Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

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And so... Transfabulous!!!!!

It's always hard to be objective about something that was mostly an amazing good time that was had by all who were there. Back in the days of the trans group at GLF in 1971, I really would not have believed that we would get to the point where there would be a trans community that could host a three-day event - and of course Transfabulous is a resurgence of that after the equally amazing period when we had the Transgender Film Festival, which in due course collapsed in acrimony and personal differences.

So there is something chastened already about one's sense of euphoria. It was great, but things have fallen apart before, and anything that I say which is negative is not intended to compromise either my sense of it as a really happy and positive event or the need to engage in constructive criticism so that it can be better yet.

So, personal stuff first. I ran my creative writing workshop and people seemed to find that reasonably useful and inspiring. I was winging it, but, as fastfwd said when we discussed it, I've been acting as interlocutor and muse to a whole bunch of my friends for years on a one-to-one basis, so I have more of the skills involved in teaching than I possibly consciously know. And it ended up being partly about life skills as well as writing, and very much me saying 'do as I say, not as I do' because not the best example in the world. And I read a bit of 'With the Wild Girls' at the end so that people could critique back, but they didn't, mostly because they liked it.

Before I went and did the workshop, I had rehearsed my reading for the afternoon and decided that I was going to stick to the 20 minute slot asked for, which worked out as the introductory two pages of 'Teen Dreams', the vivid incantatory opening of the Aztecs bit of 'Adore and Serve' and a chunk of Dawn and Celeste from 'Dawn in Rome'. When I read aloud, I see no reason not to include fanfic and it was an inspired choice in this context because, predictably, the audience at a transgender arts festival is full of geeks, who either read fanfic or do now... It meant that people felt able to start conversations with me and meant that I was approachable.

Which brings me to one of the problems I had with the event. Several of the other participants in the symposium bit were there to do their bit and then go, or stayed for the concert but did not come back the next day. This wasn't true of Josephine, but it was of several of the others.
It seems to me that, at a community event, it is important not to be frakking stars; it also irritated me that, of the symposium people, I was the only one who even tried to stick to the slot length we were given which meant that there was comparatively little time for Q&A. I could be a prima donna too - I am quite good at being a prima donna - but there is such a thing as being professional, and not an ego.

The concert was probably the best bit - I had to miss the cabaret the previous night because smoky pubs and I do not mesh and I got to the point of needing to leave just about the time that the cabaret was supposed to start, which was a shame.

The trans community is full of gifted performance artists, musicians and comics. It always amazes me that we are such a damned talented bunch and I wonder how many more of us will be doing fabulous stuff as the stigma of being trans lessens. Jessica Lauren, for example, is a truely wonderful keyboard and mouth organ player with a real career in jazz. And Joey Hensley who does material that transcends dance, acrobatics, standup and monologues and is one of the few people I've ever seen who really is a performance artist rather than a 'performance artist'. Both sorts of geniuses in their way.

I was impressed by Travis' film about the transition of a singer called Simon, because it did address the difficult issue of transitioning when you know that it is going fundamentally to alter your artistic direction. In Simon's case, by literally changing his voice with no guarantee that he would ever be a decent singer again. It reminded me of the stories I have heard about a mezzo with a middling career in opera who has made the decision to delay transition until her voice goes anyway just because she loves the music even more than herself...

After lunch, I went to a lecture on Douglas Sirk, but it was too hot and too Mulveyesque for me to stay once headache intervened. I apologized to the lecturer later.

I sloped off to spend a few hours with selenak rather than doing another film because I needed a reality check and Tanya is in town, yay! So we chatted about comics and went for tea at Patisserie Valerie and I dragged her round Spitalfields and environs, because I like the old houses and the market and even quite like the new mally bits and the odd bits of greenspace decoration they have put in.

We even got to see the inside of the old Princelet St Synagogue which crazycrone was talking about the other day. Only suddenly I couldn't breathe. I need to see a doctor about this, because though I have never been diagnosed with asthma, I do seem to have asthma-like symptoms in the presence of dry rot and certain polish propellants, especially on hot days. So I got out and was fine once I stood in front of a curry restaurant and breathed spices for five minutes.

I got back for some of the final session - jasonelvis and Charlotte doing chunks of personal recollection and the Kitchenettes being inventive and bizarre - and then went and sat in the park late into the night as we had after the concert. One of the best things about several days in extreme heat in a not especially A/Ced building was literally chilling out afterwards in Weavers' Fields. I drifted home about 10.30 conscious of having been at something special.

So, questions? comments? - Well, my major one was something I voiced already in some of the sessions which was that, partly because there was a lot of emphasis on photography in the exhibitions and the symposium, and partly because of the demographic that turned up, things got a little oriented around the lithe buff bodies of able-bodied young transmen. ( I'd have made the same points if the emphasis had been on glamourous young transwomen.)

We are a community who get older. We most of us undergo some sort of drugs or surgical procedures and are prone to the complications that ensue. The stigma that still applies to us means that, when we have other medical problems, we don't get quite the respect from some medical professionals we might legitimately expect, and that has consequences. (In my case a vast and by now inoperable surgical hernia.)

I felt, and I was not the only one, that there was a failure to address the ageing trans body and the less abled trans body. This is not so much a criticism as a wishlist item for next year.

The innocent and beautiful have no enemy but time, but that is quite enemy enough and we need to address that.

All of that apart, a wonderful weekend for which jasonelvis and Serge and Catherine and everyone else should be congratulated and hugged and kissed even more than they have been already, not least by me.

And I seem to be getting on with The Freedom of Power, finally. I made some intellectual breakthroughs yesterday, I think, which make me very happy. I shared them with fastfwd and jennyo who agreed that they made sense, so we shall see....
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