Vegan definitions and retention

[Image: Pax pets Shiva, a steer at PreetiRang Sanctuary. Photo by Ziggy.]

When I talk with non-vegans about veganism, one of the first questions they often ask me is “How long have you been vegan?” This is a well-meaning question, and some folks can answer it readily. Some went vegan instantly, perhaps after seeing a documentary like Earthlings. They might even celebrate the date on a “veganniversary” every year. A few, like Olympic athlete and activist Seba Johnson, have been vegan since birth.

But this question is somewhat harder for me to answer, and troubles me for a few reasons. Nowadays I often begin my response with, “It depends on your definition of vegan.” With a single, regrettable exception, which I’ll explain shortly, I stopped eating all dairy products and eggs for good in February 2011, having already stopped eating animal flesh in January 1992. I’d been trying to “go vegan” for that entire time, and referred to myself as vegan during the times when I avoided eating animal flesh, eggs, and dairy.  But even after 2011, I continued to occasionally eat honey and wear some clothing containing wool, silk, or leather. I also occasionally visited zoos, and participated in animal exploitation in other ways.

In July 2014, when I read more about animal rights philosophy and decided to become an activist, I stopped using honey and other bee products, stopped wearing my remaining articles of animal-derived clothing, and made a commitment to stop visiting zoos and otherwise reduce my participation in animal exploitation as much as possible. I felt this was consistent with the Vegan Society definition of veganism:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

That “any other purpose” is a very broad area, however, and that’s where some vegans start getting into battles over purity. Some will insist that palm oil isn’t vegan because its production destroys the habitat of orangutans, for example. On the flip side, some others who call themselves vegan see no problem eating the dairy, eggs, or even flesh of so-called “humanely” raised animals, or they consider eating fishes or other aquatic animals to be consistent with veganism.

I will not advocate for vegetarianism, “reduceitarianism”, “humane” or “sustainable” animal products , or any other choice that suggests it is OK to treat animals as property. But I’m much more troubled by people putting cow’s milk in their coffee than by them sweetening their tea with honey. And I’m much more bothered by the consumption of eggs, even from backyard farms, than by the wearing of an old wool jacket or leather shoes that haven’t worn out yet.

It’s important to note that impact matters regardless of intent. I don’t condone even occasional consumption of animal products if doing so is avoidable. The one regrettable exception I mentioned was at a wedding reception in July 2012, when I knowingly and avoidably ate a cupcake and some candy that almost certainly contained dairy products, and possibly eggs as well. I had no excuse; I was just hungry and gave into temptation. My guilt or remorse is irrelevant to the cows whose bodies were violated for my momentary pleasure. That milk was meant for their children—like Shiva, pictured at the top of this post—not for me. I have not knowingly consumed any milk or eggs since that date.

But while I believe the body autonomy and personhood of our fellow animals should be the primary focus of veganism, we cannot completely discount or ignore the human stories of how and why each of us became vegan. It’s just oversimplification to state how long one has been vegan without giving any additional context. In the 24 years since I went vegetarian, I have had no financial, medical, or practical obstacles to going vegan. I’ve lived in the vegan-friendly San Francisco Bay Area for almost that entire time, and have had ready access to grocery stores and a full kitchen, adequate money and cooking skills. These are privileges that should not be taken for granted.

While it is important to acknowledge—and do something about—social inequity, I do believe that the obstacles to veganism are often overstated, especially when it comes to health. Powerful agricultural lobbies have pressured the government to convince US-Americans that we will die or suffer poor health without eating at least some animal products. Cow’s milk is promoted as essential for strong bones, even though the majority of people on Earth cannot digest lactose after infancy. It’s no wonder some ask how long we’ve been vegan, when they’ve been brought up with the expectation that we’ll literally fall apart if we don’t  consume the bodies and secretions of our fellow animals.

The truth is, regardless of how “easy” it may or may not be to live vegan, many people find it extremely tempting to return to non-veganism, especially if they see it as merely a dietary choice. Some say that ex-vegans were never really vegan to begin with, but I don’t think that is an accurate or helpful statement. We need to find more ways to support, encourage, and retain vegans, while still making sure to emphasize the stories of our fellow animals. Once we achieve animal liberation, the word vegan and the concept of “veganniversaries” will be things of the past. But we’re a long way from getting there.

