(UN)Packing Gender Conference

I just got home from spending the entire day at the downtown library for Trans Action's 1st Annual "(UN)Packing Gender Conference". It was a really refreshing experience.

And exhausting. Only because I had to leave my apartment at 7:30am to help Jude setup for the conference.

Workshop #1: Makeup!

The first workshop I attended with orange juice and a bagel pertained to highlighting feminine features with the magic of makeup. I chose this one over the how-to-shave workshop going on at the same time because a.) I don't need to shave yet, and b.) I can't resist my love for SPFX makeup. I know how to make a bloody eye socket, zombies, werewolves, fangs and anything monstrous - but beauty makeup? It couldn't possibly be more foreign to me. Eye liner? Eye shadow? What's the difference?

And I learned a few things! For instance, I learned that applying white eye-liner under one's eye can make it look larger. Or that applying a light color to the inside eye area can help light reflect into the eye and have a bit of a popping effect.

Workshop #2: Trans n' Families

I was a part of this workshop, sitting on a panel with my father and brother alongside some other parents with their trans children.

My dad and brother were so adorable and amazing. When the audience directed a question to the parents on the panel about when they suspected their child was trans, my father responded that it had never occurred to him because how my gender expression manifested wasn't relevant to him. Feminine, masculine, whatever. To him, his role is to help me live happy and to support both of his sons as unique individuals. He explained that my being trans has actually been wonderful for him because he's spent his life living as a cisgender heterosexual male and, because of this, has had intimate access to this "community of unbelievably amazing people" by having me as a child. It was so, so cute.

My brother talked about how I'm the same brother he loves and that he's just learned something new about me. And that, to him, my gender expression or trans identity are such a small speck of dust in his overall perception of who I am (which he described as a "mountain of mannerisms, ideas, personality, interests, memories,...") that my coming out as trans also wasn't a big deal to him.

It was really touching, the two of them.

Most Important: Lunch

After the panel a group of us - including a mother and daughter who were also on the panel - went to grab lunch. While at lunch I learned from the two of them that the laws regarding name and gender change have been altered recently in Utah. First, the cost of a name change has gone from around $100 to $350. Second, having one's gender marker changed on their I.D. has become far more complicated. Oy.

The daughter also told me a story about how when she went to the DMV to have a new I.D. picture taken, because her "appearance didn't match her gender marker" (which was "M" at the time) - they refused to take a new photo of her until her gender marker was changed to "F".

Which makes me wonder - a little later down the road here when I have the "F" gender marker and I will most likely have facial hair, will I also experience problems? If I go in for a new I.D., will the DMV employees subjectively determine that my appearance doesn't "match" my gender marker and therefore deny me a new I.D. photo? What about butch women? Or cisgender women with facial hair? This is so messed up and discriminatory.

Trans Clothing Swap

At the end of lunch I dug through a "trans clothing swap" and snagged THREE SHIRTS AND 1 PAIR OF JAMMIE BOTTOMS. Oh yeah! This is a big deal! My clothing supply is tapped out from my body constantly shifting due to the body changes associated with hormone therapy. I've outgrown clothes that fit me just 3 months ago.

Workshop #3 & Keynote Address

After lunch my brother and I attended a "transmasculinity discussion panel" that led to a lot of discussion. At one point the facilitator asked everyone to pretend that the room was a "masculine/feminine spectrum" and that the far south side of the room represented masculine and the north side represented feminine. We were encourage to sit where we felt we rested on the spectrum. I sat near the center, barely tipping on the masculine side of things and explained that I sat where I did "because it's 2009". And that, "If it was the the late 1600's when masculine fashion entailed wearing powdered wigs, blush, and high-heels I'd be sitting on the more feminine end of this spectrum. Or maybe just on the more impoverished, over on the east wall of chairs."

Soon the workshop turned into a heated discussion about "patriarchy" and the "power" of being "male", which I've always had a difficult time with. Prior to starting hormone therapy my experiences were uniquely my own and not synonymous with the class of "woman". I experienced a lot of pros and cons - which were vastly different than what I presume Pamela Anderson's have been or any feminine or hyper-feminine individual's, male/female/other.

Which, in contrast to that discussion, there was an amazing keynote address to end the conference where the speaker, PJ Carlisle, referred to a "masculine/feminine gender tyranny" - one that has a huge impact on cisgender AND transgender individuals as human beings who are much more diverse than the fauz gender binary leads us to assume.


  1. i am so sad that i missed EVERY single tranny event this month because of work. boo :(

    glad you are my one stop shop to trannydom, usa though :)

  2. Neekole: No problem! Or, at least, you're one stop shop to trannydom, mel's apartment and occasional trek out into the world. Close to all of the USA, though. 'ish. Good enough! ;]

  3. What an incredible conference!
    And I love this : a "mountain of mannerisms, ideas, personality, interests, memories,...") What a perfect way to describe a person.

    Is this an annual conference?


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