Valentine's Day can be hard, even more so when your love life may not look like those around you.  We've put together some ideas on how you can make the day a little easier.  

By Sara (aka the leprechaun), Transcending Boundaries 2012 Director of Membership

 

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending the 24th Creating Change Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Creating Change is an annual conference on GLBT equality sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). This year’s had over 2,700 people.

I was initially afraid that since Creating Change was sponsored by a prominent national GLBT organization that it would be too “mainstream” and too focused on the “G” and the “L” in GLBT at the expense of the “B” and the “T” as is so often the case with large national organizations and events. I was surprised at the diversity of the workshops offered and amount of overlap with issues we cover at Transcending Boundaries. I was only able to attend for one day but attended four workshops including one on queer parenting options, one on bisexual health disparities, and one on organizing pro-equality Catholics.

Among the other 350 workshop and training sessions offered were workshops on GLBT immigration issues, same-sex marriage, polyamory, and the status of organizing efforts on Maryland’s anti-transgendered discrimination bill. In short, there was something for everyone. There were hundreds of exhibitors and art and entertainment options. Participants also heard from prominent pro-GLBT politicians and leaders such as Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey, and artist and activist Wilson Cruz.

 

 

Finally, there was plenty of time to network which allowed me to handout 200 TBC 2012 flyers and exchange business cards with several potential speakers and attendees. I was particularly impressed with how Creating Change treated issues of class, race, and religion.

 

 

This video from artist and activist Wilson Cruz sums up nicely the awesomeness of Creating Change.

 

 

I hope to bring insights back from my Creating Change to help enrich this year’s TBC at the end of October!

 

Creating Change 2013 will be in Atlanta from January 23rd to 27th, 2013.

Bella KalderaBella Kaldera

Bella Kaldera is a transwoman and Constable of Hubbardston, Massachusetts. She transitioned in 1987, and completed her surgery in 2010. In addition to serving as Constable, she practices martial arts, studies military history, and contributes to her family's working farm. She sat down to talk to TBC about her experiences growing up trans in a time when it wasn't as accepted as today, as well as serving in the Air Force.

 

On January 8th, 2012 we held our monthly organizers meeting. Although this meeting was slightly smaller than the last, with 6 people attending in person and another 10 through Skype, it was still very lively and involved.

After getting settled with Skype (and enjoying some freshly made bread), Ian led the meeting.

First up was an update on the Departments. The Departments have worked up their plans and should be contacting their teams in the very near future to begin working on projects.

We had a tech update. We are using the Google for Nonprofits suite, but need the account to be fully approved before we can fully switch over to it. We will also be focusing on updating our email lists this month so we can start contacting the correct people as needed.

The primary focus on the meeting was to discuss a proposed budget for the 2012 conference. Although some of our costs are firm, such as the facility rental, others are not known, and need to be estimated based on what we have spent in the past and our projected growth. Similarly, our income, which is primarily from registrations and sponsorships, is not precisely known, and must be estimated. We discussed what each department would need to spend money on, and where potential sources of income were. This was the largest portion of the meeting, but finished with a proposed budget for the year, which can be compared to our actual costs and income as we progress.

Micah then announced his final task as Operations Director, as in 2012 he will be leading the Investments Team. We are proud to announce a location and date for the 2012 Transcending Boundaries Conference! We will be back at the Mass Mutual Center, October Friday 26 through Sunday 28, 2012. We hope to announce this year's keynote speaker in the very near future.

We also planned our promotions schedule for the next several weeks. Transcending Boundaries Staff will be on panels and attending Arisia, a Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Although this may seem like a strange place to promote, Arisia has a wealth of panels that focus on topics of gender, sexuality and relationships both in relation to fandom and not. Leprechaun will be taking fliers to Creating Change in Baltimore, Maryland, which is the National Conference on LGBT equality. In early February TBC will have a table at the New England Leather Alliance's Fetish Fair Fleamarket. Lastly, several staff members will be at Wicked Faire, and hope to distribute fliers as well.

If you will be at an event and would like to help us spread the word about the 2012 conference, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The media kit will be online soon.

