This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to Western Massachusetts to the Transcending Boundaries Conference (also known as TBC) in Springfield, Ma. The conference, which attracted over 300 attendees, a 25% increase from last year, attracts members of the kink, poly, and GLBTQA community from across the country. The conference which covers various topics and encourages thinking "beyond binary", the main message this year's conference, has been in existence since 2001 and put on by Transcending Boundaries Inc. On top of a vast selection of workshops and panels the conference also included workshops and a keynote by Kate Bornstein, a leader and game changer in the GLBTQ community, and an idol in many groups as well as an educator and speaker on gender binaries.
This year's TBC spanned through three days of workshops from Friday November 11th at 11 am where there was Veterans Day celebration, a nice reminder that DADT has been demolished and really we are all in it together, through Sunday November 13th with closing ceremonies in the late afternoon. Kate Bornstein reminded community members during workshops, panels, and her Keynote that there are many more community members that are not as heard as others including members who are asexual, sex professionals, cross dressers, and intersex. Coming from a background where she has questioned gender, sexuality, spirituality, and binaries she continually paved the way during the weekend to not only question our world but to embrace who we are and reach out. She entertained not only during the Keynote where she shared her theories on binaries and post-modern theory but welcomed questions from teens and young adults during her Auntie Kate workshop. As always reminding ourselves to make life worth living and "don't be mean" while doing so.
Empowerment, which is the main goal of the conference, came in many different forms. Through facilitating and presenting on topics that include on what type of leader are you, how to facilitate a group, and even growing up queer members of the community learned how to communicate with peers, parents, and state leaders on how to improve resources and support for rights of individualities. We were reminded of the pending the Transgender Equal Rights bill that was passed this past Wednesday in Massachusetts. Residents of the state was encouraged to contact their representatives, heard from community members who were introducing new groups into the community, and also reminded in a very peaceful interfaith ceremony on Sunday morning that spirituality is for anyone.
Although state and federal laws have made it possible for community members who identify beyond binary to live in some harmony in the binary world this weekend gave a chance to members to be with other who understands, first hand, and to feel safe to be themselves without concern of discrimination. Coming from a place where although my binary limitations do not threaten my job status or living situation the ability to see friends, new and old, in a setting that does not require me to distance myself is a wonderful experience. It is no wonder why people continually keep coming back as a way to reconnect through not only classes meet and greets, literary discussions, a community luncheon on Saturday, and other evening events.
A trip to transcending boundaries, something that rarely happens in a heterosexual based society, is a way to push the envelope. Built on a growing community there is something for everyone who has ever been viewed as "different". Mixed in between labels, identities, and different sub-sets there is one message that was made clear throughout the discussions at this past gender conference- if you're here you are in my corner, and we welcome your individuality.
I am not affiliated with Transcending Boundaries Conference. For more information on how to get involved with Transcending Boundaries Conference please contact firstname.lastname@example.org geographic location is not a limitation on being involved.