segregation

I’m going to attend a meeting tonight that’s listed as “transmasculine support group” and while I’m not sure exactly what to expect, I’m excited to go check it out and maybe meet some new people. I’ve made some great friends here, but I’d love to expand my social circle more and poke my head in the door of the trans community in San Francisco. Original Plumbing is based in SF and they have events from time to time (there’s one this week, in fact), but when I read about them they seem to be very party-focused and I don’t know that that’s the sort of event where I’d feel like I could meet people easily. It’s tough for me to socialize with folks I don’t know when the atmosphere is geared towards dancing/partying vs. conversation.

Maybe this is going to be a great group full of people I want to get to know better, but I’m already frustrated by it. As far as I can tell, there are no general discussion/support groups for trans people in San Francisco that aren’t gender-segregated. I found one for trans people of color, one about trans spirituality, and one for trans folks with HIV/AIDS, but every general-purpose group lists itself as being transmasculine/transfeminine (or assorted other terms that mean roughly the same thing) only. I understand the need for spaces like this, but the lack of options for non-binary-identified trans people, or those who like having a mixed-gender space, is really frustrating for me.

I’d rather talk about gender with a wider group of people than just those whose gender identities are similar to mine. I generally say I’m only semi-male-identified anyway, and depending on the overall feel of a group for trans men I may or may not feel comfortable there. I know that a mixed group would be great for all the genderqueer or non-binary trans people out there, but even for trans folks that do identify strongly with the gender binary, wouldn’t a group of assorted genders be helpful?

I’m sure there are issues folks wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing in a mixed group; I do think that more specific spaces are a good idea (in terms of gender identity and the inclusive groups mentioned above) because the topics covered will vary and there’s no one group type that everyone will love. But I think that the more trans people of all different identities talk to and learn from each other, the better off all of us will be. This is especially important because of how often trans issues are ignored by supposedly “LGBT” groups – anything that helps the T feel more united as a group can only be a good thing, right?

Maybe some of this is nostalgia for Trans Talk Tuesday, a group in Carrboro that was open to anyone who considered themselves trans*, gender-variant, or questioning in any of those directions. It was often skewed more in the transmasculine/assigned-female-at-birth genderqueer direction, but the folks who came represented a pretty diverse range of gender identities and experiences and I really appreciated that. If there’s nothing like that here… maybe I should try to start one?

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