At the heart of our conference programming are topic-based discussions generated by Gender Odyssey attendee feedback and input. We’ve designed these discussions so that anyone – regardless of their identity, history, or community – can bring their personal perspective into the mix.
Gender Odyssey discussions have a strong focus on making room for each person’s viewpoint and giving all of us the opportunity to learn from one another. They are designed to encourage us to explore the complexities of how we interact with each other and with the larger society.
If you have strong facilitation skills and are drawn to one or two of the sessions listed below, we encourage you to fill out a Facilitator Application Form. We will then be in touch for a telephone interview.
Note: These sessions are designed to be facilitated discussions with optimal involvement by the greatest number of participants. We are not asking you to develop a presentation—only facilitate a dynamic conversation!
If you have questions about a specific topic or any other programming related matter, please email us at email@example.com.
7 Year Itch
Many years have passed since you physically transitioned, and the impact it had on job, family, relationship, medical issues, and the like has faded a bit into the past. What’s going on in your world now? Your gender may no longer be an issue in most of your personal relationships, but where and how does it pop up? Are you back in the dating pool with no idea how to begin? Are you reconsidering living stealth, or out? Where do you disclose your gender, and where do you find it to be irrelevant?
Note: The focus of this workshop is on people who are five or more years post-transition. All are welcome to listen, but we ask that you respect the intent to create a focused conversation relevant to this particular subset of community.
Adventures in Dating
People of color (POC) may face many race- or ethnicity-based myths, stereotypes, or preconceptions that can complicate the dating process. When the complexity of a diverse gender identity or expression is factored in, the issue becomes that much more layered. Join other trans people of color in this session exploring the world of dating and relationships. Share your experiences—good, bad, or confusing—and let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people of color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.
Authenticity: Reconciling Past and Present
How do you stay in your skin? What helps you be your truest self? How do you integrate your past with your present and still stay sane? What happens to you when you are your most authentic self? What happens to those around you? Let’s share our stories in a non-judgmental way – in a way that comes from our hearts.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn and grow.
Celebrating Trans Femininity: Claiming Our Space
Most of the time it seems like trans women are simply tolerated—or become the exclusionary exception—in women’s communities and spaces. Trans women frequently have been asked to hold their tongue, to not take up space as if to compensate for previous years of perceived “male privilege.” In a world where masculinity is seen as both the pinnacle to strive for and also the expression of the oppressor, trans women are in a catch-22 where their expression of either masculinity or femininity is suspect. There are rarely, if ever, spaces where trans women are not only accepted, but are encouraged and rewarded for being strong, empowered women—for being our diverse and beautiful selves. Trans women do take up space, trans women do have something to say, and our voices are worthy of celebration. This workshop is for trans women to collaborate with each other, discuss ways we can honor our diverse selves, and find ways to support each other within our various communities.
Note: We welcome our non-trans women allies as supportive listeners to this session focusing on trans women’s experience and voices.
Poverty is an enormous issue in trans communities, and one that is too rarely addressed. How does the myth of a classless society, or the assumption that upper/middle class is the norm, impact the many trans people who are struggling to survive? Who is setting the agenda for trans liberation, and what important issues are being overlooked? What makes it hard to talk about our own class backgrounds and current economic resources? What actions can we take to address classism in our everyday lives? How can we connect with other movements to work for economic justice? Let’s discuss ways we can work toward a vision of trans liberation that is truly inclusive.
A Different Take on Passing
Trans women are often held to very rigid and demanding standards of femininity: the slightest deviation from “ideal” femininity can be read as failure. How does our desire to have our gender read correctly interplay with our desire to be authentically ourselves? How can we avoid buying into a regressive and unrealistic version of what constitutes “real” femininity? In what ways does the mythic ideal of femininity change depending on factors such as our class, race, geography, and ability?
Genderqueer: It’s Not Just a Phase
When it comes to gender non-conforming people, we often hear “It’s just a phase.” Old assumptions insist that gender transitions move seamlessly from “point A” to “point B”. Genderfluid identities are dismissed as being temporary placeholders while we look for our “real” identities. Lately, the rediscovery of androgyny in popular culture has opened the door to accusations that gender-benders are just trying to be hip. Either way, we’re not taken seriously! The truth is, genderqueer, by whatever name we call it, is a legitimate and meaningful personal identity. In this workshop, we’ll explore the multifaceted nature of gender and how our expressions of gender can change – even from day to day. How do you name, construct and express your genderqueering? Let’s find out!
Grief, Loss & Transformation: Partners and Transition
When our partner moves towards being their authentic self, many of us celebrate their transformation. However, sometimes our desire to be supportive can result in repressing our own emotions. We may feel guilty for not always being the compassionate partner we “should” be. Our own feelings of grief and loss may be hard to articulate. We may have trouble finding the support and understanding we need. In this closed, partners-only session, we’ll be able to make room for some of that grief, let some go, and find ways to support one another.
Note: This is open only for non-trans partners of people who are physically or socially transitioning, have transitioned, or are considering transition. You do not need to currently be in a relationship to attend.
