Monday, November 16, 2015

“Re-membering the Transgender Community” on November 21st

"Are you, are you coming to the tree, 
wear a necklace of hope, 
side by side with me?"

The Hanging Tree
Suzanne Collins

A Transform Talk Workshop with Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski

1:00Pm November 21st, 2015
at the Immanuel Congregational Church
10 Woodland St
Hartford, CT 06105

Can you remember Yaz'min Shansez? Yaz'min was a thirty-one years old trans woman of color who lived in Myers, Florida. If you were walking down a [this] particular alley on June 19th, you would have seen her body laying behind a garbage bin, filling the private drive with the smell of burning flesh. If you were there a little earlier, you would have seen her body being set on fire. Can you re-member that? Can you bring back a member of the trans community? Are you, are you going stand in her place?

Can you remember Betty Skinner? Betty was a fifty-two year old disabled trans woman, confined to a senior assisted living complex in Cleveland, where she was found dead. Unable to leave her bed during the attack, Betty's life ended when her head was bashed in. Controlled, bound, and alone, no one was there to help Betty nor to identify her murderers. The police have no suspects. Can you re-member what so many turned their back on? Can you re-collect the divided and secluded members of the trans community?

The month of November has been marked as Transgender History Month, with Nov. 20th set as a Transgender Remembrance Day. Remembering is not merely about a special feeling or thought. It is about re-collecting fragments of a divided and erased history. Yet how do we re-write a history that has largely be left out of the headlines, a history that has not been written? It is about re-membering a community that is decimated on a daily basis. Yet how do we resurrect those denied a livable life? Many of these wounds will never heal. The best alternative we have may be to help them scar. We can do this by being the voice of the forgotten and being the bodies of the dismembered. We can remember the transgender community by becoming active members of it. This does not necessarily mean transforming ones body or gender presentation, but it does mean changing one's relations and politics. It means not viewing the oppression and violence as something that happens to "them" but as the potential for power and resistance that can happen through "us" if we share our pain and our life, our losses and our gifts.

This year, all are invited to an hour and a half Transform Talk Workshop on “Re-membering the Transgender Community,” run by Ph.D. Candidate Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski, a writer and scholar of transgender history and theology Together we will share stories, remember erased histories, hear the voices of those we’ve lost, and together affirm the dignity of all lives, but especially those whose dignity and lives have been taken. While they were alive, their identities and stories were not heard. In death, we are the caretakers of their afterlives in this world and have this chance to give them the audience that they were denied in life.


A breakdown of the  schedule:

  • 20 Min: Introduction to Transgender Terminology and "Draw Your Gender" Exercise
  • 30 Min: Talk on Re-Membering Transgender w/Writings from Passed Away Trans Persons
  • 20 Min: Questions and Group Sharing
  • 10 Min: "You Can Be Me When I'm Gone" Name-Tag Exercise*
  • 10 Min: "TransformWords" (ex. TransformChurch, TransformSchool, etc.) Prayer/Words of Affirmation.

(*Participants are invited to take home the name-tag of the deceased transgender person along with the small summary sheet with some biographical information on the person)


Transform Talks:
Workshops for staff & communities on gender & disability

In recent years, I've consulted for acting troupes, businesses, churches, and educators on how to build more accessible, welcoming, and critical spaces for a wider diversity of persons. I have collected and expanded this material into workshops on gender, sexuality, and disability. The new program is geared to a variety of communities and workplaces. These, "Transform Talks" are available on different levels to suit a host of particular needs. Short, 1-2 hour bootcamps will help orient staff, faculty, and minsters on (1) key language, (2) best practices, and (3) context and background in targeted communities. Longer day to weekend long seminars will also be available where team members can become better oriented and trained in diversity, including (1) getting to know important stories and histories, (2) workshopping situations, and (3) transforming social and physical spaces to be safe and fruitful for a wider range of lives.

Prices vary depending on needs and duration. 
Contact for more information.

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