Because the second Sunday of the month overlaps with the Fetish Fair Fleamarket, where we will be tabling, the February Organizer's meeting was moved to the week earlier, February 5th. It will be 1-3 PM, at a private residence in Springfield, MA. Meeting participants are welcome to stay after for a Superbowl party.

This upcoming weekend is Arisia '12, which is billed as "New England's largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention".  Transcending Boundaries will have a table in the community space, as well as many TBC volunteers and presenters attending and participating in panels. We will let folks know over Twitter when we are at the table, so please come by and say hi during the weekend! 

An outsider to the sci-fi/fantasy community might think sci-fi conventions like Arisia are all about Star Wars and Star Trek, but the convention covers a lot more than just movies and television.  Arisia includes some topics you might expect, such as comics, anime and writing, but also some you may not, such as music, science and crafting.  There is also a communities track, which includes topics relating to gender, polyamory and BDSM. There is actually a large crossover between the Transcending Boundaries and Arisia audiences.


Some panels are about how gender, sexuality or relationships are expressed in sci-fi or fantasy.   Poly in Sci-Fi will be discussing how different forms of ethical non-monogamy is portrayed in various authors work.  Since so much of science fiction is about creating new worlds, the traditional relationship models can change as much as the technology.   Race, Gender & Disability Politics in Comics will look at how politics are reflected in comics and their creators.   Gender Limitations in SF/F will look at how the gender mold is or isn't being broken in the genre.  Sexuality and pleasure are sometimes lacking, in favor of a more stoic existence in Science Fiction which will be examined in SF vs the Body.  

 
Other panels during the weekend will focus on issues relating to gender, sexuality and relationships in fandom.  Self-Objectification and the Geeky Girl will discuss the geeky girl's sex appeal, and how it can shift if she's rocking jeans and a clever t-shirt or cosplaying the scantily clad heroine.  The Alternative Lifestyles and Fandom panel will look at why so many fans identify as queer, kinky or poly, and how cons can be inclusive of their needs and interests.  How gender is portrayed in video games and the gaming community, including several recent events, will be discussed in Gender and Video Games.  Other topics such as sexual assault and disability will also have panels on how they intersect with fandom, and how conventions can create safer spaces for all participants.  
 
Some of the panels featured at Arisia have very little to do with geek culture, but there is enough cross over in attendance to feature a slew of panels on other topics on different types of relationships and sexual identities.  There will be introductions to polyamory and BDSM, as well as a panel on how the idea of gender has changed over time, and what it may mean in the future.  More advanced panels include Non-Monogamy: A Diverse Set of OptionsGetting Started in the Public BDSM SceneBootblacking 101Religion and Kink and Building a Poly Home. There is even a panel on Being a Sex-Positive Parent.  
 

In past years many TBC staff and attendees have attended Arisia, and found it a safe, welcoming community for all its attendees.  There is a full gaming schedule, a long list of movies and television show screenings, and a memorial filk (a sort of folk music with a sci-fi/fantasy twist) for Alice Washburn, better known as Badger.   This year several TBC staff and previous presenters will be speaking on panels, or just attending the con, and we hope to see some of you there.


The hotel for the con is sold out, and the Turtle Track (childcare for children 2-6) is also sold out.  Full memberships for the convention, however, are still available, for $60 or $25 for students 13 to 25 with a valid school id.  Day passes are also available at the door, and vary from $10 on Monday to $40 on Saturday.  

 

For more information and a full schedule, please go to http://2012.arisia.org.

It is our sad duty to report the passing of a friend and regular attendee of TBC. 

Alice Washburn, known affectionately as Badger, passed away on December 26, 2011. Badger, an attendee of both the 2009 and 2010 TBCs, got around on her scooter with her friend (and personal friend of many members of the staff), Larry Nelson. Badger missed this year's event due to illness. She had been hospitalized for several weeks prior to her passing.

The staff of Transcending Boundaries want to extend our condolences to Badger's friends and family. Her wonderful attitude and easy smile were always a joy to see, and she was definitely missed at this past year's conference. 