Making connections at WikiConference North America

[Image: A hanging banner with the Wikipedia globe logo and the words “Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia”.]

This past weekend, Ziggy and I attended WikiConference North America 2016 in San Diego. As I wrote previously, my abstract for a presentation on “The Transgender Gap: Trans and non-binary representation on Wikipedia” was approved, and I also received a scholarship to cover part of my travel expenses.

Pax and other presenters at WikiConference[Image: Pax speaks at a podium while fellow presenters Jami Mathewson and Wynnie Lamour look on. Photo by Ziggy.]

Katherine Maher at WikiConference[Image: Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher speaks at a podium.]

While I was nervous about how my talk would be received by this audience, the reception far exceeded my expectations. Numerous attendees came up to me throughout the conference, thanking me for my presentation. Those thanking me included Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher, who posted about my talk on Twitter. Another attendee said that he’d be updating the software of a web site he manages for thousands of people, based on my recommendations for more accurately representing gender diversity.

Pax and Jethro[Image: Pax and Chris “Jethro” Schilling pose for a photo. Photo by Ziggy.]

Lane Rasberry at WikiConference[Image: Lane Rasberry moderates a discussion at the WikiConference.]

In addition to the positive feedback, I also enjoyed meeting a number of Wikipedians I’d only interacted with online, including Chris “Jethro” Schilling, Jake Orlowitz, Jason Moore, and Lane Rasberry. I was far more social than I expected to be, considering the stress of travel and the sleep deprivation from our noisy hotel room.

I attended a number of sessions at the event, and was impressed that the organizers made a sincere effort to represent diversity, at a deep rather than superficial level. “Inclusivity” was the theme of the conference, and several talks addressed gender and racial disparities, not only on Wikipedia but in society at large. Indigenous People’s Day occurred during the conference, and several talks (including a keynote) and an edit-a-thon centered on Native American history and culture.

Pax at San Diego Central Library[Image: Pax stands on a staircase inside the San Diego Central Library, under the words “We read to know we are not alone.” Photo by Ziggy.]

As welcome as I felt at the event, I was still marginalized by my trans status during the trip. The only gender-neutral restroom I saw at the conference facility (the beautiful San Diego Central Public Library) was a locked “family restroom” that required patrons to ask staff for access. (I used the men’s room.) The San Diego airport did have an all-gender restroom right across from my gate, but on the return trip both Ziggy and I were both misgendered and briefly detained by the TSA. The TSA staff at SFO had called me “Sir” and had a male agent pat down my legs, but in San Diego three agents stared at me until one of them pointed to their pink-and-blue monitor and said, right in front of my face, “It’s a female!” I responded, “Actually I’m male, but I don’t care who screens me.” (I just really, really wanted to get home.)

Regardless, I am glad I made this trip, and grateful that my concerns about transgender representation on Wikipedia are being heard and taken seriously. Ziggy is encouraging me to pursue paid public speaking gigs based on this and other talks I’ve given on transgender issues. I’m skeptical about doing these talks on a regular basis, as I dislike travel and strongly prefer writing over speaking. But I do agree that trans folks should be compensated for sharing our stories and expertise. (Here are some other things to keep in mind when booking a trans speaker or performer.)

My Transgender Gap talk is available on Google Slides (with notes) and as a PDF on Wikimedia Commons. A video should be available soon as well. My photos from the trip are available on Flickr; many are also on Wikimedia Commons, along with photos from other attendees. Please credit me (as Pax Ahimsa Gethen), Ziggy, or whatever other photographer is listed if you use any of the photos, thanks!

P.S. The second presidential debate was shown at the conference during a scheduled reception. I only watched part of it; the less said about it, the better. (Obligatory reminder of my independent political status.)


[Image: Self-portrait of Pax wearing glasses with red and black frames.]

Content note: Medical issues, including needles.

When I started on testosterone therapy in January 2014, my partner Ziggy and I were both trained to do the intramuscular injections. You can see the general procedure in this instructional video, created by and for transmasculine people:

I had intended for Ziggy to do my injections, but decided I preferred to do them myself; I felt confident enough in the technique, and had never been afraid of needles. This worked out pretty well… until yesterday.

This failure had been building up for awhile. For the last couple of months I’d grown increasingly anxious, starting the day before my biweekly injections, sometimes even sooner. When the time came, I would fill the syringe and then sit with the needle poised above my thigh, unwilling to pierce my skin and plunge that much-needed solution into my muscle.

