We weren’t even 24 hours past the end of a megasuccessful BTAC 2016 conference when some loud and wrong trans feminine agent provocateur who shall remain nameless attacked the event.
I don’t believe in saying nothing to ignorant trolls, I believe in confronting their idiocy head on because not confronting their ignorance leads to the incorrect assumption in the court of public opinion there is a grain of truth in their loud and wrong assertions.
I get the opportunity to go to many national and regional conferences throughout the year, and the one I look forward to every year ever since I first attended it in 2013 is the Black Trans Advocacy Conference when I was tapped to be its first ever trans feminine keynote speaker.
I have been blessed to watch this conference grow exponentially to the point that it is starting to get the attention it deserves as a major conference and draw interest from international attendees as a result.
BTAC is necessary for the same reasons that the Transsistahs-Transbrothas Conference in Louisville was necessary in 2004-2005. In a LGBT conference world that is overwhelmingly white, grounded in and predominately caters to whiteness, and oriented toward the lesbian and gay end of the TBLGIQ alphabet, we must have spaces for trans persons of color grounded in our culture that celebrate themselves, our trans identities and discuss issues from that perspective.
I can recall being at Southern Comfort in 1999, 2000 and 2004, and you could count the number of Black trans people on two hands. That’s unacceptable in a city like Atlanta that prides itself on being the Black GLBT Mecca and lonely. While I appreciated the opportunity to meet many of the trans leaders at the time, there were still times I needed to talk about Trailblazing Transitioning While Black with others going through what I was experiencing.
Being a Black trans person is a different transition road and set of circumstances to travel to be our authentic selves, and comes with a set of problems that our white trans counterparts in many cases don’t have to contemplate.
When we toss in the issues of Black trans people across the African Diaspora, those issues become even more complex as we American based Black folks now have to expand our horizons beyond our own borders to factor in the issues that affect our African descended trans siblings in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and the African continent.
In addition to having a conference like the Black Trans Advocacy Conference that is positioning itself to be that bridge over the Diaspora, it’s nice to be in a space that celebrates all aspects of your Afrocentric personality and is an unapologetically Black one. It’s one in which intergenerational and intersectional learning takes place not only in our seminars, but in our rooms, the hospitality suites, and when we have lunch or dinner. .
It’s also cathartic and vital that we be able to have family no holds barred conversations in which we don’t have to feel as if we have to censor ourselves because white allies are in the room.
BTAC has the feel of a family reunion because frankly, it IS one. Besides the fact it falls on or close to my birthday, I know it’s going to be one of the few conferences I attend in which my culture is embraced, centered and celebrated (NBJC’s OUT On The Hill is the other one).
I have heard and seen in my last four years people who enter the BTAC host hotel with skepticism, and leave it crying after the closing brunch or upset because they can’t stay for the whole event. It’s one in which I got introduced to many of my Black trans brothers, and it’s one of the few spaces in which I walk around and they spoil me and the other trans sisters rotten. .
BTAC has spawned relationships and now two marriages, and fostered the growth of solid friendships and working relationships. It honors people for their work to advance the rights of our entire community when they have yet to get that recognition from the trans community at large.
And BTAC is a conference that affirms daily that you are loved, worthy of being loved, and have much to contribute to our community and the world.
As Kwame Ture once stated, ‘In order to participate in the greater society, you must first close ranks’ What that means is in order for Black trans people to become a stronger and more potent intersectional partner, we have collective internal community building work we have to do to make us the best people we can be individually and collectively. The Black Trans Advocacy Conference is one of the places where we do that collective community building work, with the idea that it will lead to a better, stronger, more cohesive trans community.
And that’s why BTAC is needed and necessary. . .