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Breaking the Silence – and 80’s Day

Well, we’re here!  The sixteenth annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan is tomorrow!  There is still time to register – though not much.  So if you haven’t done so, get’r done!  There really is no time left.  Get your registration done tonight!  All the details are here:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.php

And because you asked for it, I’ll be doing my session on understanding sex, gender, and orientation TWICE.  That means you’ve got an extra opportunity to get in on this discussion if you missed it last year.  And even if you did get in last year, because I conduct it as a discussion, it will never be the same as where we go is truly directed by YOU.

Okay…  now for a few fun pictures.  😉

It was 80’s day at Kid kid’s school today.  Normally I’m all for spirit days and getting dressed up.  But an 80’s day?  Two thirds of everything that the cool kids are wearing these days are totally 80’s inspired – which means every day is 80’s day.  Seriously, every item the girl wore was out of her usual wardrobe.

LOL

That said…  the 80’s were about excess…  so we loaded on the bangles, we loaded on the belts, we loaded on the hair spray…  and we added slouch socks – because that’s one style that didn’t make it back.  And because it’s Thursday, that meant that I had to get dressed up too, after all I couldn’t spend the afternoon at school and NOT take part in 80’s day.  LOL  So I found the perfect jacket (and stuffed socks under my bra straps to mimic shoulder pads), pulled on some black leggings, a gold lamé skirt, and again with the slouch socks.  Then we did our hair and make-up… everything in excess!  It was great.  😀

Breaking the Silence – 2013

This year marks the 16th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan, and I am (again) proud to be a member of the board working very hard to bring it to you.  This year we are focusing on the idea of finding justice and equality on and off the playing field.

As we all know, the locker room has long been a place of dread for our youth, and that doesn’t always end with high school graduation.  Join us on March 22nd and 23rd and we attempt to throw open the doors, and let a little light, and some fresh air into those dark spaces.  Our topic this year?  Clearing it Out! Removing Homophobia from the Locker Room and Beyond.

You can learn a little more at our facebook event page or at our website!  Hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/453413428064685/?

http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

 

…and yes, for those of you who specifically wrote on your evaluations that you’d have liked to have heard a little more from me during last years conference, this year I’ll be offering two sessions.  I do have to admit, I loved the one comment that was written in that simply stated that next year they’d like to see “More Tobi”.  😉

Breaking the Silence is Fast Approaching

Though our sky was dark and dreary for much of the day today, my heart was happy as I look forward.  We are coming into crunch time for planning this years Breaking the Silence conference.  This conference is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I am so blessed to be on the board.  And while our key theme this year is a sporting one (focusing on issues in the locker room and beyond) it will deal with the same truths we all care so much about, bullying and living as our authentic selves.  I’m looking forward to another highly successful conference this March.

The website still contains information from 2012, but it should be updated shortly with information on our keynote and registration for 2013:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face...

Things are looking up! 🙂 The view from my front walk.

And join me tomorrow as we take a look at my “daily routine” in another exciting photo a day challenge post:

photo a day challenge for january

Remember Me???

Hey!  Remember me?

Yeah, it’s been a while.  I know.  Things have been a little crazy hectic here.  But we finally got everything moved out of the old house and into our new home (and the garage and shed).  No, we aren’t actually unpacked yet…  but I’m making slow progress.

We have our computer/crafting nook set up.  Which, let’s face it, is of prime importance in this family – and I’d suspect many more others than will admit to it.  The girl has already been busy at work both on the computer and sitting at her own little craft station, making all sorts of things.

The girl’s bedroom is MOSTLY set up.  For now her mattress is on the floor and she does have some boxes still that need unpacking.  She has usable space though, and her clothes are all accessible in her closet.  So I’m happy with where we’re at there (for now).

We moved in our little antique “three bears” kitchen table and chairs yesterday so finally got to use them.  If you remember way back when, I blogged about them when we first bought them.  🙂  They’re super cute, but I’ll be honest…  while their style fit in perfectly at our old place?  They don’t match quite as well here.  So I’m open for suggestions on how to paint/stain/refinish them to help them blend a little better in a European kitchen.

Our bedroom is partially put together.  Still a long way to go in here…  but we have a bed, a closet, and a tv (as well as a butt load of boxes).  I know it will come together yet, but yeah.  Our room isn’t exactly the priority.

The bathroom requires some work…  new tub, new vanity, new counter top, new light fixture(s), new floor.  Honestly?  I think the only things I’m okay with keeping are the toilet and the sink.  So we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us in there.

So yeah…  exhausted.  But I am slowly putting things together.

