What is safety? Whose safety is valued? At whose expense? What would real safety look like? Often, when we talk about safety in the contemporary United States, the conversation perpetuates fear about people who are perceived as threats. As a result, many turn to increased surveillance, increased policing, increased deportations, and increased incarceration as ways of fostering safety. Our conference holds that these systems make some of us very much less safe, and we believe that they harm all of us. As queer and trans folks whose bodies have historically been labeled as too dangerous to exist, we think it is essential to question any definition of safety that treats anyone as less than human.
Mainstream conversations around queer and trans people’s safety often center hate crimes legislation as a solution for homophobic and transphobic violence. Ending violence against LGBTQ people is important, but hate crimes legislation is not the way to get there. On the contrary, this legislation holds up systemic violence that we need to disrupt and fails to actually combat the structural cissexism and heterosexism-not to mention transmisogyny- that leads to these individual actions. What’s more, it silences conversation about the harm that the current (in)justice system inflicts on queer and trans communities. And it silences the discussion about who in our communities is most affected by systemic and interpersonal violences - by policing, misgendering, and attacks that disproportionately target trans women and queer and trans people of color - which stops us from taking urgent and necessary action to center those voices and experiences in our efforts to make our communities safe.We want to find ways of addressing homophobia and transphobia that do not recreate other forms of oppression and violence.
A conversation about safety for queer and trans folks must begin with our lived experiences, acknowledging that we all experience violence differently. Mainstream conversations about safety do not talk about the violence inflicted by these (in)justice systems – the people being affected by prison cages, stop and frisk, police brutality, solitary confinement, mandatory minimum sentences, separation from family members, life sentences, misgendering in holding centers, airport pat-downs, invasions of privacy, school-to-prison pipelines, and deportation. Nor do they talk about the other forms of daily violence making queer and trans communities unsafe -- sexual violence, unemployment, lack of health care, unequal access to public spaces, food insecurity, toxic contamination, cultural appropriation, and the everyday regulation of our identities and bodies. So we must ask, what does it look like to build communities that really are safe for all of us?
Our conference aims to center the experiences of people who are directly harmed by the current systems that are said to create safety. We hope to do this by celebrating the stories of people of color, undocumented immigrants, indigenous peoples, religious minorities, working class people, unemployed people, people being trafficked, sex workers, incarcerated people, people with disabilities, trans folks, gender benders, queer folks, womyn, youth, elderly, and all others who share or work in solidarity with their struggles. We operate from the belief that safety requires community empowerment, not policing, incarceration, deportation or surveillance. Queer and trans people need and deserve to be able to decide for ourselves what constitutes safety and what constitutes justice. We seek to understand how to build alternative systems of justice, ones that address the underlying issues that we face and are not predicated on anyone’s oppression.
This year’s conference brings together activists, scholars, and performers to address the lived experiences of queer and trans people who are working towards creating different forms of safety in their communities. We believe that these conversations must lead us to take action in our own communities, which has led us to give a particular emphasis on people organizing locally in this year’s conference. We come to these conversations with humility, hoping that they may serve as starting points for collaborations around safety and community empowerment for more queer and trans people.
For a color-coded, calendar-style schedule of events, click here
LECTURE, Sylvia Rivera Law Project
"Organizing from the Inside: Centering the Voices and Leadership of Our Incarcerated Queer and Trans Community Members"
4:30–6:00pm, Kohlberg Hall, Room 116
GALLERY OPENING, Lxs Afrxlatinxs
"A Queer Afrolatin@ Visibility Project"
7:00–9:00pm, Kitao Gallery
This space is open all weekend, from 12:00 to 5:00pm every day.
