“Our Lives: Queer API Experiences” at the Trans Health Conference

Here is a summary on Van and Tay’s workshop at the THC:

Van and I held a workshop on the last day of the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference called “Our Lives: Queer API Experiences.”  Unlike many of the workshops ours was not a panel discussion but rather a caucus.  We arranged the chairs in a circle and hoped that this would make everyone feel like they could have a chance to mold the discussion in whatever way they desired. While our workshop was restricted to API’s we welcomed any individual who identifies as Asian (whether your Hapa, born in the US, an immigrant or an Asian American adoptee).  There were about 13 people in attendance and although we personally identified and grew up in different manners it was wonderful to see that we thought about many of the same issues.  At the start of the discussion people threw around the term “typical Asian” and it allowed us to think about whether there is a need for such a generalized term to define members of our community.  For most of the workshop we discussed the implications class and poverty has on our Asian identities.  For some of us it made us question if our financial circumstances had a role in how we able to express our gender variances latter in life.  Others wondered why it feels like were poor but have assets that by societal terms means your middle class (and how do you define middle class?)  Overall, it felt like a small safe space for us to share our stories and raise questions that resulted in critical dialog.

Introduction:

Hello my name is Tay and welcome everyone to Our Lives: Queer API experiences. Back in January Van and I heard that the THC was lacking in workshops for POC who weren’t African American.  While I’m so pleased that there are numerous workshops for people of color, we are 1 of 2 specifically for queer API.  Both Van and I think it’s crucial that we have a safe space of our own where we can touch upon the cultural issues and personal history of being a queer API.  This workshop is labeled as restricted but it really isn’t.  Whether you were born in the US, you or your family has immigrated from Asia or are an Asian American adoptee, this workshop is designed for us to share our experiences.  Being a transgender, gender queer and gender nonconforming individual there are many ways in which your ethnicity has played a part in your transition.  Trans and gender variant individuals are among the most concealed and at the lowest edge of social standing in the API community mostly due lack of understanding of our lives.  I hope we can walk away from this workshop with the intent to have our stories help shape change in our personal life’s and the world at large.

Topics, questions and themes from Our Lives: Queer API Experiences

-How do you speak out about marginalization and abuse statistics of queer APIs

-How did it feel to come out as gender non-conforming

-Language barriers

-API queer voices in People of Color communities

-Asian bodies and aesthetics

-Queer Asian spaces

-API as one group

-Mentors for transgender children

-Recognition of you within the family

-Interracial romance/sex

-Class and connecting to APIs from multi-generational poverty

-Therapist’s advised/support and when it only applies to white backgrounds

-Building social/capital and identity in metropolitan cities

-Americanization

-Reconnecting with indigenous API histories

-Faith and religion

-Asian resources

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