Saturday, August 14, 2010


The last couple of days have been a blur.  Rather than go into excruciating detail about the breakneck speed and ridiculous hours of the past couple of days I'll simply share a couple of highlights.

The TransOhio Symposium in Columbus, OH was another of these local events that's incredibly well planned, remarkably well attended, contains a combination of local and national flavors, and seems to be the "trend" in trans conferences these days.  I was only in Columbus for a little over 24 hours but was very impressed by the entire thing.  Congrats and thanks to everyone involved.

It was nice to have an opportunity to spend time with friends, as well.  It's an opportunity that doesn't come all that often and I truly appreciated it when it does.  Again - thanks for all the wonderful friendship and hospitality (you know who you are).

As I type this it's after 1am and I'm back in Rochester to visit with family for a few days.

I wanted to take a moment to kind of clarify and expand on one of my sentiments from the last post.  That is, the frustration that I'm feeling with what I'll call the "mainstream" LGB movement and that I tried to express.

The fact is - there was a time when I felt that perhaps the best opportunity to leverage my skills and my passions was as part of that movement.  The frustration I have been sharing isn't new frustration - it's frustration that I've had for a while but just haven't expressed in that way before.  How sad is it that the same glass ceiling that prevents trans people from getting hired into corporate America positions also seems to exist when it comes to hiring an openly trans person into an LGBT non-profit?  It's very sad.

Why is this?  I can think of several possible reasons.  One significant one, though, is that I think many trans people are perceived as having an agenda that's different than LBT agendas.  In the bigger picture I suppose we can all agree that "Equality" is the goal.  But when it comes to prioritizing and strategizing there may be a perception that my priorities as a trans person may not jive with someone who's not.  Frankly, I don't think there has been a bigger cheer leader for broader communities than me but whereas there was a time when I strongly believed that more recent experiences have caused me to re-think.

Some have argued that as long as broader LGBT organizations are responsible to predominantly gay and lesbian boards who engage predominantly gay and lesbian donors there will be this conundrum.  Perhaps.  But it takes leadership to see it and I'd argue that current events are more a statement about leadership (or the lack of it) than anything.

Don't get me wrong.  There are some organizations where this isn't an issue because they walk the talk.  And, often times the workings of the organizations themselves is fully inclusive - this isn't a condemnation of the broader movement.  But at my talks across the country one of the questions that I'm often asked is how organizations can attract more trans-people or be more inclusive and the answer is an easy one.  BE inclusive.  If you've got the full spectrum of your constituency represented in the workings of your organizations it's much more inviting, and it's more than just talk.  It's action, and this entire rant is all about action (or, more specifically, the lack of it).  It's about bridges; if you build it - they WILL come.

The most important learning out of all of this, for me, is that wherever my path leads it's not something to be sad about.  I'm comfortable that I've done my part and that I'll continue to do my part for as long as I can.  For whatever reasons the time of actively pursuing more formal roles may be waning - in part because of some of these frustrations - and I'm turning my attention to other pursuits.

The fact is - I've got a job.  I'd have to quit my job to take another job.  I've got a number of things on the horizon that I'm excited about as well.  This isn't about desperation.  It's more about the lack of respect that we have for one another or for people who aspire to positions of leadership in the movement.  We pursue these roles because we're passionate about the mission.  When are we going to see someone who breaks the mold in those roles?

Me?  I'm busier than I need to be.  I'll be here in Rochester for several days.  In the next few weeks I'll be in Atlanta for SCC, I've got a couple of events in the DC area, I'm doing an event in New Orleans, and there may be a couple of other trips in my future.  I'd also like to get out to Austin to see my little man.  All things considered - lots going on.

I'll write more tomorrow but now it's 1:30am and I need some sleep.  It's nice to be back "home".  :)


Anonymous said...

Ah, finally Donna time. eh?

Tara said...

Steffie and I really enjoyed our time with you. It was my pleasure to treat you to that lobsterbisque! I hope we see you back in Ohio sometime soon. We're planning on going to SCC...if you end up there, be sure to give me a have my card!