WORKSHOP, Erika Núñez
"History of Immigration and Stopping Deportation"
5:00–6:30pm, Kohlberg Hall, Room 116
10:00pm–1:00am, Olde Club
WORKSHOP, Icarus Project
"Making Sense of Being Crazy in a Crazy World: A Community Discussion"
2:00–3:30 pm, Kohlberg Hall, Room 116
"Safety from the Inside Out"
4:00–5:30 pm, Kohlberg Hall, Room 116
"Taking Power Back! Knowing Your Rights & CopWatch"
12:00–1:30pm, Bond Hall
WORKSHOP, Red Umbrella Project
"How to Trick the Minotaur: Legislative Advocacy and Radical Queer Praxis"
2:00–3:30pm, Bond Hall
WORKSHOP, Julia Serano
"Sexualization and Marginalization"
4:00–5:30pm, Bond Hall
with Julia Serano
6:00–7:30pm, Bond Hall
The QTC planning committee will be kicking off the conference with a parlor party. Participants may record their ideas about their gender/sexual identity on pieces of fabric, which will then be assembled into a large quilt-like collective installation piece.
“The centrality of community-building in creating safety from violence is too often forgotten, not only by detention agencies and courts, but also at times by advocates and scholars. Means for creating community and building positive relationships must be a central consideration in developing ways to reduce violence against TIGNC people in detention.”* - During this workshop we will share personal accounts of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project's Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) members, as they describe the most pressing issues facing incarcerated queer and trans people today. We will discuss the various ways that we can build with people who are incarcerated and identify community-based methods for addressing the violence of the PIC. Before concluding, we will write messages of strength and support to PAC members via SRLP postcards. *Gabriel Arkles, Safety and Solidarity Across Gender Lines: Rethinking Segregation of Transgender People in Detention, 18 TEMP. POL. & CIV. RTS. L. REV. 518 (2009).
Lxs Afrxlatinxs (pronounced Les Afrelatines) is a visibility project for queer-identifying Afrolatin@s. Through video interviews, storytelling, and photography, the project provides a space for the community building, agency, and self-expression for LGBTQ+ Latin@s of acknowledged African heritage.
This is a performance by THEESatisfaction. There is no sentence blurb for this event yet! Please check back later.
Oppression occurs when individuals are systematically subjected to political, economic, cultural, or social degradation because they belong to a certain social group. For every social category that is privileged, one or more other categories are oppressed in relation to it. The concept of oppression points to social forces that tend to press upon people and hold them down, to hem them in and block their pursuits of a good life. Just as privilege tends to open doors of opportunity, oppression tends to slam them shut. How do we as LGBTQ people, People of Color, Women, People who have lived through various forms of mental, emotional and/or physical trauma, etc get the support, create healing communities, and TAKE BACK our POWER?
What if creating a safe world is an inside job? What if the most sensitive and vulnerable are the very ones who carry the blueprint to designing a world that is safe for everyone? What if we are the ones we have been waiting for? With movement, meditation and heart felt conversation together we will explore these questions and more allowing the inner resources of our body, mind, spirit and soul to reveal long awaited wisdom …
Join Organizers of FIERCE, an LGBTQ Youth of Color organization based in New York City for a discussion about the importance of knowing your rights when having street encounters with police officers. Also learn about the concept of CopWatch and how it can help to defuse and de-escalate situations. FIERCE is dedicated to building the power and leadership of LGBTQ Youth of Color.
Legislative process is incredibly labyrinthian: sometimes it seems like only bureaucrats know how to navigate the maze, and they're not renowned for being helpful. For many radicals, it seems like the arena has no use to them: after all how many revolutionary changes have come about from passing a law? In this workshop, community organizer Emma Caterine of Red Umbrella Project will talk about her experiences trying to pass the Access to Condoms Bill in the New York State legislature as an example of queer praxis. Emma will go into depth about how low budget groups of marginalized people can work the system through coalition building and digital information sharing. What can be accomplished will be presented in an optimistic, but also nuanced, way that draws both from Emma's experiences and others throughout history.
Julia Serano is leading this workshop. There is no sentence blurb for this event yet! Please check back later.
Julia Serano is a widely renowned writer, activist, and performer whose work has set the foreground for trans feminism both inside and outside academic circles. Serano’s "Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity" has become an increasingly important text in gender, queer, trans, sexuality, and feminist studies. Despite being widely read by scholars, however, she is also known for her spoken word poetry--through which she engages with her experiences as a bi and trans woman--which she has performed at a variety of high profile events such as the National Queer Arts Festival and the San Francisco Main, Dyke, and Trans stages. She has also worked as a researcher on the field of biology for seventeen years, as a musician in her band Bitesize, and as an event curator.
