You may have been wondering where we skipped off to last week. We were enjoying ourselves at UC Riverside's Trans* Asterisk Conference and, in truth, didn't quite recover in time to sing it's praises last Monday morning during the Mash-Up! Nevertheless, we couldn't let such an amazing weekend go unsung!
Today's intersection is FEMME-INIST MASCULINITY! You might think that sounds like a contradiction, and while it might be rare, we assure you it exists. We saw it, felt it and engaged in it at the conference last weekend and it was utterly magical. A unicorn glittered demonstration of community building, space making and dialogue.
We got to spend some time with old friends, had serendipitous run-ins with folks swirling in nearby communities and gathered more new crushes than we can count! So many amazing hearts and spirits and utterly fabulous accessories! We were absolutely impressed by the warm and efficient organizing and honored and flattered to be among the ranks of the other speakers. Our only regret to participating was that presenting kept us from attending other workshops! However, with all of these other wonderful pieces what will shine the brightest in our memories was our spontaneous extended workshop turned community summit!
We were so excited to run Taming the Hulk: Temperance for the Transmasculine Journey and will likely post some of the activities at some point. As we got going on planning and prepping we quickly realized that time was short and our activity list grew/shrunk as we discussed and organized. We did the math and figured, maybe 30 folks at the most? We spent some time thinking, okay, if 10 folks show up for this gig can we still do our activities? Would the processing exercises resonate for folks that were unfamiliar with gender deconstruction? Were we offering real tips for temperance or were we just echoing the narrative that finding and remaining consistent with our own versions of masculinity was an uphill unsupported cultural battle?
Needless to say, we were pretty blown away when we returned to our room to find that there were already about 40 participants waiting for us and participants continued to roll in for the next 10 minutes until we were up to probably around 60-70! As these things go, we scuttled about, took a breath, re-routed where we could and then just surrendered to being around and in such amazing community. We tried to sink into the fact that in a lot of ways this gathering in itself was a movement towards transmasculine temperance- that folks were seeking out space to come together to find balance in this journey often wrought with extreme ups and downs.
The participation and experiences that got shared in our workshop were already more than we could have hoped for but as we took final comments we were again pleasantly surprised. Folks voiced that there wasn't as much deconstruction as hoped and that they wanted to know if there was more space to keep the conversation going. Participants went to speak to the conference organizers, found us an empty room during the final workshop slot and spread the word. As we rolled into Taming the Hulk Part Deux, we were again floored as a good 30-40 magnificent humans came in to discuss and deconstruct the narratives of masculinity that support us and constrain us. With very little facilitation the group made space for each other's voices, witnessed and validated each other's stories and generally commiserated and problem solved around the hulking presence of masculinity in all of our lives and gendered journeys.
It brought me an intense feeling of Kim Katrina Crosby's prezi on Femme Science and Community Based Research in action. I implore you take a look at it, take it in and add Laura Mvula's That's Alright to your conquer the day playlists! As a community we took on the community agreements that Crosby discussed:
Express care, concern and consideration to yourself & others. Speak for yourself. Protect each other & yourself. Examine your prejudice. Share your needs and give ample space for others to do the same. Treat others the way that they want to be treated. Ask.
Another’s experience does not invalidate your own,
but it should and necessarily does complicate your own.
We were so thoroughly grateful for the heart opening and intuition practice that we experienced at the conference, that drew folks to our workshop and that left space for folks to take and create what they needed. A lot of the discussion surrounded the struggle of binary systems, the way that accessing masculinity sometimes felt mutually exclusive from feminine energy/nurturing/space and the loss of one identity/community as another solidified. Folks voiced the desire to be conscious of the unique nature of this journey into privileged space and were desperately seeking ways to honor it as they also took on masculinity in ways that felt holding to them.
It felt like we not only started to "Tame the Hulk" but that we started to build a framework for "Femme-inist Masculinity."
Even with our extended time together, we know that we've just barely scratched the surface. We're figuring out what would feel like the best ways for us to continue the conversation and we'll leave more information here as it comes. If you would like to be a part of this continued conversation please shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,
Skye + Traci
Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.