This past weekend, Atlanta hosted the annual Southern Comfort Conference. Though Southern Comfort is considered the most popular Transgender conference in the U.S., Monica and I have grown disenchanted with it. There are no longer any seminars nor discussions at Southern Comfort focused on issues of importance to either of us. Monica has engaged in the political process and “spoken truth to power” on behalf of Transgender rights for nearly two decades. While I have a strong interest in political and civic involvement, I feel my calling lies in opening up families and communities of faith to Transgender persons. In particular, I seek dialogue on Transgender options for starting families (e.g. adoption) and building faith communities which affirm the Divinity of the Transgender experience. Unfortunately, Southern Comfort, along with other Trans-focused support groups and conferences ignore these issues of substance. Instead, Southern Comfort seems to cater to a less mature and more individualistic Transgender community with its focus on changing wardrobes, changing bodies, and investment in physical appearance. Granted, these things are important steps in the commitment to living as the opposite sex, but they are merely the first steps in a long, adventurous, and rewarding journey. It seems that Monica and I embrace a femininity which moves beyond the “Femininity 101” promoted by Southern Comfort. In short, Monica and I seek to embody a form of Motherhood which stands in contrast to the appearance-preoccupied femininity of many of our sisters.
Despite our disillusionment, Monica and I went to the hotel where Southern Comfort was being held to meet Dr. Jamison Green and treat him out to dinner. Jamison serves as the president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health holds a Ph.D. in Law and runs a firm dedicated to educating businesses about transgender, gay, and bisexual issues in the workplace. Through her activism, Monica has been in communication with Jamison for many years, while I connected with him immediately. As we are highly-educated trans-persons, Jamison and I could converse on a host of topics. He shared with me the difficulties he faced during his Ph.D. Thesis defense at Manchester Metropolitan University in Great Britain. Doctoral thesis defense in a British university is a more traditional, debate-like, stressful affair than thesis defense in U.S. universities. I also shared with Jamison my faith in the Divine Feminine along with my sense of spiritual homelessness here in the Bible belt. Jamison is quite open to Goddess-faith and has close friends around his San Francisco Bay Area home who practice a Goddess-centered faith. I also shared with him my sense of calling to reach out to the homeless trans-women of Atlanta who are often forced into sex-work. He was quite encouraging, relating how outreach and community activism are important to many of his fellow female-to-male Transgender friends. He also related how male-to-female Transgender people unfortunately tend to be less engaged in activism, outreach, or faith communities. Moreover, he observed that the immature, appearance-focused programming of Southern Comfort is characteristic of “mainstream” Transgender conferences. While I do not doubt that the Goddess as Cybele embodies herself in trans-women just as She did in ancient times, it is apparent that She also calls to trans-men. Given the maturity and spirit of civic service demonstrated by Dr. Jamison, trans-men seem more open to listening to the Divine Feminine than thier female counterparts. Thus Dr. Jamison demonstrates how to mature beyond the first steps of gender change and accomplish amazing things!