Last night we attended the screening of Boy I Am. In the words of IMDB:
Boy I Am is a feature-length documentary that begins to break down that barrier and promote dialogue about trans issues through a look at the experiences of three young transitioning FTMs in New York City–Nicco, Norie and Keegan–as they go through major junctures in their transitions, as well as through the voices of lesbians, activists and theorists who raise and address the questions that many people have but few openly discuss.
The screening was followed by a panel discussion. The discussion was lead by Lynn McDonald, James and an academic that I won’t name.
Lynn McDonald from the Diversity Resource Unit of the Calgary Police spoke about the policy that they were working on to support officers who decided to transition. She also spoke about the policies that are being created for police officers who arrest transgendered people.
It was really interesting to learn that the Calgary Police has the most extensive policies about the LGBT community in Canada. It’s miraculous when you consider that the political climate in Alberta is hostile to the LGBT community (the province threatened to withhold same sex marriage and last year eliminated funding for bottom surgery for transgendered men)
James from Misc Youth Network spoke about his experiences of being transgendered openly and honestly. I was definitely left with much food for thought (which I won’t share because it’s still half formed lumps of clay in my mind at this point) and the desire to learn more about the history of the transgendered movement and how to be a better ally.
However, I was not impressed with the academic (I believe that she was straight) who was invited to the panel. She rarely contributed to the very interesting conversation. Her sole memorable contribution was that (to paraphrase) we should not worry about labels such as queer, gay, lesbian or transgender because we are all just people.
I believe that point of view is naive (at its best) and disempowering (at its worst).
When I first came out, I naively believed that nothing in my life would change.
However, my family and friends attitudes towards and interactions with me did change. I realised that I might not directly experience homophobia (through the inability to find housing, a job or. However, I experienced it through the legal system (the inability to marry Wife in Australia, the inability to have my marriage recognised in Australia). Plus I have experienced its insidious cousin heteronormativity more times than I would like.
Society does not view me as “just a person.” So people who say that labels are not important (that we are all “just people”) are effectively denying my experience.
Overall the panel was informative, humorous and honest. I definitely feel that I learned a lot! FairyTales is an amazing festival and I’m so glad that they facilitated this screening and panel and I’m really glad that Lynn and James spoke.