I had the privilege and the pleasure of attending the 6th Transgender European Council at MIT in Bologna from 2nd – 5th June as a full scholarship recipient representing Non-Binary+ Northern Ireland.
The European Transgender Council is the largest gathering of political transgender activists in Europe. With about 200 delegates, first class key note speakers and panelists, workshops and a diverse cultural program the Council is a forum setting the agenda for transgender politics in Europe.
As well as meeting many incredible trans & intersex activists from around Europe, I also attended several workshops, panels and an open exchange that were enlightening and educational as well as extremely thought provoking.
There were so many incredible workshops, with up to 8 options for each workshop slot. I would have loved to have attended workshops that covered areas that I’m unfamiliar with such as sex worker inclusion, HIV positivity, trans people in prison, and healthcare/welfare system barriers to trans people. However, I decided to focus on workshops that would directly impact my work with Non-Binary+ NI and allow me to build on my existing skills, so the workshops I attended were:
- Lights, camera, activism! Capacity building through trans* film & community cultural events
- Non-binary people in Europe: Situation and perspectives
- The secret is people – providing all-inclusive trans support in times of scarce resources
- Body and Identity: being proud of our bodies, an experience
I also attended all the panels, which included:
- Have your say! Open exchange session
- The ICD is making me sick! Putting an end to forced mental health diagnoses for trans people
- More than just tokenism? Intersectionality and the trans movement(s)
The main message that I took away from the Council was that we all have to work harder to put intersectionality at the core of our trans and intersex activism. Whether it’s race, religion, mental health, body image, sex work, (dis)ability, citizenship/refugee status, class or culture, we are all more than just our trans-ness or intersexuality. Having a white, western, middle-class, university-educated -centric approach excludes members of our community over and over again and we need to make sure that the diversity within our community is not just represented but included and centralised in our activism.
I also learned a lot about drawing on the community around us to organise events and increase awareness of the trans community as a whole. I’m hoping to use what I learned over the coming year to organise non-binary specific events as well as fundraise for Non-Binary+ NI so that we have some resources available to our members for whatever they wish to put it towards!
I’ll leave you with a picture of this awesome gender neutral toilet sign – it made my heart sing every time I went to pee!