Damon had taken the last two weeks off to help pack up the old place, move, and get started on the unpacking.  Today was his first day back at work.  It feels kinda odd not having him around.  I’d gotten used to it.

Today was also the first day I used my new key fob for our alarm system.  I’ve never had an alarm system, so it does take some getting used to.  Gotta get in the habit of pushing those buttons when I’m supposed to.  LOL

Today the girl had her school photo retakes too.  And yes, I’m sure this one will turn out MUCH better.  She was just too darn busy playing with her friends in line to want to bother with the picture last time.  Where today it was just her in the room, so it went much easier.

Further, today marks the International Day of Remembrance.  A couple years ago I had organized a candlelight vigil down at the memorial bandshell beside the North Saskatchewan River.  This year I’ll mark it quietly at home with my family.  And I do ask that those of you who aren’t doing something en mass do the same.  Just take a moment to remember all those amazing people who lost their lives simply for having the courage to live authentically.  It is simply not right that so very many *trans women and men are murdered EVERY YEAR for being themselves.  It is so beyond a time for change.  Some Women have penises, and some Men have a vagina – get over it.  People should not have to die because they don’t fit into some other persons idea of what “man” or “woman” means.  My *trans sisters and brothers are incredible, strong, brave, compassionate individuals and they should not have to fear for their safety every time they leave their homes.  So yes, if you do nothing else, take a few minutes out of your day to remember the many, many men and women who have been brutally murdered for the crime of being who they genuinely are.

Being a Unicorn – Living Authentically

To be your true, authentic self in a world that rejects even the possibility of that self, is a very brave thing.  Yet there are more and more people who are doing just that.  And more astoundingly?  There are more and more young people embracing themselves and refusing to live a life that doesn’t feel right, refusing to live the lie that their parents, doctor/midwife, and society has insisted they live.

I can’t even imagine the bravery of these young Transgender individuals.  Knowing that they don’t fit into their assigned gender, and refusing to be forced to live according to some standard that insists they are something other than what they feel – what they KNOW to be true.  That’s pretty freakin’ huge.

I have so much respect and love for the two individuals who have come out to me recently as being Trans.  For such young people, to have such a deep understanding of themselves, and to know what they need to do to make things right?  It’s an amazing thing.

Far too many people (both young and old) find it easier to live, trapped in societies view of what they should be, then to make the changes required to live authentically.  So when individuals who are half my age know what they need to do to make their world work for them?  And are willing to commit to making those changes happen?  They’ve earned themselves a wealth of respect in my eyes (of course, these two people already had both my respect and love… ).

So here’s to all those who haven’t gotten there yet, to all those still struggling within themselves, living within societies view of who they should be:  Here’s to finding inner strength, to finding love within yourself, and once you have those things to finding the support you need.  Here’s to being who you really are!  I believe you can get there.

Rainbows and unicorns my friends.  I wish you rainbows and unicorns!

 

Happy PRIDE Week Saskatoon!

Welcome to the 20th anniversary of Pride week in Saskatoon!  Yep.  20 years of Pride.  It’s a pretty amazing thing.

I’ve only been attending for five or six years now…  maybe seven.  But even in that short a time, the leaps and bounds taken have been amazing.  I remember it only being a handful of people out, but we are now seeing thousands of people every year – and the number is growing exponentially every year.  It really is an amazing thing!

So, here’s a brief run down on a few of my favourite Pride events:

Picnic in the Park (formerly known as Family Day) – Sunday June 10th, 11:00 till 4:00 @ Kinsmen Park.  Burgers and hotdogs available for $2, pop for $1.  There are always lots of fun games for the kids, as well as face painting.  And this year there will also be a softball game for the “grownups”.  Bring a blanket, or just hang out on the grass.  🙂

Welcome to the Gaybourhood – Wednesday June 13th, 12:00 till 3:00 on 21st Street West between Ave C and D.  Free Burgers and hotdogs.  Free live music and performance art.  This one is always a lot of fun – and I’ve been there every year since it’s first.  Is this three or four now?  LOL  I can’t remember.

Mosaic Art & Fashion Show – Wednesday June 13th, 7:00 until midnight @ the Albert Community Center, 610 Clarence Ave S.  Tickets are $15 at the door.  This will actually be the first year I’ve attended this show.  I’ve always wanted to, but the timing just never worked out for me before.  And even better?  I’ll actually be debuting several pieces from my Power of SHe project at the show.  So you’ll definitely want to come out for this one.  Lots of great art will be available for purchase (including mine).

