For ages, political leaders have used summits as tools for diplomacy and peacemaking. More recently, community leaders have employed summits for civic and social change. Organizers of the July 29-31 Kansas City Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) Summit hope to use the format to find and train leaders for their community, particularly people of color and youth.
One reason for identifying leadership in the local TGNC community is to combat violence. In less than a year’s time, three TGNC people of color were murdered in Kansas City. In late 2014, Dionte Greene was shot to death and left in his car. Jasmine Collins was stabbed to death near the downtown airport in June 2015. And two months later, Tamara Domínguez was killed when a large vehicle ran over her repeatedly.
The lack of justice surrounding these crimes has left local TGNC folks feeling isolated, unsafe and looking for leadership from within. They feel there’s racism within the larger Kansas City LGBTQ community, as well. The May 1, 2016, murder in Wichita of Reese Walker, a black transgender female, added urgency to this search.
Randall Jenson, director at SocialScope Productions – the main sponsor of the summit – recognized the need for local TGNC people of color to come together.
Jenson worked at the Kansas City Ant-Violence Project at the time of the first three homicides. He also works with local LGBTQ youth and has seen an increase in young people identifying as TGNC, compared to years past. These experiences led Jenson to the idea of hosting a summit exclusively for TGNC people of color and TGNC youth (roughly 14 to 24 years of age). He sought other sponsors and secured grant money to make it happen.
People who wanted to attend or present at the free, three-day event wrote applications. Those accepted will be meeting at Brush Creek Community Center, 3801 Brush Creek Blvd., in Kansas City, Mo.
Crispin Torres, community educator at Lambda Legal’s Midwest regional office, will deliver the keynote address. His presentation will be “Confronting Toxic Masculinity: Making Space for Trans Feminine Folks and Keeping Ourselves Safe.” Torres plans to continue the TGNC Latinx conversation, especially considering the death of Tamara Domínguez and the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, and help Kansas City TGNC people figure out how to build a community.
Topics for the summit’s workshops and seminars will include:
- Getting into Formation
- Cooking with Korea
- Makeup: Day Fish to Night Fish
- Resisting Police Violence
- Trans Folx in the Hood
- Black Trans Excellence
- Trans Media Literacy
- Drag 101 Workshop
- Navigating Public Spaces
- Real Talk with the Girls
On the summit’s second day, Saturday, July 30, there will be a time set aside for community groups to offer information and literature to attendees, and the day will close with a catered dinner and social.
Organizers hope that the summit can start the process creating of a more permanent connectedness within the local TGNC community. Combating violence, police abuse, and white and cis privilege are goals, as well as fostering mutual healing, providing respected safe spaces and building real-life skills for navigating Kansas City communities and the professional world.
Reese’s Clothing Closet
Reese Walker’s mother, Shari Walker, will be on hand at the summit to give away clothes that belonged to her daughter. She wants to share Reese’s legacy of generosity and of being one’s authentic self.
To see a video of Shari Walker talking about the clothing giveaway and to get more information on the Kansas City TGNC Summit, visit trans.report/kcsummit/.
Youth Support Group has started
Jenson received a 2016 Rocket Grant from the Charlotte Street Foundation for an online video project by his SocialScope Productions. The video healing project will put the voices of Kansas City’s TGNC youth at the forefront. A disproportionate number of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and Jenson saw the emotional need for adult models and peer support among TGNC youth.
As a result, a TGNC Youth Social and Support Group has started meeting on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at reStart, 1444 E. Eighth St., Kansas City, Mo. It is for TGNC-identified youth 21 years and younger. An ad hoc parents’ group meets in a separate space at the same time that the youth group is meeting.
Also, keep an eye out for something new from SocialScope involving LGBTQ youth mental health.
TGNC Youth Social and Support Group: trans.report/tgncyouth/