In addition to TBC, Badger was a vibrant member of many other communities, including science fiction fandom and "filking" (an irreverent style of folk music heavily based on science fiction and fantasy themes). A memorial service  for Badger is planned for Friday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. at the MIT Chapel in Cambridge, with reception to follow at the nearby Student Center. That day is also the first day of Arisia, the largest science fiction convention in New England, and a memorial filk sing-along in her honor is in the works.

Donations in Badger's memory can be made to the Carl Brandon Society, an organization dedicated to "addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror... to foster dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raise awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promote inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror."

On a personal note, Larry is a long-time friend mine, and I met Badger through him at Arisia a number of years ago. I cannot imagine going to Arisia (or any other science fiction convention in the northeast, for that matter) and not seeing her there. Her absence will be noted for many years to come. 

Peace be with you, Badger. You will be missed.

Micah

The staff of Transcending Boundaries wants to wish you a Happy New Year! We hope your holidays were wonderful, wherever and however you celebrated them. Over the holiday season, we received the following story from one of our attendees, who graciously gave us permission to share it on our blog. If everyone's coming out story were this positive, the world would be a much happier place. 

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Meeting the "Out-Laws"

We all know that the holidays can be perilous for those who identify as "other than normal."  I went into this season with quite a bit of trepidation. We (my family of choice, which consists of three adults) took an enormous leap of faith. We invited my mother, my husband's parents, and my partner's parents all to the same dinner table for the first time.

Choosing to live as a family, the three of us, has had mixed reactions from those who don't know us as well, and that includes all of our biological family members.  This year, we made the choice to finally come out to my in-laws.  They really didn't know what to make of the information, and though they want to be clear that they love us, it wasn't certain how much of our news they were actually processing and accepting.

So imagine our surprise when, after some very awkward introductions, my in-laws and my partner's parents (the "out-laws", as we call them) discovered that not only should political conversations NOT be avoided at our dinner table, they actively had huge swaths of political common ground.  This may have been the first family dinner at which we

actively ENCOURAGED politics and religion to be the topics.  By the end of the meal, the mother-in-law and "mother-out-law" were trading email addresses and cheerfully hugging each other farewell.

I just want to encourage everyone with this story.  I never would've expected to have such a positive experience, but apparently, it can happen.

I wish happy holidays to everyone.  This has certainly made mine fabulous.  :)

Happy New Year!  May 2012 bring you happiness, heath, and all your wishes.

If your New Year's Resolutions included getting involved with a volunteer organization, spending more time in your community, or even making some new friends, consider joining us on January 8th, for our next organizer's meeting.  

We'll be meeting at 2PM in Wethersfield, CT, at a private residence.  You can email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the address.  We'll also be using Skype for those who cannot attend in person, but still want to participate.  We wrote a little about what to expect at a meeting back in December, if you are nervous.  We are a very friendly group, and would love for you to join us!  If you can't make the meeting, but still would like to be involved, join our Organizer's Email List.  We keep minutes of the meetings on Google Docs, so you can still be a part of things even outside the meetings.  

This month we will be discussing the date and location for the 2012 conference, and hopefully have it finalized.  Department heads will be proposing their plans and recruiting volunteers for specific components, so if you want to find a project, large or small, this is a great time to get started.   Lastly, we hope to discuss the proposed operating budget for the conference, so we can set targets for fundraising, attendance and costs.  

We hope you can join us!  

Overwhelmed by the Awesome, by Melissa

This year I participated in my first Project For Awesome. The Project For Awesome  (p4a) is a sort of crowd sourced You Tube telethon conceived of by the vlogbrothers (www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers) in 2007.  Once a year, on December 17, members of the community surrounding the vlogbrothers (collectively known as "nerdfighters") post hundreds of videos to youtube in which they promote a cause, charity or non-profit organization they feel is important. Then all the nerdfighters spend hours on youtube watching these videos, commenting on them, liking them and favoring them so that by the end of the 24 hour project, the entire "most liked" or "most viewed" page on youtube contains nothing but videos about worthwhile causes. In addition, people can donate to a large cash pool on the project home page and then vote for where they think the money should go. Of course folks are also encouraged to go to the websites of whatever causes they find interesting and donate directly.

