Reid Vanderburgh - November 2007 Newsletter

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Moving toward an expanded life

November 2007 Newsletter

Articles in this issue: Day of Remembrance Stress Management Fair Film Review CE Classes

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Day of Remembrance
On November 14, I presented the keynote address for Eugene's Day of Remembrance, honoring those transgender people who have been murdered because of their identity and/or gender expression. I wrote my speech a few weeks prior to the event, but had to amend it, to address an issue that had not arisen at the time I finished writing it.

I sing in a (very) mixed chorus based in Salem, Oregon, approximately 50 singers strong. We generally perform in the theater of a local community college. Last January, one of our members disappeared, his car found in a parking lot of that same community college, where he was a student. In mid-October, a hunter found his skeletal remains in a heavily-forested area east of Salem. Police are treating the case as homicide.

Bill Mills was a gregarious, openly-gay man. While not particularly “feminine” in his gender expression, he also did not “do male right,” by mainstream standards. Salem is a conservative community, and while the motive for Bill's murder is yet unknown, it's not a great leap to believe it could have been a hate crime. At his sister’s invitation, my chorus sang at Bill's memorial service, somewhat to the consternation of Bill’s other siblings, who are socially very conservative.

You can read the full text of my Day of Remembrance speech, in which I talk not only about the obviously depressing topic of death, but also about success stories and allies. It's not all bad, and we need to remember that perhaps especially on a day designated for remembering the dead.

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LGBTQ Stress Management Fair
On Saturday, November 17, Portland saw its first Stress Management Fair, produced with the LGBTQ community in mind. I helped plan and coordinate this event, and was pleased with how it turned out. Though the space could have been better (we held the event at Portland’s Q Center), the event was fairly well attended given that this was the first such venture ever attempted in Portland.

The Fair offered on-going 20-minute acupuncture and massage sessions, available throughout the day by sign-up sheet. In addition, there were 20-minute yoga and exercise demonstrations, as well as 20-minute presentations on various aspects of stress management - self-care tips, communication, maintaining sobriety, etc. All presentations were developed with the winter holiday season in mind. Our conceptualization of “winter holidays” did not end with Christmas, but extends to include Valentine’s Day, often rough for those who are not partnered, or are newly-single, for whatever reason.

We kept the Fair accessible to all, not only in terms of physical ability, but also in terms of income level. Admission was by donation, with no minimum amount required.

If you would like to be on an e-mail list for the next such event, please send me an e-mail and I will pass your contact information along to the person maintaining our e-mail contact list.

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Film Review
TransGeneration, Sundance Channel, 2005.
I rented this two-disc series through Netflix, shortly after watching Normal and Trans America. Though I enjoyed aspects of both movies, particularly Normal, I felt neither encompassed the totality, the "overwhelmingness" of transition. However, it's probably not possible to encompass such a life-changing process in a two-hour movie. TransGeneration comes closer than either of the other two films, primarily because it follows its four subjects through the course of an entire school year, across eight hour-long episodes.

I was amazed at how much diversity the filmmakers were able to capture in their choice of participants. With just four people, they managed to attain diversity based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, geography, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. The only commonalities the participants shared was age (late adolescence) and that they were all attending college. This diversity led to a wide range of goals in terms of transition, reinforcing for the audience how varied the transition experience is.

I would highly recommend watching this series as a springboard for discussion, as virtually every topic one could think of as a discussion question is addressed at some point during the course of the series.

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CE Classes on Transgender Issues
In late November, I presented the first in a series of three classes through Portland State University’s CE (Continuing Education) program. The first class was a “Trans 101” presentation.

The next two classes will be offered February 22 and May 23. The February class will focus on issues that arise during early and mid-transition: relationships (of all kinds), workplace, invisibility, learning new social boundaries, etc. There will be a panel of trans individuals and their partners, as well as a panel focusing on workplace issues.

The May class will focus on long-term issues, and other considerations. In addition to a panel of long-transitioned individuals, I will also present some ethical dilemmas for small-group discussion.

If you would like to take either of the next two classes, please e-mail Katje Wagner, or call her at (503) 725-8165.

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