I tried various techniques that had worked in the past, such as deep breathing and singing. But whenever I got ready to inject, my heart would pound and a wave of nausea would overtake me. This would go on for up to half an hour before I was finally able to inject, and then during the injection my hand would shake, sometimes violently, causing my thigh muscle to spasm and literally tearing me up inside.

Yesterday morning, I just couldn’t do it. The anxiety and nausea were too much. I threw out the syringe, wasting a dose, and sent Ziggy a text, asking him to help me when he got off work late that night. He readily agreed, and everything went very smoothly. But I felt sick and ashamed the entire day about needing help, as absurd and uncharacteristically “macho” as that might seem.

The nurse practitioner who trained us had warned me about this. She said some trans folks inject for years without a problem, and then find themselves unable to do it. Some won’t even consider injections in the first place; they use hormone creams, which are much more expensive, harder to control the dosage of, and need to be applied daily.

There are a couple of other options for testosterone therapy, which I’ll be asking my doctor about at my next appointment: Longer-lasting implants and injections, which need to be done at a doctor’s office.  I don’t know if either would be covered by my insurance, but it’s worth finding out. Even though I’m already middle-aged, right now I can’t imagine having to keep doing biweekly injections for the rest of my life. I’m growing increasingly resentful that I wasn’t born with the correct hormone profile in the first place.*

Stopping hormones altogether isn’t an option. For one thing, my body hasn’t sufficiently “masculinized” yet; I’ve been on T less than three years. But even more importantly, I’m pre-menopausal, and having my periods return is completely unacceptable. Yes, I still might have my uterus and ovaries removed, but surgery is a risky proposition, no matter how “routine” that procedure is considered. And I would still need to continue hormone therapy anyway, as my body would then be producing no sex hormones at all.

These thoughts are something that I would have shared in a “friends-only” entry before I launched this blog, but all of my blog writing is public now. I feel it’s important for transmasculine people—regardless of whether we are men or non-binary—to know that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s also important for us to be able to share knowledge, as the field of FTM medicine is still in its infancy, and most doctors are ignorant about our needs. I can only imagine that 50 years from now, trans guys will read about what we went through during this time, and shake their heads or laugh.

For those wanting a more private discussion forum, I’ve found the FTM community on LiveJournal to be helpful, even though it’s not highly active. Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide is very useful as well. Both have advice applicable to non-binary female-assigned people like myself as well as trans men.

I am grateful I have access to the medical help I need to live a more authentic life. I hope that the world comes to accept that gender dysphoria is a legitimate condition that needs to be taken seriously.

* It’s important to note that the “born in the wrong body” trope is not accurate for many trans people. What matters is our self-identification, regardless of our “biology“.

Some good news for non-binary folks

[Image: A sign with multiple gender symbols and the words “Inclusive restroom.”]

Here in the state of California, a couple of positive legal developments emerged recently that are of particular interest to people with non-binary gender identities like myself.

The first bit of good news is about restroom access. On September 29, Governor Jerry Brown signed what is known as the “All Gender” Restroom Bill, requiring single-occupancy restrooms to be accessible to people of all gender identities. This development is long overdue. While I’d personally prefer that all restrooms be gender-neutral, there is no reasonable argument for gendering single-occupancy facilities.

Opening up these restrooms will benefit not only non-binary people, but many others as well. Some examples: Binary trans people who do not “pass” as cisgender; cisgender people who are often misgendered due to their appearance (butch women, for example); and caretakers of people of a different gender (children, elderly, disabled) who require assistance to use a restroom.

While no one should be policed for using facilities that most closely match their gender identity, offering gender-neutral spaces provides an additional measure of safety and comfort. I look forward to a time when people in all states (and countries) realize that we all just need to pee.

The second bit of good news is about legal identification. On September 26, Sara Kelly Keenan became the second U.S. citizen and first California resident to obtain legal non-binary status. Keenan, who uses she/her pronouns and identifies as intersex “both as my medical reality and as my gender identification,” followed a precedent set in Oregon this June by Jamie Shupe, a non-binary transgender person. Keenan was represented by an attorney from the Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project, which is working to get non-binary adults the right to self-identify on legal documents.

