Trans Sistas of Color to Host One-Day Conference

By Jason A. Michael

DETROIT — The Trans Sistas of Color Project will host a one-day conference April 23 called the Gathering. The conference, which will take place at an undisclosed location for safety, aims to deepen the bonds of "sistahood" among trans women of color in Detroit, increase the power and agency of trans women of color, define what advocacy, activism and community organizing/development look like to trans women of color and, finally, to gather data, information and insight from trans women of color that will guide, inform and influence the fledgling agency's work and programming.

"When we began planning the Gathering, we were extremely intentional about how we wanted to engage our sisters and what the takeaways and deliverables could be," said Bre' Campbell, TSOCP's executive director. "As a trans-led, trans-centric organization that was created to be of service to trans women of color in real, significant and transformative ways, we are acutely aware that those takeaways and deliverables have to be directed and framed by the very trans women of color we wish to serve."

The theme for the Gathering is "I Am My Sista's Keeper." The conference is only open to trans women of color and the workshops and sessions will be led by the same.

"The Gathering came about because I realized that in order to do great work, it has to be supported by the community," Campbell said. "And there's no way we can do work that is supported by the community if we don't get input from the community. I feel like people see me as the executive director of this organization so they assume that my needs are the needs of this community, which they're not. So I wanted to make sure going forward in all that we do that we have some kind of community input or buy in."

Workshop titles include "Framing Our Narrative: The Genesis of TSOCP," "Getting Into Formation: Building a Sista Circle," "Squad Goals" and "If I Knew Then What I Know Now."

Campbell herself will facilitate the "If I Knew Then" workshop.

"I really wanted to have a conversation with the community about my own personal activism and my triumphs and my shortcomings," she said. "If I had known all of the things that I know now, I would have planned better and I would have started this organization a long time ago. It took for me to actually be in national spaces with national leaders and people who really believe in the goals of the organization and believe in my work who said, 'There are better ways that you can do this. There are better ways that you can be an advocate.'"

Ahya Simone Taylor, a TSOCP board member, will facilitate the "Getting Into Formation" workshop.

"When we think about community we also have to think about what connects us all, and a lot of times we're connected in pain and trauma," Taylor said. "This is an attempt to call forth that trauma and build a foundation to connect people to each other. As trans folks, we need to dismantle the ways of communicating with each other, the ways that we internalize our oppression, and build and find new ways to share."

Taylor said she is looking forward to simply being in the same space at the same time as so many of her trans sisters.

"I'm really looking forward to the kikis, the fun times," she said. "I'm so excited just to have all the girls in one room and just to share space with trans women of color. I just think it's so important that we remain connected with each other in whatever way that we can."

One final goal of the conference, according to Campbell, is to gather information on trans women of color in Detroit.

"We want to use this opportunity to gather trans specific data in Detroit so we can leverage funding."

The Gathering will take place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free and transportation will be provided if necessary. To register and find out the location of the conference, call 313-537-7000 x 107.

In addition the Gathering, the Trans Sistas of Color Project is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, April 24 at the Grenadier Lounge, which is located at 3101 McDougall St. in Detroit. The Dollhouse will feature performances by Fantaysia Dior, Cierra Dior, Mia Cole and others. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
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