I’m now back in the Houston area after spending a few days at this year’s edition of the Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Philadelphia. It was a 29th annual Creating Change that up until about two weeks before it happened, I was seriously thinking about after attending the last three consecutive Creating Change events in Houston, Denver and Chicago and being part of the Host Committee for #CC14 not coming to Philadelphia for #CC17.
Philadelphia also happens to be a city that is near and dear to my heart, because I received my 2006 IFGE Trinity Award here and I’ve been since 2013 in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection for two LGBTMedia events (2013,2015) and two Philly Trans Health Conferences in 2012 and 2016.
The drama filled experience in Chicago along with the jacked up protest of the NBJC Black Institute I called out later (and I’m still pissed about) was part of the reason I was reluctant to come this year.
Because of the Trans United Fund event, the TUF leadership meeting scheduled during #CC17 and being asked by NBJC’s Isaiah Wilson to participate in this year’s The Black Institute, that finally pushed me into the ‘I’m attending it ‘ranks along with TUF Board Chair Hayden Mora telling me my voice, thoughts and attendance were needed and necessary.
On my ATL-PHL flight I ran into Dee Dee Chamblee, who was seated ten rows from me. I stepped off the Delta plane after our 5:35 PM arrival but lost track of her. After collecting my checked bag I ran into a group of students from Portland who were eagerly here for CC17 at the Terminal D SEPTA train platform.
After getting off the train, I immediately headed to the hotel room that Angelica Ross and my Houston homegirl Nikki Loyd were sharing to drop off my bags before heading to the TUF meeting we were having at the host hotel to finalize some last minute planning or the fundraising event at Philadelphia City Hall.
When I walked into that Marriott Downtown meeting room with Angelica and Nikki and saw my trans siblings from around the country and as I found out the world in Mat and Tiana from Zimbabwe, it was a reminder why I come to conferences and events:. I go to see old friends like Danielle King and meet new ones like Daye Pope.
With me now going into my 19th year of award winning advocacy for trans people in addition to being the founding editor of a now 11 year old award winning blog, the days of me walking around any convention space for longer than ten minutes incognito are long gone.
I ran into Sunnivie Brydum and a friend of hers moments after taking that post meeting photo with the TUF peeps, and while trying to get to the DoubleTree to get my bags so I could go check into the Hilton Gardens where I was staying, immediately ran into Cecilia Chung.
After running into her, tried to tip past the bar area where folks were congregated and ran into many friends there like my fellow Texans Omar Narvaez, Ashton Woods and the lovely Geneva Musgrave, and ran into Isaiah at the exit door. I also ran into several students who recognized me from different speeches or who were fans of TransGriot that night and over the next several days.
While I was waiting to sort out a problem with my Hilton Gardens reservation, Louis Mitchell spotted me while walking past the hotel from a late night food run and kept me company until it was resolved.
The love I got enveloped in while walking the CC17 host hotel over those next several days didn’t hurt either, especially in light of the fact that we were literally in the last two days of the Obama presidency and about to see the dawning of a Trump presidency hostile to us.
The Thursday Trans United Fund event at the Philadelphia City Hall on Thursday evening was chock full of symbolism.
I thought about the fact that we were owning our political power as trans people in the city in which the Declaration of Independence was crafted and signed at Independence Hall several blocks away from where our event was taking place with a trans pride flag on the flagpole outside the building.
We were comprised of amazing trailblazing leaders in their own rights like Melissa Sklarz, Sharron Cooks, Danni Askini, Andrea Jenkins, Bamby Salcedo, and Mama Bear DeShanna Neal with her lovely trans feminine daughter Trinity. Some of the brothers were also there in support like Sean Coleman and Rev. Yunus Coldman
It was also great seeing Philadelphia’s LGBT Liaison Nellie Fitzpatrick, Cathy Renna and getting to have all those conversations with the attendees during that fundraising event. It was also wonderful to finally meet and get to talk to Danni Askini in the flesh after years of doing so on FB.
