Tobi Hill-Meyer

Reportback from MEChA's National Conference

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | March 23, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Celia Herrera Rodriguez, DREAM Act, immigration, intersectionality, La Jotera, MEChA

I spent this last weekend at the national MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) conference which was held in my home town of Eugene. The theme celebrating MEChA's 40th anniversary was Retomando la Historia Desplazada de la Mujer, Reclaiming Displaced Herstory, and I was excited to discover how much of an emphasize was on LGB and specifically trans issues.

The day before the conference I headed down to campus to pick up a program from the MEChA office, and was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of white students from the LGBT student union hanging out in the office. I can't recall that happening back when I was a student. Then I realized - of course they're over here, there is a workshop track on trans inclusion, they've got to be working together.

It's this kind of intersectional focus that really warms my heart.

I've spent so much time in identity based groups that only focused on their identity and allowed other forms of oppression to flourish in their midst. As someone dealing with multiple forms of oppression I've had to pick and choose what parts of me I wanted support for. That's not over with, but it's moments like these that I can see an alternative. Here are a few of the highlights:


  • The program included information on etiquette to support trans attendees, know your rights info around law enforcement, definitions and discussion of issues ranging from ableism to misogyny to colonialism to homophobia.

  • The first day was kicked off by Celia Herrera Rodríguez, who talked about family, community, and the importance of addressing homophobia.

  • Later in that day there was a rally at the federal building where 600 of us, including several local groups, demanded that Congressman Defazio support and prioritize Safe, Humane and Fair Immigration Reform as well as the Dream Act.

  • There were breakout sessions where everyone at the conference discussed the experiences of women immigrants and strategies for trans inclusion. In my group, we discussed the specific experiences of trans women immigrants.

  • There were readings from several contributors to La Jotera, a magazine published by the University of Oregon MEChA of poetry, stories, and artwork of LGBT people of color and allies of color.

  • There were over 100 workshops covering many progressive topics. I presented a workshop titled "Examining Transmisogyny" and my partner Ronan and I presented one together titled "Not Fantasies, Not Victims: Sex Worker Realities."

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It's great to hear that the conference was so inclusive!