The University of Iowa’s student and community-based group TransCollaborations announces the schedule for the fourth annual TransWeek! Nov. 2 through 5 with the theme, "Organizing Against Transnormativity."
"The week's events celebrate trans-identified people and gender variance," says stef shuster, one of the Transcollaboration co-organizers and a graduate student in sociology. "Transgender is not being born in the wrong body or moving from one gender to another, but it is different for every person. It's like a tangling of genders, and people's identities are much more complex than a binary of male or female."
Several nationally recognized performers and social justice activists will come to the UI campus from around the country to help lead workshops and participate in the week of events.
ellie navidson, a self-described “radical tranny faggot” from Chicago, who is gaining recognition for her blog invisiblyqueer.tumblr.com, will present interactive workshops from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 3, at the Iowa City Public Library, and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday Nov. 4, at the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center. The workshops will allow participants to explore one’s self-narrative and make zines.
Red Durkin, managing editor of PrettyQueer.com, will also present a workshop on critical media analysis from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday Nov. 4, at the UI Women’s Resource and Action. A writer, comedian, and vlogger (video blogger), Durkin has toured extensively as part of the Tranny Roadshow and was a member of the Fully Functional Cabaret. Both of these activists, along with several others, will also perform spoken word and poetry at 8 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 3, at Public Space One.
A candlelight vigil and community art project will also be held from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, at the UI Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center, located at 125 Grand Ave. Ct. in Iowa City.
In observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance, the evening will begin with readings and a candlelight vigil to honor trans-identified people who have experienced hate crimes. Participants are asked to conduct research on one transgender person affected by violence and to bring that story to share. After the vigil, everyone is invited to end the evening on a note of hope through creating a community art project oriented around addressing transnormativity. Any medium that people want to work within will be celebrated, and organizers will have some supplies available for people to use.
All UI TransWeek! 2012 events are free and open to the public. A full schedule of events can be viewed at www.transcollaborations.wordpress.com.
"Transgender is not being born in the wrong body or moving from one gender to another, but it is different for every person. It's like a tangling of genders, and people's identities are much more complex than a binary of male or female."
According to shuster, this year's events take aim at transnormativity through many opportunities to engage in dialogue, and through workshops and performance art, around the systemic problems associated with this aspect of transgender communities.
“Transnormativity is an insidious aspect of transgender communities in that it propels myths about who makes up the trans population and how we come to understand ourselves,"shuster says.
Shuster explains the common "transnormative" narrative that is perpetuated in society.
"The narrative is that from an early age we knew we were different, our bodies didn’t match our minds, and that we wanted to transition to 'the other' gender," shuster says. "These are all myths associated with a transnormative narrative, and they simply aren’t true. We are much more complex and nuanced, and there are many ways that trans people narrate our understandings of our identities."
For more information or special accommodations to attend any of these events, contact Lindsay Jarratt, staff adviser for TransCollaborations in the UI Chief Diversity Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-353-2568. shuster may also be reached at email@example.com or at 502-594-7094.
TransWeek 2012 was made possible by support from the following: UI Center for Student Involvement and Leadership; Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students; the UI Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Allied Union (GLBTAU); Mama’s Deli; New Pioneer Co-Op; the UI Department of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the UI LGBT Resource Center; the UI Center for Human Rights; UI Student Government; and the UI Women's Resource and Action Center.
To read a related story on shuster, visit Transgender activist, academic pioneer.