Myself and three other TBC organizers (Jenn, Dani and Jawn) filmed a video talking about our work with the conference, why we love it so much and what it needs to grow. It went up on my youtube channel on p4a day and I spent the next 10 or so hours watching amazing videos about great charities and hilarious live shows where various youtube celebrities did increasingly embarrassing tasks as the amount of money raised went up. I was able to get our video featured on two prominent nerdfighter tumblrs but unfortunately, it did not get featured on the live show. Currently the video has 97 views which is less than I had hoped for, but the comments are overwhelmingly positive and those people who did see it promised to spread the word. I was also thrilled to see tons of support for The Trevor Project, FKH8 and Scarleteen. Probably the most exciting moment for me was reading a comment from someone in Philadelphia who said that she had heard good things about us from other local folks. Our message really is spreading!

If you'd like to see the video, its still up on my youtube channel at http://youtu.be/2Scb--9KN-U

On December 11th, 2011, we will be hosting our 2011 Wrap-up session and first official 2012 organizers meeting.  The meeting will be held 2PM EST, in Springfield, MA at a private residence (please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for address and directions) as well as over a Skype conference call, so you can attend from anywhere with your phone or computer.

If you've never been to an organizer meeting before, it might sound intimidating, but we promise we are a friendly bunch, and welcome anyone who wants to be involved in the event.  Here is what you can expect for a typical meeting.

About a week before the meeting the chair or an assistant will solicit agenda items over the organizer's email list (you can join here).  If you have a specific idea or topic you'd like to talk about, this is a great chance to make sure it gets mentioned.

The day of or a day before, depending on schedules a rough agenda is sent out over the list via Google Docs.  Any additional agenda items can be added by folks as necessary.

Our meetings are very casual and friendly.  We suggest bringing a pen and paper to take notes or a laptop (wireless is usually available) if you are attending in person.  Beverages and snacks are usually available, but if you'd like something specific, it's always nice to bring something to share.

Shortly before the meeting, we'll begin the Skype conference call, and usually there is a bit of friendly chatter before we actually get settled and begin the meeting.  Don't worry if you're running late or need to leave early, things are informal, and we can move agenda items around to work with your schedule.

We begin with introductions if new folks are in attendance, and a check in.  Then we usually go through the agenda, with one or two people taking the official minutes on a Google Doc.  This means that you can follow along if you're using a computer or look things up later.  The meetings usually go in a similar order, by department.  Everyone is encouraged to participate in the discussions, ask questions and give suggestions.

At the end of the meeting, any other open issues are taken care of and we plan the next meeting, trying to keep a regular schedule of second Sundays each month.  Additional committee meetings sometimes are scheduled for other days.

Depending on where we are in the planning process, meetings typically run for 1-2 hours.  The December meeting will likely run longer, because it is essentially two meetings in one.  Often after a meeting, smaller groups will get together for a short time to meet or work on a project.

After the meeting, minutes are sent out via email, so you can reference them and see what happened if you were unable to attend.

The organizer meetings are a great way to meet other folks and experience the TBC community year round.  We have a lot of fun and many of us have developed wonderful friendships because of our involvement.  If you're on the fence, join us for a meeting and observe.  We think you'll want to join us again.  Even if it's just for the baked goods that are often involved!

Happy New Year folks!

We at Transcending Boundaries are pleased to announce that our 2009 conference was a resounding success, and planning for TBC 2010 is underway. The Transcending Boundaries Conference focuses on the bisexual/pansexual, trans/genderqueer, intersex and polyamorous communities, as well as others who don't fit society's either/or labels.

Our first planning meeting takes place Wednesday, January 20th at 7 pm in Wethersfield, CT. Anyone interested in helping to plan the conference is welcome to attend; please RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for directions. If you're interested in helping but cannot attend the meeting, please contact us as well and let us know your interest. Remember, TBC is a community-based and volunteer-run conference - we need help from all corners of the queer community to make 2010 happen! 

Also keep your eyes peeled for more Transcending Boundaries activities besides conference planning! We have a new Board of Directors hoping to bring some of that conference energy back into the community at large. 

Wishing you a bright new year,

Transcending Boundaries.