TUF was also holding this event on the last night of the Obama Administration, who will go down in American and TBLGQ history as the best president ever on trans issues.
Since my job during CC14 in Houston was to be co chair of the committee helping put together the People of Color Hospitality suit, I’m always interested in seeing how other Creating Change host cities accomplished the task of setting up their hospitality suites in preparation for the next time Houston gets to host Creating Change.
Once I was done with my portion of the NBJC Black Institute morning programming, I headed to the POC, Bi-Panfluid, Transgender and Elder suites that were located on the sixth floor of the hotel.
In the Bi suite I ran into Stacey Langley, new Bi-Net president Lynette McFadzen (who I met and roomed with during CC15), and other amazing folks in those Thursday and Friday excursions up to the suites.
We aren’t always talking politics in those hospitality suites. The conversations can also be about pop culture discussions to blood family acceptance or lack thereof. Some CC17 attendees are playing cards or board games as they wait for breakfast, lunch or dinner to be delivered to the suites.
And yes, for you CC vets, they are still vegan.
Speaking of dishes, nice segue into moi dishing out in the Transgender Hospitality Suite a trash talking filled dominoes butt kicking to a New Jersey based activist who has promised me he’ll be ready for me when #CC18 roll around.
Good luck with that Kwame. Love ya and enjoyed our conversation, but Mama Moni still has dominoes skills that will be sharpened over the next 11 months.
You’ve been warned BTAC and every other conference I get to attend in 2017. Be afraid.
The Elders suite had a TBLGQ Philadelphia history display set up. I ran into during my visit to check it out Barbara, one of the trans elders I met during my LGBTMedia13 visit to Philly at the John C Anderson LGBT apartment building for low income LGBT seniors.
Barbara was one of the local volunteers staffing it, and it was wonderful reconnecting with her again..
But the best part of any Creating Change event is being able to not only talk to the elders that preceded me in paving the way for my generation of TBLGQ activists, but the young people for who this is their first Creating Change, who see you as their elder, and get the intergenerational conversations going that we need to have happen.
I had an interesting discussion on Friday with one CC17 attendee who let me know she’d been reading TransGriot since she was 12 years old. I had more than a few people stop me in the halls during my time there who recognized me either from the blog, previous events, conferences or panels and tell me how much they loved TransGriot, dropping some knowledge in a panel, or appreciated me doing the necessary work to advance our shared human rights struggle.
Friday morning Rebecca Kling, Brynn Tannehill and I talked to two of Bear Bergman’s students about the trans rights movement and our parts in it. Bear later sent me a message about how excited they were to meet us and went on about it for hours.
I was supposed to leave Saturday, but the fog at PHL airport that hugs the Delaware River killed that and forced me to stay an extra day at Creating Change, something I wasn’t disappointed about. But because of my travel back and forth from the host hotel to the airport, I missed the local Women’s March that some of the CC17 attendees participated in and Sharron spoke at.
I also got to spend some more quality time with my Birmingham based sister Daroneshia Duncan, who graciously let me crash in her hotel room since I’d checked out of mine at the Hilton Gardens earlier that day..
After dinner at Chili’s, swinging by the Boomers Dance with Daroneshia and sitting in the bar area chatting with various people until nearly 2 AM, I reluctantly left the Marriott Downtown host hotel for the last time to get a little sleep for my rebooked 7:35 AM departure back to Houston via the ATL
That meant no Sunday closing plenary or brunch for me this time.
Thanks Philadephia Host Committee for putting together a wonderful event. I’m glad I came. Coming to #CC17 helped me realize once again all the positive reasons why I have loved this conference ever since my first one in Oakland back in 1999.
I’m eagerly anticipating being at the 2018 edition of it in Washington DC. Hopefully by that time CC18 happens I’ll be able to go to the African American History Museum in addition to seeing all of you peeps there again at our TBLGQ family reunion