Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creating Change 2011

I'm in Minneapolis attending Creating Change.  We got here Wednesday  The good news is that the trip here was pretty much uneventful.  We had to rebook to avoid Chicago and thankfully the monster storm that closed Chicago missed the Charlotte area - our connection point.  It was friggin' cold outside when we arrived (wind chills -15 that night) but today the high is near 30 - allegedly the warmest day so far this year.  Once you're downtown you can get pretty much anywhere by going through walkways that connect everything although it seems kind of like a mouse maze to me.  I've only been outside once since we got here.

I've enjoyed the conference, but it's almost like sensory overload with so many things happening and so many people.  There was a full-day session on Thursday specifically for LGBT Centers that was particularly useful.  It was nice to meet others from around the country who manage LGBT Centers of all sizes to share strategies, concerns, challenges, and visions.

Highlights yesterday included Task Force ED Rea Carey's "State of the Movement" address and a 3-hour Executive Director round-table session the provided a forum for ED's of organizations from around the country to come together to share/discuss/support in similar fashion.  There were 55 people there and it was very helpful in a number of ways for a number of reasons.

Another highlight yesterday was the release of the joint Task Force/NCTE Report on transgender discrimination, "Injustice at Every Turn".  It has been called "groundbreaking" and I agree.  For the first time there is some quantifiable data to validate things that many of us have known for a long time (see some of the highlights here).  There was a press conference yesterday morning to release the report and it has received quite a bit of media coverage (local paperAP, Advocate, Huffington Post, others are easy to find), it was part of Rea's remarks yesterday afternoon, and there was a reception to review the findings last night.  An "Executive Summary" version was on every seat for the Plenary yesterday and I've collected a handful of them to bring home.

One of the things that gets highlighted among the many tragic statistics is that over 40% of the over 6,000 respondents admitted to having attempted suicide.  Part of the discussion at the event last night is  how all the various factors that were reported are inter-connected: How harassment at school often leads to isolation and homelessness/joblessness/dangerous life realities.  How loss of a job lead to other difficult life challenges.  It's a difficult reality that too many of us can relate personally in our own experiences.

One of the words that was used several times in the remarks about the findings was "Resilient".  As a group and individually we are resilient to make it through the day in the face of such oppressive odds.  To those who say that this is a "choice" I've always said and continue to say, "Are you kidding me?  Someone would choose this?  No friggin' way!"  Those realities are enough to scare even the hardiest, neediest, and most resilient soul.  I'll have to share that I sometimes get tired of being resilient.

As if on queue, a spot on Craig Ferguson last night was ignorant, hateful, despicable, and just plain disgusting.  If similar treatment was given to African Americans, or Muslims, or other groups it would have created an uproar and, in fact, would never have been aired.  But as is with the case of the skit on SNL last week there is absolutely nothing funny about this, it is totally without redeeming value, and in fact is indefensible in its bad taste and ignorance in ANY context.

Anyway - back to the Report.....

One thing that wasn't covered in the survey and that I personally believe is a pandemic directly related to all of these many challenges is isolation and loneliness.  Loss of hope is often fueled by a sense of being alone and that things will never get better.  If we go back to Psych 101 and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs the emotional needs of intimacy and warmth and appreciation are key human needs and the inability to address them can become overwhelming in and of themselves.  I admitted in an entry last week that I was lonely, and I am just as I think many of us are.  But there's no way to measure that other than to simply recognize that it's part of this difficult interconnection of challenges that we call life.

I have found the past few days very helpful but I've also needed to find time to balance.  I've enjoyed reconnecting with some friends locally, having an opportunity to sit down and chat with others who are here from around the country, and to soak up the energy that 2,500 people bring to something like this.  I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

The conference wraps up for me later today and I'll have dinner with a friend.  Our flight leaves tomorrow morning and I hope/expect to be in front of my TV in time to catch The Super Bowl.  I've watched all 44 so far and I've got a couple of friends coming over to watch as well.  Who will win?  I don't really have an opinion.  Regardless, I do expect that, as usual, there will be food involved.  :)


Anonymous said...

Did I miss something, or did somebody decide to take aim at trans-folk? To have two offensive sketches like this in a week indicates something is amiss.

Maybe Oliver Stone was right about conspiracy theories....

Anonymous said...

this is akin to Amos 'n Andy