Earlier this month, I went to a gender conference, and it was OK.
The best part was the keynote, DarkMatter—a trans, South Asian performance/activist duo—who did a set at the close of the day that left us all awkwardly moaning for more. They tore apart Dan Savage and marriage equality and Harry Potter's white tears, and Alok's dress was covered in eyeballs!
eye love the movement! DarkMatter tonight at the TIC conference in burlington. xx pic.twitter.com/aVTVUPMLAK
— DarkMatter (@DarkMatterRage) November 1, 2014
The other best part was something I was afraid might be the worst part. I almost didn't go to the transmasculine caucus. I usually don't try to be around a bunch of other transmasculine people because...well...transmasc people say some entitled, misogynist, self-involved shit. Just like cis men! (Gasp.) But a friend who I was at the conference with reminded me that we have a responsibility to be in those spaces and interrupt the sense of entitlement that creeps in with masculine privilege, so we went.
And right away my angst melted a little because there were so many earnest-looking babies in the room. The conversation did, inevitably, meander into some "our monolithic trans male [sic] experience is way unique and important" territory, but there were quite a few folks in attendance who were able to bring some other perspectives. And then a thing happened where I realized I just rode in a car 150 miles one way to find out my dear friend and close neighbor is the smartest person ever.
One person was talking about being gendered by strangers on the street and hearing "ma'am" or "sir" and how the experience of being read consistently as male just makes things a lot quieter for him. And I'm all nodding and imagining how nice that would be, and then my friend goes, "And what do we do with that quiet?"
Glitter bombs have been going off in my head ever since, about the value (for me) of discomfort, of tension, of noise, the purpose that not passing can serve. For some, passing is a choice, and for some it is not, and for some it's a privilege, and sometimes that quiet can serve us well, and sometimes I think it's the noise that's going to ever change anything, if we can listen to it instead of run from it.
Poem of Gratitude for Noisy Times
Let me catch my breath,
Figure some shit out, and then
Come on, bring the noise.