SCC Failure

Posted by – October 8, 2008

A recent blog post written by someone who attended SCC reminds me, again, that whoever is in charge of partners’ events at SCC isn’t doing their job.

The only thing that I attended that did not live up to my expectations was the Comfort Zone, a group for SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies) of MTF trangender women. I qualified for the group as a wife of a MTF. The group was predominately made up of wives of cross dressers with about 4 of us being partners or wives of transgender people. It appears we all left before the meeting was over. The next morning Sarah and met two young women who had not been eligible for the group since their partners were FTM. They were in happy relationships. We exchanged email address and may try to put something on the internet for happy partners and wives of trans people.

This really thrills me. Two years ago a partner of an FTM was told she wasn’t welcome because she identified as lesbian, & this year they just don’t allow partners of FTMs into the partner support group.

It’s not hard to run an inclusive partner group. I’ve done it tons of times. I offer every year. I don’t need to get paid, just to have my costs covered. I would be willing to go down there to train some locals as to how to be inclusive of all partners.

Whoever is doing this workshop needs to be asked not to do it. The isolation most partners experience is quite enough, but isolating them further – at a trans conference! – is entirely unacceptable.

Please, SCC organizers, please. You have no idea what a knife in the heart it is, as a partner, to get to a conference and feel like no one bothered to care that you have a sense of community, too.

8 Comments on SCC Failure

  1. Back when I lived in Atlanta, I saw that type of non-inclusiveness quite a bit, both at SCC and in local support groups. As a minister friend of mine says, “We’re all for diversity until we meet someone that’s truly diverse.”

    It’s funny that you mention the phrase “a sense of community”. That’s the title of my debut novel, which I am currently submitting to literary agents.

  2. divadarya says:

    I’ll come out and say it; the whole trans-convention model is broken and mired in old bad habits. I must say that participating in the MHB forum has opened me up and made me much more aware of my own insensitivities to my partner, so I wish you well on creating a new model for all Conventions that is FTM/Lesbian/gay/queer-inclusive.

  3. jacbar says:

    This was my third year at SCC as a queer woman partner to a trans guy. The first, there was nothing for me. (And the partner who says she wasn’t welcomed, well, that was all on her. There were other lesbian partners of FTMs, including several this year. I was there as she herself entered the room looking for a fight. She never got a fight out of us, but insisted she did all the same.) The second year, I led a partners’ workshop that was fairly successful. This year, a few of partners of FTMs got together with a great idea. Without explaining all the drama, suffice it to say that the inclusive space we had envisioned became the exclusive Comfort Zone.

    On Friday and Saturday, a few of us ended up creating an ad hoc guerilla-style workshop that most of us went into still holding on to the anxiety and stress of having been shut out in the first place. Regardless, I was proud of us for insisting on space, and the Board was receptive to our day-of demands. The group ended up being partners of FTMs and one male partner of an MTF. We’ve since thrown together a listserv, and I’m hoping like hell that I’m not the only one trying to make this happen for next year. By the way, the numbers of partners active in the Comfort Zone was approximately equal to the number of partners in the ad-hoc session. We are not outnumbered, just segmented.

    I don’t especially appreciate the assumption that the “locals” are “untrained.” SCC is an institution that resists change, and some of us have been fighting the uphill battle to create it. We need the support of others and of our trans partners, that’s for sure, but it’s not for lack of “training” or for lack of trying.

    I should note that Jessica Pettitt did a great workshop about her experience being a partner. I wasn’t able to go to it, but I’ve heard great things from others (including my partner).

  4. helenboyd says:

    jac

    the information i had was that this exclusive partners’ workshop was run by a local therapist/SW (who is or was a het partner of an MTF, thus, only comfortable running a group for other partners like her). since i don’t have her name, & i don’t know who she is, i defaulted to “locals” being “untrained” since i’ve been told she was local, & i see her as untrained (or at the very least, unsuccesful) in running an inclusive partners’ group.

    otherwise, i’m glad to hear you made space! i don’t need to be there; i just like being able to yell about stuff because occasionally people listen.

    so no insult intended. just wanted to loan some support, so that you all who attend SCC (regularly or not) can get the kind of support you deserve.

    thanks for posting.

  5. helenboyd says:

    ps. every time i talk to partners who go to SCC, they tell me they’ve been bugging the powers that be to be more conscious of the issue. & year after year i’m told someone is listening, but obviously, they’re not implementing.

    SCC organizers, can you hear us? **there’s a problem with partner support at SCC.**

  6. jacbar says:

    I think I know the therapist you’re talking about, and my understanding is that she isn’t actually a partner at all, but she works with a lot of wives of cross dressers.

    I’m really glad to have your support, and I appreciate that I’m not the only one yelling. :) I’ve been pretty heavily involved with SCC since my first year, and having others around who *get* how important this is are invaluable.

    Next year, we’ll find a way to get you here.

  7. Jude says:

    The sad fact is that most of the traditional trans conferences exist to give well-to-do crossdressers a safe place to dress and party (hence the high end hotels, the pricey banquets, the bar, etc.) and have evolved as a meeting place for even more well off medical providers to network with potential clients (those with the money to afford their services).

    If there are some enlightened sorts on the board of directors or organizing committee, there is room made at the table for others via stipends, subsidies, scholarships. But I imagine it’s a perennial battle for inclusivity that suffers setbacks whenever a particular cheerleader (for FTMs, for SOs, for POC, etc.) gets fed up (or driven out) and walks away, or if the event starts to lose money.

    I’m not saying they are bad things, I’ve had a good time at conferences in the past and I will in future – but I’m all for throwing ones energy into alternate spaces (without the booze and the prom gowns and the expensive hotel rooms) if one wishes to find a seat at the table instead of being tossed scraps at the whim of the organizing committee.

  8. jennag says:

    Check out What is going on at First Event:
    http://tcne.org/FirstEvent/FirstEvent_PIP.html
    (shameless plug)

    They (we) are certainly trying to create accepting spaces open to all.

    I think Jude is partially right, those reasons end up making up a good part of attendees at trans conferences, but I also feel there are lots of folks who come and take advantage of the many seminars that are offered.

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