Paige Schilt

My Family Gender Odyssey

Filed By Paige Schilt | September 23, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Gender Odyssey, Gender Spectrum, transgender families, transgender parent

Lesbian and gay family events are not always comfortable spaces for me and my fam.

That's partly because some folks don't know what to make of my genderqueer sweetie, with her man-chest and her female pronouns. It's partly because the "same-gender parenting" paradigm may or may not describe us, depending on the situation, our moods, and the alignment of the planets. But it's mostly because there aren't always other trans parents and partners at gay family events, and the programming doesn't always reflect our interests and needs.

So I was ecstatic last year when I read the Gender Odyssey program and saw a workshop titled "Fierce Dyke Seen Doing Husband's Laundry." Here, finally, I would find folks whose passions and preoccupations were--if not exactly the same as mine--at least in the same neighborhood. While I processed with other partners about identity and inference, Katy found her niche in sessions like "What's the Rush?" where participants explored new paradigms and time-lines for transition.

But the most amazing thing about Gender Odyssey is that it's fun for the whole family--even the kids.

Last year was the first year that Gender Odyssey shared time and space with the Gender Spectrum Family conference for people raising gender variant children and transgender teens. The brilliant folks at Gender Odyssey and Gender Spectrum decided to organize a kids camp for children whose parents were attending either conference. Which means that, while I was sitting in the town hall meeting on Dyke/FTM Community Relations, my son, Waylon, was happily gluing googly eyes on a family of sock puppets.

This year, Katy and I proposed a workshop for parents. The conversations in our session were wide-ranging -- more often than not, the group's parenting concerns were not related to gender at all. But while the topics might have been similar in any parenting workshop, it was such a relief that we didn't have to explain our family or worry about other people's assumptions. Talking about child-rearing in that context, with other trans parents and partners, was like finding something I didn't really know I was missing.

Now I'm hooked. I can't wait for Gender Odyssey 2009, but I'm also interested in broadening my horizons. I hope readers will use the comment space below to suggest other trans family events or to plant the seeds for new ones.

P.S. This year at Gender Odyssey, Waylon made two stick puppets named "Sweetie" and "Smiley," who seem to have a penchant for scolding George Bush and John McCain in chirpy little voices. I just don't know where he gets that.

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Gender Odyssey is great! I got to go in 2006 and 2007

I want to see a video of Smiley and Sweetie in action. They sound great. :)

Great event! And child care is necessary to make those events successful!

Great article Paige. Where can I get some Waylon style stick puppets? I want to help with the scolding.

Interesting topic, Paige.

Tell Waylon that Sweetie and Smiley are doing a great job!!!!