The conference “Trans dialogues on work, life and resistance” is part of a wider effort to create alternative public spaces to learn about the realities of being trans and construct new understandings of trans politics.
The conference is built around the notions of work, life and resistance because of the openness of their meanings in the hope that they can sustain a space for encounter across differences. These differences imply those between people whose gender mostly inhabits the space of social congruence and legibility and those whose gender doesn’t. But it also implies the differences between trans people.
On Work, Life and Resistance
The notion of work reminds us that the circumstances of human life are not mere destiny but reflect particular power relations and social struggles. Within the context of a racialized global capitalism, “work” encapsulates the link between survival and access to some form of income. Trans lives unfold in global inequalities captured by the economic situation of the countries in which they might (or not) be granted some form of citizenship. As a stigmatized minority, trans people are marginalized or excluded in families, education institutions, social services, healthcare systems and employment. Centering work means to look at interlocking structures of dispossession and their impact on differently situated trans bodies.
The term “life” names the accounts of the experiences of trans people, from birth to the often premature death, shared through testimonies or registered in statistics. But “life” reclaims a second meaning: life as the vision of a good life, a life that expresses the intrinsic value of human existence.
For trans communities, keeping the conviction of our worthiness in the face of the mistreatment by state institutions, cultural, religious and medical authorities, and our direct environment is an act of resistance. This resistance is present in nourishing meals, caring words, a defiant protest, a patient lecture, a stubborn appeal or a deadly weapon. Resistance represents a choice for trans life everywhere.
Trans politics from a global perspective
A global perspective for trans politics in the sense proposed can only emerge from naming and situating ourselves in relation to eurocentrism, (neo)colonialism and patriarchal and racialized capitalism as systems of world-scale inequality and violence. Therefore, in creating a space for a global understanding of trans politics, the tasks and costs of (un)learning and the privilege of speaking and being listened to can’t be distributed equally.
The conference centers the voices of those whose standpoints on the issues affecting trans lives are routinely treated as irrelevant, namely trans people themselves, and especially trans women of color from countries in the Global South. This decision is not a mere quantitative redistribution for all the times of being silenced. It is based on the crucial epistemic value of the voices of those who, by choice and circumstance, take on the work of fighting oppression at the frontline, that is, at the level of their daily existences.
As a space for listening and learning, the conference intends something else than offering resources to consume and accumulate information on “others”. It asks to reflect own views and experiences in relation to the multiple sites and forms of trans struggles, to uncover the existing connections between those sites and our own realities and to draw consequences for practical solidarity and transformative action.