A couple of weeks ago, the National Queer Arts Festival hosted an event called “Girl Talk: A Cis & Trans Woman Dialogue.” Several queer cis and trans women spoke about their interactions, shared community, relationships, commonalities and conflicts.
I’ve been to plenty of queer speaking events and this one stands out both in its consistently high quality and its subject matter. I’ve been to events where trans women have spoken and some spoke of their sometimes difficult relationships with the larger queer women’s community. The most famous conflict between trans women and the larger queer women’s community is the issue of trans exclusion from many “women only” spaces.
As far as I know (and I think I would) this is the first time a group of queer cis and trans women have gotten together for the express purpose of speaking about our shared experience publicly. Listening to the show, I was struck by how obvious and straightforward much of it seemed. I don’t mean that in a belittling way, but rather I think it is a testament to the brilliance of the women speaking. For those of you with little context for this, it might seem like you’re hearing just another group of women tell what they have to tell about themselves and the world around them. That’s exactly right, but at the same time, until this night these thoughts had very little public airing. These things were mostly spoken softly between friends.
Gina and Julia (details below) gave the world something very special by curating this show. The .mp3 of the whole event is here.
The second to last speaker is Dorian Katz, my girlfriend. I am the Marlene she is talking about. While she is speaking, she is showing slides of her paintings. Here is a gallery of the images she showed while speaking.
Any one of these women’s opinions or work would be enough to be impressed by. Having them all in one place is shockingly good. This event is what originally sparked my recent post about holding back.
Ryka Aoki de la Cruz is all over the place doing everything. I’d swear she never sat down if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. She was recently honored by the California State Senate for her “extraordinary commitment to free speech and artistic expression, as well as the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.”
Dorian Katz makes me smile a lot and paints and draws and writes and makes mischief. Her artwork appears in The Human Pony and she will have illustrations and an essay in Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, which will be out in October.
Julia Serano is the kind of smart that just makes you say “Damn!” If I say more nice things about her on this blog, I’m going to start sounding like she’s paying me.
Elena Rose writes online here as “little light,” serves on the advisory board of the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, and is a charter member of the Speak! Radical Women of Color Media Collective. Her writing makes me teary on a regular basis.
I was in the back listening to this event (apparently quietly enough so that Marlene and Dorian didn’t even know I was there). I want to second Marlene’s recommendation of the whole thing, and especially to say that Ryka Aoki de la Cruz and Rose Sims, neither of whose work I was aware of before that night, blew me completely away. So did Gina, Julia, Nomy, and Dorian, but I expected those to be fantastic. Not to mention the other people whose work I didn’t know, who were also extraordinary. My only disappointment was that I wished the curators hadn’t called it a “dialogue,” because that left me expecting more interaction. What I got instead was wonderful, however.