Pride Parade and Community Fair – Saturday June 16th, 12:00 till 7:00 @ Victoria Park.  The parade starts at 1:00 and the entertainment on the free stage will be starting up at about 2:15.  Beer gardens, lots of vendors (both food and awesome wares), some fabulous community and non-profit groups will be there with info…  It’s always an amazing time.  So come on out!  As this years Pride theme says, “OUT is IN!”

There are lots more events as well – these are just my personal “must attends”.  You can get all the details at http://www.saskatoonpride.ca/.  And remember:  You don’t have to identify as a member of the acronym community to attend.  Allies are HUGELY important, and everyone is welcome!

 

OUT is IN - Saskatoon's 2012 Pride Week

 

A2Z – Removing Stigma while Reintegrating Socially

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Removing Stigma while Reintegrating Socially

So yeah…  it’s Friday, and here I am… blogging.  I know, I know.  I don’t blog on Fridays.  But I’m breaking my rule tonight with a double letter post.  That’s right, here we are with R and S…  and all so that T will fall on the 21st.  LMAO  Not sure why that’s important?  Well, just make sure you come back tomorrow.  😉  Now, onto Removing Stigma while Reintegrating Socially!

I’ll admit, I’ve never had to come out to my family and friends as being a different sex or gender than I was assigned with at birth.  For that?  I feel very blessed.  I can only imagine how difficult it would be, and how brave you would have to be.  Coming out to yourself, and finding who you are when it doesn’t match who you’ve been told you are takes courage, but then going even further and coming out to everyone who knew the OLD you?  That takes big freakin’ brass balls.  And I have SOOO much respect and admiration for all of my Trans brothers and sisters.  It’s hard enough to live authentically in our world, but to live authentically when you face that type of obstacle?  It takes someone who is amazing: amazing, incredible, and fierce!

After all that?  Well, the good news?  Stigma just falls away when you get to that point.  When you are ready to take your life back and live for YOURSELF?  Your TRUE self?  Then anyone who matters will be so in awe of everything you went through to get there that the only thing there will be LOADS of freakin’ respect.

No, that doesn’t mean it will be all roses.  There are going to be asses in your life that will make things hard, and they may even make you question everything you’ve lived through up until that point…  but cling to the fact that you are amazing, and that you DESERVE to be yourself.  You have a right to live the truth, to be who you are, and to do so surrounded by people who get just how long of a journey authenticity can be.  So forget the h8rs, you don’t need them, and be gentle with those who are trying (but may occasionally misuse a pronoun or old name) they’re worth the reminders.  It won’t be easy, but once you get there it is SOOO worth it.

Nothing but love!

And know you aren’t alone.  If you are in Saskatchewan, check out TransSask at http://www.transsask.org/ and if not, check out some of the resources listed in my A2Z Community post.  Building a community of people who love and support you is one of the best things you can do for yourself!

A2Z – Family

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Family

One of the most difficult things in the world is coming out to our families.  There is so much emotion wrapped up there, that it can be hard to separate our own fears from reality.  And listening to the coming out stories from previous generations only reinforces that sense of fear.

I had the privilege of serving as coordinator for a youth retreat last Summer, for Sexual Minority, Gender Variant youth.  During an exercise led by our Artist-in-Residence, Spencer J. Harrison we all got the chance to share coming out stories while in small groups.  One young man’s story in particular made me cry – and not for reasons you might suspect.

At first he didn’t feel he should contribute to the discussion, he didn’t feel that his story was worthy of sharing.  Upon encouragement, he opened up and told his story.  The story of coming out to a family who loved him and supported him – a family to which it didn’t matter what his orientation was.  Unwavering love and reassurance.  And that is what moved me to tears.

More and more people are realizing that orientation doesn’t matter, a person’s sexual desires don’t change who they are as a person.  More and more families find it easy to accept the idea that one of their children may be pansexual, bisexual, asexual, homosexual et al.  More and more young people have GOOD stories to share – and those stories are so worth hearing.  And in those instances where the outcome isn’t so positive?  That’s where community comes in.

If your family doesn’t accept you for who you are, they don’t deserve you.  Family is a choice, and is built on love.  So whether family of blood or family of choice – surround yourself with people who know how amazing you are.  Because you really are incredible!