A couple of things are important to note here. Most intersex people identify as male or female, not non-binary. Including intersex in the LGBTQIA or similar acronyms is controversial. Some intersex people want nothing to do with the trans liberation movement; they simply want to end nonconsensual infant surgeries and other damaging practices. Also, many non-binary people, including Jamie Shupe and myself, do not identify as genderqueer. (Shupe prefers not to be referred to with any pronouns, but will accept singular they.)

For Keenan, Shupe, and other non-binary people, there’s still a long way to go; it is not currently possible to get a non-binary driver’s license or passport in the U.S., for example. For this and other reasons, I will not be seeking to change my own legal identification from male to non-binary anytime soon. Even if I do ultimately gain legal recognition as agender, that won’t stop me from being misgendered constantly on the street. As with my birth certificate, a court order is a government-issued piece of paper that has limited use in an everyday context.

Regardless, these are positive developments, and a nice break from depressing election coverage. I look forward to more progress in non-binary gender recognition. Reminder: I will be speaking about trans and non-binary issues this weekend at WikiConference North America.

Welcoming gender diversity at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest

[Image: Pax speaks at a podium on a stage. Photo by Wayne Calhoon.]

Yesterday, I gave a keynote speech at the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival at Laney College in Oakland. As I blogged previously, this presentation was an updated and expanded version of the Welcoming Gender Diversity talk I gave at the Intersectional Justice Conference earlier this year. In this talk, I focused more on the intersections of race and gender, and promoted Black Vegans Rock. My presentation wasn’t filmed (to my knowledge), but the slides are available online.

Welcoming gender diversity[Image: A stage with an empty podium and screen showing the words “Welcoming gender diversity.”]

I was a bit intimidated when I entered the theater and saw hundreds of seats, as I hadn’t given a presentation of this nature to that large of an audience before. The festival was initially sold out (tickets were free but there were limits to venue capacity), but the day of the event it was re-opened to all. Unfortunately, only a couple dozen people watched me speak, but a number of attendees approached me afterward to thank me and ask for more information.

David Carter at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: David Carter speaks at a podium on a stage.]

The keynote speech of football player and vegan activist David Carter, aka The 300 Pound Vegan, followed mine, and had a much higher turnout. David and his wife Paige (who is also a photographer) spoke about vegan nutrition and systemic racism, among other topics.

Keith Tucker at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: Keith Tucker stands at a podium on a stage, in front of a screen containing the words “I went vegan”.]

Other speakers included lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project, Nassim Nobari of Seed the Commons, and Keith Tucker of Hip Hop is Green. A number of workshops and cooking demos (which I did not attend) were held simultaneously, and vendors served up tasty vegan food and other vegan-friendly products. I especially enjoyed a chocolate parfait from Sanctuary Bistro, which the owner assured me was not sourced from countries that enslave children on cocoa farms.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Presenting at WikiConference North America

[Image: Pete Forsyth and Pax speak about transgender issues at the Wikimedia Foundation. Photo by Ziggy.]

I’m pleased to announce that I will be presenting at the annual WikiConference North America, coming up October 7-10 in San Diego. My presentation, currently scheduled for October 8 at 1:30 p.m., is entitled “The Transgender Gap: Trans and non-binary representation on Wikipedia.”

As the abstract notes, I’ll be doing some basic gender education and discussing issues of particular relevance to trans people on Wikipedia, which I previously addressed at the inaugural Bay Area WikiSalon. From combating hate and ignorance and deadnaming to accurately surveying for gender, I’ll address challenges and best practices for improving trans coverage and making Wikipedia more welcoming to trans editors.

Registration is open, and free attendance (without lunch) is available for volunteers. I received a partial scholarship to cover my travel expenses, for which I’m grateful, especially as Ziggy will be coming with me. Traveling while trans is stressful, and though I’ve visited San Diego many times, I haven’t been there since years before my transition, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping to have a good time in addition to learning and sharing information with fellow Wikipedians.

Cow-Con: Cowspiracy, sustainability, and activism

[Image: Overhead view of the main exhibitor area at the Cowspiracy conference, David Brower Center, Berkeley.]

Yesterday I attended Cow-Con, a conference devoted to sustainability and vegan activism, from the makers of the Cowspiracy documentary. The packed event featured concurrent talks running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. without any formal break periods, followed by a panel discussion. I attended six of the the talks, and took some photos.

Kip Anderson at Cow-Con[Image: Kip Anderson speaks at the Cowspiracy conference.]

