Friday, Mar. 31, 2023 - 10:09 pm.
I'm so pumped. Last December, the city council opened an office that oversees issues regarding sexual and gender diversity. There are a few people working in that office, one of whom is a guy, Sebastian, that I met at a "It gets better" project stand in uni just a few days after I'd (reluctantly) returned from the UK. He's a trans social worker, and since then we've met at a few events.
So today's Transgender Day of Visibility and the Diversity Office hosted a small seminar in the afternoon. The original schedule fell apart as some speakers couldn't make it, but still there was a a very lively conversation going on between trans people and cis people who work in schools or have trans kids. There were even a few cisgender high school students. I wanted to contribute to the conversation, but I thought this time it was best to just listen and learn.
At the end of the event, I had a juice box that I'd taken from the snack table but didn't open. I gave it to the last speaker, who was a Mapuche trans woman who performed a ballroom number at the end of the event. She came in very late, as she was coming by bus from a rural area in heels (bless her OMG). I had so much respect and tenderness for her, but I could only give her my juice box without a word.
Anyway, at the end of the seminar I went to say goodbye to Sebastian and to thank him for this event (he'd said also how lonely it was for him being the only trans person in the city council). He recognized me. He knew who I was. Not simply because we've talked before, he was more like, oh, yeah, I *know* who you are.
Rewind to the previous Sunday: I was on the newspaper, haha. The local newspaper ran a one-page piece on the film my "lab" was screening in partnership with the uni student film club for Trans Visbility Day. My lab is now me and a few postgrad students (there were FOUR in attendance this week!) and we meet in a room each Tuesday at 3 pm. It still does not officially exist anywhere on paper, but it's on Instagram AND we have a room scheduled for us, so it's more real than it was a year ago.
Anyway, we screened "Boy meets girl", about a trans girl who does much more in the movie than just being trans. As usual, we didn't get more than a handful of people in the audience, but three were older adults: one was a professor with whom I teach one of the PhD courses (who'll retire next year), and two ladies in their 80s. The three of them found out about the screening from the newspaper, which checks out with their demographic. But knowing they came because they wanted to know more about the lives of trans people was moving, and it made the effort worth it.
The students at the film club forwarded us a message today, from someone else in the audience. This person -a student- said they were really grateful for this screening, because it showed a trans girl played by a trans actress who was living a full life and was not ashamed of her body. That having shown this movie was really important and was much appreciated. The message made me cry. I chose that movie for those exact same reasons, and it feels amazing that they did not go unnoticed, even if only 11 people attended.
Anyway, I don't know if that's why Sebastian said he knew me. Maybe he didn't see the newspaper piece. It could be he remembers me, or because of the Instagram account, which has grown a lot thanks to T., my ride-or-die research assistant. But as we spoke, we sort of agreed to work together on the undergrad course I'll be teaching next semester on gender and sexual diversity. He wants to get back into the academia circuit and I want academia to focus on issues that are relevant to the territory where I live. I'm very excited to start planning this course.
I left the city council building feeling so much queer joy inside of me. I didn't think I'd find a space like that one here, after having experienced queer community in Sheffield but not quite knowing how to fit in it or how to contribute to it. This ain't Sheffield, but I feel useful here. And to top it all off, my Uber driver taking me home was an older lady (in her 60s, 70s?) who was listening to Beyoncé. I loved her so much.
MORE QUEER CONTENT: This week I taught two courses. It was Developmental Psychology at both under- and master's level. I gave the same lecture to both courses because there's no talk about gender and sexuality in either program, so they were both in sore need of a crash course. I also felt very appreciated by the students, particularly the undergrad ones, who tend to be more critical of this missing piece in the Psych curriculum.
Aaand... I STARTED MY SIGN LANGUAGE COURSE! It's two nights a week, and I'm so excited. I now know the Chilean sign alphabet and I'm learning a few words/symbols. I can say "pizza" and "dogs" in sign language, that's relevant to me.
So, overall, I feel so full and happy. My days are very demanding now, but I end up with a sort of tiredness that also feels very rewarding and not.. bad? I remember feeling a certain type of exhaustion after work that was killer. I'm now doing what I love, and I'm making a difference, and I'm learning things, and I'm finding community.