CLPP’s focus on memories from the past 30 years has had me thinking about what the the conference meant to me personally. Last year I wrote about how organizing the conference activated me in the reproductive justice movement. I think it’s so important as organizers and activists that we get something personally out of the work we do – we may have a strong connection to the issue but I think for organizing to be sustainable we need to see some benefit in our daily life. This often means finding community, a group of people who care about and support us. In college that’s what the CLPP student group was for me.
I entered college a pro-life boy. In CLPP I not only found a place where I could have my views challenged and learn new things, but I also found a home in the reproductive justice movement. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard the term “genderqueer,” but I know it was during my first semester in the student group. I also don’t remember when I first started using the term to describe myself – it seriously just happened. In fact, I’d been identifying as genderqueer for a little while before I even saw a definition of the term. Something about the word just fit me, just felt completely right at that particular moment.
My friends in the student group gave me space to explore my identity, celebrating my new experiments with makeup or when I showed up to a friends gallery reception in a (fabulous) giant pink taffeta skirt. The whole student group wasn’t queer, trans, or gender non-conforming, but a lot of folks were, and this was my first queer/trans family.
Genderqueer is a revelation for a lot of people, a door into a world of gender that’s not confined to compulsory male or female boxes. For a lot of folks it’s an identity they belong in. For myself and others it can be a step to move through on the way to discovering we’re trans. This shift was a frightening one to make – I’m overjoyed to be living honestly as a woman but it’s a big step to take! Friends I made in the CLPP student group supported me in getting ready to come out as female. In fact, friends I made there continue to be some of my most important supports.
I feel so blessed to have had this kind of organizing community in college, a family of young people committed to justice in our work and in our lives together. And I’m thrilled that I’ll be returning to the CLPP conference again to live blog at Feministing and speak about transfeminisms, a topic I first learned about through the CLPP student group.
Registration is now open for the reproductive justice conference: click here to register!