Keegan Kuhn at Cow-Con[Image: Keegan Kuhn speaks at the Cowspiracy conference.]

I’d first watched Cowspiracy at a screening in the fall of 2014, and enjoyed it so much that I went to a second screening and bought the DVD directly from the producers and directors, Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn. A new cut of the documentary, executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, was later released on Netflix; I have not (yet) watched that version.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau at Cow-Con[Image: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau speaks at the Cowspiracy conference.]

Mark Hawthorne at Cow-Con[Image: Mark Hawthorne speaks at the Cowspiracy conference.]

While Cowspiracy focused primarily on the environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture, I was pleased that most of the speakers I watched at the conference addressed the ethical aspects of veganism. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau talked about using compassion rather than aggression to be a more effective vegan activist. Mark Hawthorne gave a sobering picture of the dreadful harm inflicted upon animals raised for food, clothing, and entertainment. Marji Beach spoke movingly about the residents of Animal Place sanctuary.

Pax and lauren[Image: Pax stands with lauren Ornelas. Photo by Mark Hawthorne.]

But the main reason I attended this conference was to see my friend lauren Ornelas. I’ve written frequently about her great work with the Food Empowerment Project, and her activism not only for our fellow animals, but for humans marginalized by race, gender, class, and other factors. In her Cow-Con presentation, lauren talked about the F.E.P.’s work to help farm workers and to combat child labor and slavery in the chocolate industry. She also argued that because every animal values their own life, taking their bodies, babies, eggs, or milk from them is inherently unsustainable. (lauren and I will both be presenting at the Vegan Soul Wellness Fest this Saturday in Oakland.)

lauren was one of only a couple of people of color speaking at this conference. Since getting woke, I’ve become a lot more sensitive to racial dynamics in both online and offline spaces, especially in the “animal whites movement“. Cow-Con felt like a white-centered event to me, not just in optics (as we must be wary of purely cosmetic diversity) but in tone as well.

One example: In the opening talk by Cowspiracy star and co-producer/director Kip Anderson, he stated that just being vegan isn’t being an activist. He said that Leonardo DiCaprio, who is not vegan, has done more a lot more to help animals than vegans who just sit home on the couch and do nothing.

This activist-shaming rubbed me the wrong way, especially coming from one able-bodied, cisgender white man in reference to another such man who is also an A-list celebrity. I explained in “Dear marginalized vegans” why it is harmful to pressure vegans into “doing something” for the animals without recognizing the challenges they might face in their daily lives.

I’m not saying that Kip is racist; though some argue that all white folks are racist, all men are sexist, all humans are speciesist, etc., that’s not my point here. I just want activists to acknowledge their privileges and not shame other vegans. Simply committing to unwavering veganism, and not being apologetic about it, is advocacy as far as I’m concerned; whether “advocacy” qualifies as “activism” is a matter of semantics, and ultimately a divisive debate.

As I’m still dealing with depression and dysphoria and staying home most of the time, I was overwhelmed by the crowds at this conference, and left before the final panel discussion (which consisted of four white men). Regardless, I’m glad to have spent a few hours in an all-vegan space, and glad the event was sold-out and had many attendees from outside of the already vegan-friendly San Francisco Bay Area.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures (there were at least two official photographers present anyway), but I’ve posted my full set of photos to Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Presenting at Vegan Soul Wellness Festival

[Image: A poster reading (in part): “Welcoming Gender Diversity – An open conversation with keynote speaker Pax Ahimsa Gethen”]

On September 24, I’ll be one of the keynote speakers at the Vegan Soul Wellness festival in Oakland. I’ll be presenting an updated and expanded version of the talk I gave at the Intersectional Justice Conference earlier this year: Welcoming Gender Diversity: Trans, non-binary, and intersex inclusion in activist spaces. I’ll be representing Black Vegans Rock and discussing the intersections of racism and cissexism as part of my talk.

The other keynote speakers are David Carter, aka The 300 Pound Vegan, and his wife, photographer and activist Paige Carter. The festival will include workshops, cooking demos, food vendors, and more. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, come check it out!

ETA: My talk is currently scheduled for noon. The final schedule should be posted closer to the date of the event.

Rock Against The TPP

[Image: A vocalist from Taína Asili’s band stands on an indoor stage in front of a banner reading Rock Against the TPP.]

