So, it is Sunday and I am awake early, of course, reclining in the bottom bunk of an IKEA bunkbed at the American Hotel in the International District, Seattle. Day 3 of the Gender Odyssey Family Conference. I know it has been a good while since I have posted, but largely that has been due to the fact that my family has been entrenched in moving for a month with little to no internet access at home. My apologies.
Meanwhile, I just wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on this amazing experience. The conference started out a little bumpy, my first speaker did not show, but the 8 or so other participants turned our chairs in a circle and began to share a little of what work we do, and struggles we have had both as individuals and/or as parents. Many of the attendees on the family side of the conference are there because they are parents of a gender non-conforming child. Some are there as providers. Some are there because they identify as gender non-conforming. There is a Gender Odyssey day camp for kids to attend with their parents, so there is a joyful continuous crashing/yelling/laughing sound that trickles into each of the sessions. There is also a teen track where gender non-conforming youth can come together and share their stories, discover a community, and go shopping. On the other side of the conference is the adult track, where gender variant, gender queer, transgender folks and their partners can get together for some amazing sessions as well.
It is awesome.
Granted, as a cis-female, I am remarking on this conference from the perspective and lens of an ally, and let me tell you, we allies have a lot of work to do – both within ourselves and within our communities. However, I am also here as a parent, and that particular experience has by far been the most touching, most eye-opening, and most comforting.
As I lay here in this room, readying myself for another full conference day, I am finding it hard to summarize my experience so far. Yet, I must mention how astounded I am by the teens! They are awesome, inspiring, brilliant, articulate, tender, funny, bright, and honest. Oh, and fucking brave. The most touching moment of this conference so far was witnessing the teen panel in the final session of the Saturday portion of the conference. The humor, honesty, encouragement, tenderness, sadness, hopefulness, and courage that was displayed had the whole room weeping. I am so honored to have witnessed these teens and oh so honored to have had the chance to talk with a few of them as well. A HUGE shout-out! to these folks. Thanks for being so…well…you.