 

 

a to z, april blog challenge

A2Z – Defining Ourselves

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - defining ourselves

There is something to be said for having such a handle on who you are that you can take a glance in the mirror and say “There I am.  I am _____.”  Personally I don’t know what it’s like.  I’ve never fit neatly into a little box.  Life is messy, and so am I.  I’ve tried to stuff my vast and varied parts into an easily labeled box…  I tried for many, many years to stuff myself into one.  But there were always parts hanging out, keeping the lid only half covering the contents.  I’ve come to be grateful for it though, as I’ve come to accept myself.  That unclosing lid is what kept me breathing.  I think I’d likely have smothered if I’d managed to get it on tightly.

There is this drive, this need in our society, to define ourselves.  Like I said, I suffered from it myself for many years.  Now though?  I really don’t get it.

The minute we can slap a label on that box (whether the box represents others or ourselves) we can put it up on a shelf and forget about it.  When a box has a label on it, we don’t need to dig any deeper.  We don’t need to slowly discover it’s contents.  We rob ourselves of that joy.  Discovery, let’s be honest, really is a joy.  And self discovery?  It’s even more so.

Accept yourself as you are, and if you need a label, there are many out there.  Take which one fits when you need it, and discard it when it no longer does.  Allow yourself the discovery, and allow those around you the same.  You are worth the time it takes to really get to know you.  You are worth the joy of a slow reveal, the slow clap, the slow motion entrance.  Grab that 80’s teen flick moment and just run with it!  Be pretty in pink!

The girl and I, all dressed in matching outfits for Pink Revolution, the anti-bullying week here in Saskatchewan.

The kid and I, pretty in pink, celebrating Pink Revolution today.

LMAO  Okay, yes, super eye-roll-causing segway…  but I HAD to get in this photo of the kid and I – all dressed in our matching duds – as we headed out for the walk to school.  🙂  And while it was a seriously dorky way to lead into the photo that doesn’t take away from the truth of it.

The minute you accept yourself as you are, and stop searching for a way to squish yourself into a nice neat box you’ll find your world will open up in ways you didn’t expect.  You really are worth the joy that comes from slowly discovering all the glorious mysteries that make up that amazing package – don’t deny yourself that pleasure.  Don’t slap on the first definition that seems like it just might fit okay.  There is no rush.  You have your entire lifetime to discover yourself, and those who are worthwhile in your life?  They’ll happily take that time too.

the april a to z blog challenge

A2Z – Asking

As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering taking up the April A to Z blog challenge.  I already blog almost daily, so that wasn’t the issue.  For me?  The biggest challenge is actually staying on topic.  I enjoy writing on whatever hits me as interesting or important at the moment.  I lose my interest otherwise.  But, I figure, if I pick a topic that is dear to my heart – putting in 26 days shouldn’t be an impossible task.  So, I’m going to do it.  …and if I feel the need to go off topic, well…  on those days I’ll just post twice.  LOL  So here we go.  Day one:  Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity.

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - ASKING

For some folk, the most intimidating thing when encountering someone who doesn’t clearly fit into box A or B on the sexual and gender binary, is asking.  And honestly?  It’s something we need to become more comfortable with as a society, because even when someone appears very clearly to fit into “HE” or “SHE” it doesn’t mean that’s their preferred pronoun.  A wonderful individual, whom I am proud to call “friend”, recently posted the following on their Facebook status:

“I find it is no longer important or useful, and in fact has become a negative experience to identify as male. Rather than identifying as another type of gender, I will leave the spectrum of gender identity altogether. This means that the current English language of gender identity pronouns, such as she, her, his, her, xe, and hir, become problematic when referring to me. So with great respect and earnestness, I ask that you refer to me simply by using my name, for in a name the entire soul resides. Thank you.”

This is an individual, whom upon appearance, would very easily fit into the neat and tidy package we call “male” or “masculine” and is proof positive that we cannot, nor should we, presume to use male pronouns based solely on our impressions of said individual.

How we each identify is an intensely personal thing, and it is perfectly okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer – if any.  In fact, for many of us, it’s a question we welcome.  So the next time you are introduced to someone try asking.  Not sure how to word it?  Give this a go:  “Hi Francis, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  Would you mind telling me which pronouns you’d prefer?”  Plain, simple, straightforward.  And if you feel the need to say more, try this:  “I’d hate to offend by insisting on using something that you don’t identify with.”  Chances are they’ll be happy you had the respect and courtesy to ask.

The a2z april blog challenge

And hey!  Ever had something you wanted to ASK (see?  I’m keeping it on topic) about gender, sex, affection, desire, expression, orientation or on any other topic of interest to the acronym community now’s the time.  26 days is a lot to fill, so help me out.  Let me know what YOU would like to see me blog about.  And thanks to Sarah for her suggestion of “Asking” as our very first in the alphabet series.

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