Friday night I attended Rock Against the TPP, a rally and concert in San Francisco to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP deal was so secretive and problematic that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jill Stein are all against it, which is likely one of very few things those presidential candidates all agree on. You can read more about the issues and see upcoming tour dates for the concert on the Rock Against the TPP web site.

Evan Greer at Rock Against the TPP[Image: Evan Greer stands on an indoor stage, holding up a sign reading Rock Against the TPP.]

I learned about this event from Evan Greer, a trans activist who is frequently misgendered; I’d previously signed her petition calling for news editors to confirm the gender pronouns of their sources. Greer was even misgendered on stage at this concert that she co-produced (and also performed in), which was painful to witness.

Bonfire Madigan at Rock Against the TPP[Image: Madigan Shive of Bonfire Madigan plays cello on an indoor stage.]

Sellassie at Rock Against the TPP[Image: Sellassie stands on an indoor stage.]

Accordion player at Rock Against the TPP[Image: A member of the band La Santa Cecilia plays accordion on an indoor stage.]

Dead Prez at Rock Against the TPP[Image: The hip hop duo Dead Prez performs on an indoor stage.]

Besides Greer, speakers and performers included Raw-G, Ryan Harvey, Built for the Sea, Bell’s Roar, Sellassie, Bonfire Madigan, Jello Biafra, La Santa Cecilia, Jeff Rosenstock, Taína AsiliAudiopharmacy, and Dead Prez (featuring black vegan Stic Man). Quite a variety of musical styles were represented.

The musicians and other speakers talked about a number of social justice issues besides the TPP, including the Dakota Access Pipeline, racist police violence (hip hop artist Sellassie was one of the Frisco Five who helped oust police chief Greg Suhr), and access to healthy food and medical care. The crowd, which filled the Regency Ballroom, was engaged and energetic.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Honoring our trans elders from Compton’s

[Image: Dolores “Dee Dee” Yubeta, a regular at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, smiles while holding a mic on an outdoor stage. Rainbow pride and American flags fly behind her.]

Yesterday I headed to the Tenderloin in San Francisco to attend a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, an uprising against police harassment that predated the Stonewall Riots by three years. This event was created by Felicia “Flames” Elizondo, a trans Latina activist who frequented Compton’s and was present at the riot; she also gave yesterday’s keynote address. I recognized her and several of the other organizers and speakers from other trans-focused events I’d attended in the past year, including the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Transgender Day of Visibility, Tranform California, and the Trans March.

Felicia "Flames" Elizondo[Image: Felicia “Flames” Elizondo speaks into a mic on an outdoor stage. A rainbow flag is in the background.]

Lyle J. Beckman[Image: Lyle J. Beckman of the San Francisco Night Ministry speaks into a mic on an outdoor stage. A Spanish translator provides interpretation.]

While this event was focused primarily on our elders in the trans liberation movement—trans women of color in particular—a variety of speakers and performers were included. Dani Castro and Akira Jackson served as emcees. The event opened with Lyle J. Beckman of the San Francisco Night Ministry. Ronnie Lynn, a popular female impersonator in the 1960s and a close friend of Felicia’s, also spoke.

Activist Mia “Tu Mutch” Satya called for everyone to work for black liberation alongside trans liberation. Other speakers included Compton’s Cafeteria regular Dolores “Dee Dee” Yubeta (pictured at the top of this post), trans pioneer Veronika Fimbres, and trans elder Jasmine Jubillee Gee.  ASL and Spanish interpretation were provided for all speakers.

Singers of the Street[Image: Singers of the Street perform on an outdoor stage, with Jasmine Gee on clarinet.]

Sheena Rose[Image: Drag queen Sheena Rose performs on an outdoor stage.]

Musical performances included Singers of the Street, with Jasmine Gee on clarinet. Drag queens Sheena Rose and Donna Personna also performed.

Felicia "Flames" Elizondo with cake[Image: Felicia “Flames” Elizondo smiles while holding a cake with a “Screaming Queens” logo and picture.]

Gwen Park and Dani Castro with proclamation[Image: Organizers Gwen Park and Dani Castro hold a framed certificate from state senator Mark Leno.]

This community event was mercifully free of political speeches. Politicians were represented only in the form of a resolution honoring the event from state senator Mark Leno, a brief appearance by mayoral advisor Theresa Sparks, and commendations given to trans elders from the board of supervisors.

My full set of photos is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

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