This past weekend, we traveled down to Philadelphia to host a workshop called Interdepending: Trans*Buddhist Activism and Experience at the Philadelphia Trans*Health Conference (PTHC). Each year, PTHC is a space for thousands of trans* people and our families, friends, allies, and health care providers to come together to share experiences and information related to wellness in trans* communities.
We are thrilled to report that the workshop was a great success, thanks to all the folks who attended!
There was a brief guided meditation, followed by an introduction to our project, and a group exercise where participants got the chance to contribute their experiences, both positive and negative, of being trans* in Buddhist spaces.
Together, we represented a large variety of Buddhist traditions and approaches to practice. A striking finding was that out of about 25 attendees, only a small handful were actively part of a sangha. Most people had solo meditation practices, and many indicated that they didn’t feel as comfortable as they would like in Buddhist spaces. This was a huge indicator of the need to make this valuable resource more inclusive.
In addition to discussing practical concerns related to housing at retreat centers and related issues, participants shared questions that had arisen for them while practicing the dharma as trans* people. Questions that came up included everything from considering the teachings on the emptiness of form in the context of sometimes complex or difficult feelings about our bodies, to discussion of experiences with anger. Participants were also invited to share dharma wisdom that had been helpful to them. Ideas included the “beginner’s mind” approach — seeing everything with fresh eyes.
We are so grateful to all of folks who came out, and we look forward to working with more of you in the future. We’re very excited to be building a network of trans*-identified Buddhist practitioners who work to build inclusive and anti-oppressive Buddhist community as a part of and to support their individual spiritual growth.