O has newly returned to the field of medicine teaching at Temple University as a Patient Instructor, working with first and second year students. With a team of visionaries O is Co-Creating and designing a Healing Center at Serenity House a satellite Minister of Arch St United Methodist Church. O was certified in 1979 as a massage therapist and has made health and well being her personal commitment and life's purpose. She is a group facilitator with many years of experience in body wisdom, stress modification and the healing powers of love. She has also expressed her ministry by participating in theater, promoting social transformation and addressing issues involving domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, economic injustice and the breakdown of the medical health system. O has provided presentations and workshops for various organizations such as Women for Sobriety, Interim House a drug and alcohol treatment center and has appeared on radio and TV talk shows.
Erika Guadalupe Núñez is a queer undocumented artist and activist focusing on topics relating to immigrant rights, racial justice, and queerness. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2013 with a B.A. in studio art. Núñez has been involved in the immigrant rights movement for the last three years as a core organizer for DreamActivist Pennsylvania and National Immigrant Youth Alliance. Her work in the movement ranges from creating visual images for campaigns, stopping deportations, and facilitating workshops on college access or civil rights for members of her undocumented community. In 2013, Núñez was jailed for her role in a civil disobedience action and experienced firsthand the difficulties of being queer while in detention. Among her pursuits, Núñez teaches English twice a week, rushes home to her girlfriend, and tweets as @monequiltia on a regular basis.
Whitney P. Lopez is a genderqueer/nonbinary artist and anthropologist of African American and Boricua descent. As an anthropologist and Africana scholar, Whitney’s main work has been curating panel discussions and talks on race, racism, gender, and the African Diaspora in Latin America and the United States. They are also a crafter and the designer behind the handmade accessories of Porque Flora Said So.
Emma Caterine is your pretty typical trans woman story: played with dolls when she was little, always felt different, had the federal government spying on her by age 14 because of her interest in the Black Panthers, etc. Whether it is the Virginia state police spying on the labor organization she worked for in Virginia or the NYPD showing up in force for any trans-related march in the city, Emma is all too familiar with how a post-9/11 security culture works to quash the dissent of any who oppose. Her work as a community organizer with Red Umbrella Project has her fighting alongside folks who have been chronically criminalized. Emma has written for Autostraddle, Maximum Rock 'n Roll, RH Reality Check, Tits and Sass, and many more. She has spoken in colleges and conferences throughout the US on Black history, trans women, sex work, punk and metal music, radical socialism, and one time, her obsession with John Darnielle. If you want her to yell at your conference about any of these , feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alysandra McCann is a multi-ethnic, transgender activist who's been a board and collective member at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project since the Spring of 2013. She regularly communicates with the incarcerated trans, intersex and gender non-conforming individuals who make up SRLP's Prisoner Advisory Committee and Prisoner Justice Project, facilitating name change requests and delivering their reports of life behind bars through a public blog. Alisha Williams is a Staff Attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Director of SRLP’s Prisoner Justice Project. After graduating from Cardozo Law School, Alisha moved to Philadelphia where she remained committed to performing prisoner justice work and community organizing before returning to NYC to join the SRLP staff. Alisha's work allows her to engage in community organizing for prison abolition while seeking immediate institutional changes to provide access to safer correctional housing for trans* community members.
John Blasco is 24 year old Youth Organizer in New York City. John is the Lead Organizer of FIERCE and currently works on leading local campaigns around police accountability and access to public space with LGBTQ Youth of Color. John started at FIERCE in 2007 as a member of the organization working on outreach and recruitment.
Lee Jimenez is a 24 year old Youth Organizer in New York City. Lee is currently the Organizer of FIERCE and started as a member of the organization. Lee began at FIERCE in 2008 as an intern in the Education for Liberation Project and now is a staff coordinating outreach, recruitment and retention. Junior Melendez is a 19 year old Youth Organizer in New York City. Junior is an active member of FIERCE and is currently the Organizing Intern. Junior sits on FIERCE's Organizing Committee and National Team.