Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keystone Conference, 2015

I didn't make it, but my friend Sharon did and she agreed to write up a bit about her visit.  Part one is today; part two tomorrow.

The 2015 Keystone Conference:  My Home Away From Home
By Sharon Rose

This was my seventh year attending the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, which is organized by TranscentralPA, the Transgender Education Association of Central Pennsylvania.  The conference has grown in size each year.  As always, they had interesting and inspirational speakers, a wide range of seminars, and fun outings.

I have written in the past in great detail about my conference experiences, so I am not going to do that again here.  I did attend some new (to me) seminars.  One of them was on personal defense.  I learned some safety tips, and after returning from the conference decided to purchase some pepper spray.

Another was titled “Transgender in Cuba, Reflections of a Changing World”.  It was a workshop by Mariette Pathy Allen about her recent trips to Cuba to document the Trans Community there.  Here is the writeup on that from the conference booklet:

This workshop presents photographs from my new book, "TransCuba". I will narrate experiences and stories based on my four trips to Cuba, and interviews with some of the women in the book. This is an amazing time in the evolution of the treatment of gender variant people all over Cuba. You'll be surprised and moved and come to a new understanding of the lives of these remarkable, resilient women, and one man).

Mariette Pathy Allen has been photographing the transgender community for over 35 years. Through her artistic practice, she has been a pioneering force in gender consciousness, contributing to numerous cultural and academic publications about gender variance and lecturing throughout the globe. Her first book "Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them" was groundbreaking in its investigation of a misunderstood community. Her second book "The Gender Frontier" is a collection of photographs, interviews, and essays covering political activism, youth, and the range of people that identify as transgender in mainland USA. It won the 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Transgender/Genderqueer category. She received the Pioneer Award at Fantasia Fair in 2014.

Daylight books published Mariette’s new book, “TransCuba”, in April, 2014. This book is bilingual, containing several essays, interviews, and 70 color photographs. There has been a lot of online publicity for “TransCuba”. Photographs from the book are in a solo exhibition in Havana, which will travel around Cuba.

When I was in college I took my first steps to explore my Trans identity.  I would go to the university library to read books that depicted Trans people in a positive light.  Mariette’s book “Transformations” was one of the few I could find that fit that description.  I would read it in the library, too afraid to check it out.  I introduced myself after the seminar and thanked Mariette for all of her work.

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