Kevin and I spent most of today playing tourist around Victoria. The weather was beautiful again, and we are both very footsore as a result. Victoria is a beautiful city, and it has loads of bookstores.
Of course today is St. Patrick’s Day and, just like everywhere else in North America, Victoria goes a bit crazy. There appear to be more bookstores than Irish pubs in town, but only just. Faux Irishness was out in force today.
People keep telling me that Victoria is more British than Britain. This is patently not true, because I checked the local paper and there were no headlines screaming English Cricket In Crisis! In fact they didn’t cover the game at all. The paper did, however, preview the conference I am here for. They even mentioned me. Here’s the online version of the report.
Kevin and I spent the afternoon in the local museum, which has some absolutely amazing art done by the First Peoples of the region. There will be photos when I have time to process them.
First People’s art also featured in an exhibition at the art gallery where the launch event for the Moving Trans History Forward conference was held. Obviously for sheer numbers this didn’t match up to Brighton Trans Pride, but there were a lot of trans folk there, and they had come from all over the world.
We were officially welcomed to Victoria by Madison Thomas, a trans person from the Esquimalt Nation, and by Dr. Aaron Devor, who is the only Chair of Transgender Studies in the world. He’s why the conference is here (and I must say he has excellent taste in places to live and work).
There were two keynote speakers. The first was Shelagh Rogers, who is the Chancellor of the University. She’s also a well known radio host on CBC who specializes in talking about books. It turns out that we have a bunch of friends in common, most notably Guy Gavriel Kay. It was clear from Shelagh’s speech that the University of Victoria takes diversity issues very seriously.
The other keynote was by Randall Garrison who is a local MP, openly gay, and a keen supporter of trans rights. I have been following the saga of trans rights legislation thanks to Merecedes Allen. Things looked pretty dire last year, but the federal election seems to have changed all that. Garrison’s bill looks set to be taken up by the Government, which gives it a much higher chance of actually passing.
All in all, it was a very promising start to the event. I was also pleased to catch up with a couple of UK-based friends (hi Jana & Lauren). Tomorrow we get down to serious business. Expect tweetage (because I have been promised wifi.)