Head to Toe Health
What are the common health concerns you need to keep in mind during and after transition? Let’s discuss guidelines for staying healthy, including monitoring hormone levels and changes in blood values, important screening tests and exams, protecting your liver/heart screening exams and post surgery care. Bring your questions, and empower yourself to take charge of your health care.
This workshop presents a general overview of hormonal therapy. Testosterone, an anabolic steroid, is a powerful drug that can give desired masculinizing effects while estrogen has feminizing effects. It is important that you know details about the types of hormones, timing, dosing amount, adverse side effects, etc. to protect your health and maximize the desired effects. Come to this informative workshop and learn more about hormones and their administration.
Interracial Relationships: It’s Not all Black and White
Interracial relationships can be challenging and complicated, especially when your partner is transgender or gender-nonconforming. Do racial dynamics sometimes impact your relationship in unanticipated ways? Has the dynamic between you and your partner changed as your partner’s gender shifts, evolves, or as their presentation changes? How comfortable are you with the ways you are perceived by the outside world? Are there things you like about it? Things that make you crazy? Let’s examine the added dimension that race brings to our relationships. This workshop is designed for each of us to bring our own experience(s) to share with others. Please respect this space and share from your heart and your experience only.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of those who are or have been in interracial relationships but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.
Intersections of Trans Identity and Aging
As we age, things change—physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually! We live in a culture that stigmatizes getting older, despite that it’s a reality for us all. The subject of aging in general is often swept under the rug, and trans elders face significant additional challenges that only add to our fears and concerns. As aging AND transgender people, we need to be prepared. This interactive, facilitated discussion will allow us to hear each other’s stories and share our individual experiences with the goal of attaining strategies, tips, concerns, and camaraderie for this uncharted path.
Just One of the Gals
How many of us, assigned male at birth, have felt robbed of the opportunity to bond with other women? Without this camaraderie of female friendships, we may feel that our social circles were, or perhaps are still, incomplete. Some of us have been able, as transgender adults, to find the female friendships we longed for in our youth.
Leadership and Organizing
If you have chosen a leadership role, what attracted you to lead? Or, did leadership find you by default? If you have been a leader or activist in your city/hometown, have you changed your point of view about leading as time passed? What pitfalls or limitations have you found in how you’ve chosen to lead and/or organize? What methods have been successful and lasting? How do you prevent burnout? Has your style of leadership conflicted with others in your community? Have you received support from unexpected places? Come share your experiences, listen to the successes and pitfalls of others, and let’s learn from one another.
OK, Cupid, How Do I Do This?
Where’s the how-to manual for trans women and dating? Dating can be challenging for anyone without the added challenge of our trans bodies and experiences. How do I meet friends who may become more than friends? If I put up an online ad, do I disclose my gender status upfront or wait until I’ve had a date or two? Until it’s time to be sexual? Later than that? How does this change if I am pre-op, post -op, non-op? If I do talk about it, what is a reasonable way to do it that respects the person to whom I’m disclosing but also—even especially—respects myself? Join us for a frank, honest discussion as we share our stories and learn from each other.
Rules of Attraction
Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual… wait, is it transsexual? There are few descriptors for those who are specifically attracted to trans people. For trans people, how does this affect our ability to feel sexy and desirable? How do we know if someone’s attraction to us is based on a gender fetish? Do we ourselves fetishize non-trans bodies? As non-trans people, are our motives questioned when we choose a trans lover? Are they questioned when we state that we prefer to date trans people? How can we claim our desire for trans bodies as a legitimate sexual orientation? How do we deal with language that assumes we’d rather date non-trans people? Join us for an in-depth discussion of navigating dating, sex, and intimacy with bodies that aren’t recognized by the current language of sexual orientation. Let’s talk about getting confident in our own sexiness, and making room for trans-specific desire.
We are dedicated to making Gender Odyssey an inclusive and supportive space for everyone. We ask that all prospective facilitators please review the following guidelines. If you feel the need for further clarification, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your job as a Gender Odyssey facilitator is to:
- Have a strong understanding of group dynamics and a strong commitment to maintaining equity within the group.
- Create an inclusive and supportive space for everyone
- Review the discussion guidelines for group participation (in front of program book)
- Keep the discussion relevant to the topic and objective/s
- Engage all participants and encourage different perspectives
- Be responsible for starting and ending on time.
- Conduct the group in a way that allows for appropriate interactions amongst the participants. Re-direct the discussion if one or a few participants are monopolizing time.
- If someone becomes disruptive to the group, ask them to leave.
- Remember that this is not a lecture or workshop format. Rather than making statements, limit yourself to interjecting questions to promote discussion among the group members.
- The goal of the discussion is to promote thoughts, opinions and viewpoints amongst the participants and gives individuals the opportunity to share their own truth and experience. Be as objective as possible, and hold your personal opinions at bay.
Sessions are 1 1/2 hours in length.
Gender Odyssey recognizes the vast amount of knowledge and experience that all of our attendees bring to this conference: your job as facilitator is to optimize the participation of others.
Important Note: We strongly encourage all facilitators to show an understanding of the elements of diversity (such as race, class, age, gender identities, etc.) with relation to each session topic.
We recognize that good facilitation requires practice and skill, and that your contribution is a vital part of Gender Odyssey’s reputation for powerful and relevant programming. Thank you for lending us your abilities!