With the purpose of promoting the Wisconsin Trans and Queer People of Color, a summit occurred this past Saturday, Oct. 1 in the Student Union Ballroom. The summit was a twelve-hour program detailing events such as open and closed caucuses, workshops, featured speakers, and more. The planning committee designed it especially to include everyone: trans, queer, different sexualities, and allies.
The program started with a welcoming ceremony, leading directly into closed caucuses separated into different ethnicities. A caucus is a group of people who discuss concerns in a polite discussion, and a closed caucus creates a warm environment to communicate concerns in a way that is understood by others who have faced the same.
After the hour of closed caucuses was the first set of workshops. Led by esteemed presenters, these workshops were designed to help inform, include, and understand the people in the colored trans and queer community, presenting a unique perception that challenges the perception of society.
These workshops include TQPOC (Trans and Queer People of Color) History & Legacies, a historical outlook on the TQPOC community’s achievements and legacies; Healing & Identity Movement, a journey of healing through body awareness and identity; Size Does Matter: Creating Radical Self Love and Body Acceptance, which intersected multiple identities with building bridges between yourself and others; the Chicas Panel, delving into the crosses between Latinx and Gender Identity/Expression of Chicas; and Sacred Bodies, the helpful workshop used for legally changing your name and driver’s license.
Jadé Mora, the presenter for Sacred Bodies, detailed the difficult process of changing your name, including the completion of five forms: a petition for waiver of fees and costs affidavit, an order on the petition for the waiver, a petition for a name change, a notice and order for the name change hearing, and an order for the name change. In Wisconsin, to change your name without the fee waiver would be about $600, and to change your birth certificate, you must have undergone a sex-change surgery. To change your license’s name and gender, you must have a doctor’s affidavit, the court order name change, and an updated driver’s license application.
“There aren’t any states currently where you can self-affirm your own gender,” Mora said. She urged participants to write to our legislation for a change in this superfluous process to make it easier for trans and queer folks to fully embody their true identity.
After the workshops, a lunch exclusive to members of the TQPOC community featured conversation exploring the relationships and connections between their identities and their mixedness. Set into a panel/question format, the lunch created a sense of belonging and intimacy, where concerns could be addressed without fear of judgment.
The second round of workshops proceeded the lunch, including a new one called Deconstructing Gender and Supporting Trans Identities, which explored the guidelines of gender norms and behaviors and simultaneously challenging them.
A last closed caucus session ended the content portion of the summit, splitting into groups of sexualities and trans and queer identities. The blending of “sex” and “gender” in these caucuses challenge a societal distinction between the two words.
“I would strongly urge everyone not to describe ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as two different things,” said Ilona Turner, a worker of the Transgender Law Center. “It is incorrect and harmful to draw a distinction between the two, such as ‘sex’ being physical and real while ‘gender’ describes only the psychological.”
The summit ended with a short closing ceremony, then dinner and a movie. The movie, called Viva, follows a character named Jesus through mapping out an existence as a Havana hairdresser, tending to drag performers of a local night club and dreaming of taking the stage himself. With vivid imagery and intense life moments, the movie illustrates tender acceptance and personal growth, meant to inspire not only members of the TQPOC community but everyone. As exemplified with the movie, the summit taught participants what it meant to have an identity and showed us the obstacles still in the way of that, even on a campus as inclusive as UWM. Everyone should get involved, learning ally strategies or support and understanding, as well as understanding both the TQPOC and LGBTQ+ communities’ goals and beliefs.
“We have a lot of work,” Mora said. The summit showed a great understanding and compassion of the Trans and Queer People of Color community, but it could be more widespread. Getting involved is inclusive to everyone, whether it be learning ally strategies of support and communication, or simply learning the values and goals of both the TQPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
The LGBT resource center, located in the Union, is open to both getting involved and getting informed. The next event scheduled is Gayme Night Oct. 5 at 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., a night of video games and board games in the resource center.