in New York.
A first for Creating Change this year was the showing of LGBTQ movies during the conference. I would have liked to have seen most of these films but was too busy in other workshops. Among the films that were screened were Call Me Malcolm about a transgender seminary student, Lisa Evans’ The Same, But Different about four area transgender people, Screaming Queens about the Compton Cafeteria Riots in 1965 San Francisco, and Cruel and Unusual about transwomen serving time in men’s prisons.
Next year’s Creating Change will be in Detroit, Michigan. If you have any desire to facilitate change in our communities, you should attend a Creating Change Conference – the sooner, the better. If you want to know more about what struggles national, regional, statewide, and local organizations are facing, again you should attend Creating Change. And if you are not happy with the status quo in your communities, you should most definitely attend Creating Change.
As we come to the end of another year, I wish everyone the best and improvement in their lives as we go into the New Year.

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