Queer Trans People of Color Conference focuses on anti-Blackness and self-care

Debbie Yuen/Staff

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Students from across the state gathered for the 13th annual Queer Trans People of Color Conference, or QTPOCC, which centered much of its discussion on anti-Blackness and self-care within QTPOC spaces.

The QTPOCC was hosted by UC Berkeley on Friday and Saturday. This year’s theme was about embodying potentialities, dreaming new galaxies and birthing new realities.

According to CalSERVE presidential candidate and ASUC Senator Juniperangelica Cordova, the QTPOCC is a gathering of queer, transgender people of color with the aim to share and build skills and knowledge through workshops and discussions.

“In keeping with the theme of embodying potentialities, I want queer, trans people of color to continue to dream of the world we want to see, but also realize that we have already been crafting that world,” keynote speaker Raquel Willis said. “The ways in which we make those realities true and reclaim our pronouns, bodies, futures — that is something of the future and something that is powerful and sacred.”

Some of the conference’s workshops included “Disposable from Birth: Anti-Blackness, Prisonal Abolition, and Call Out Culture,” “Building Liberatory Futures: Abolition in Practice” and “Radical Self Care for Resilience and Mobilization.”

“I really hope that (the conference) helps (conference attendees) connect with a sense of community … and that they get to leave feeling … empowered in some way and with a really specific understanding of what next steps are, whether it’s work stuff or personal growth,” said Phiroozeh Petigara, the “Radical Self Care for Resilience and Mobilization” workshop leader.

QTPOCC began at UC Berkeley in 2006 and has been hosted by different campuses across California every year. Students from UC, California State University and community colleges across the state were invited, and about 250 students attended this year.

Tablecloths and star-shaped confetti of all colors filled Pauley Ballroom. Volunteers and organizers in hot pink shirts were spread throughout Pauley Ballroom and Dwinelle Hall to guide attendees during the conference.

According to Cordova, the conference was focused on uplifting and centering Black and Brown transgender women. Both directors and the keynote speaker were transgender women of color.

But Cordova said there were still few Black queer and trans attendees in this year’s conference. She said the lack of diversity stems from a campuswide problem.

According to Cordova, they usually outreach through queer centers on campus, but this year the QTPOCC planning committee did more outreach online because underrepresented groups in QTPOC spaces can be more comfortable online and outreaching to queer centers on campus will not guarantee higher conference attendance. She said online outreach led to a little more diversity within this conference, but added that more can be done.

“I appreciate all the radical social justice work done here. Yes, it’s seeped in privilege, but I appreciate all the (marginalized) queer, trans people of color here who have pushed against that culture of dominance,” Willis said.

Contact Mariam Zagub at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MZagub.