I was asked to provide facilitation and a keynote address of sorts for “Violence and Trans Women of Colour: The Intersections,” an event hosted by Carleton University’s Carleton Equity Services, Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University, and CUSA Womyn’s Centre as part of the university’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. While my remarks during the event did not exactly match what I prepared, the original material is now here for others’ perusal.
This year will most likely be the last year that I attend the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology’s yearly symposium. This small-scale conference is advertised internally, and draws its attendees almost exclusively from the two university biology departments that comprise the OCIB. As a graduating Ph.D., I’m unlikely to either get those advertisements or have the open schedule required to be present on subsequent occasions. It has served as a way for biology students at the two departments to meet and get to know one another, for people to become familiar with the research going on elsewhere at the Institute, to practice for higher-stakes presentations at larger conferences, and to attend curated talks from well-credentialed and diverse researchers in various related fields. I have never found attendance at the OCIB Symposium to be wasted, not even the year where they got that weirdo suggesting we start using Aristotelian teleological models to better understand parts of biology.
(For those not in the know, those models also underlie much Christian philosophy and therefore Intelligent Design.)
This year, though, was marred by two instances of tone-deaf, science-illiterate microaggression that only get to keep the “micro-” qualifier because I’m not prepared to accuse these two speakers of deliberately attacking the autistic and transgender communities. Yet.
Women in Secularism 2 was an amazing event, and one whose various liveblogs I encourage people to read. The talks and panels were fantastic, despite being bookended by obnoxiously wrongheaded attacks on the conference’s very premise. Short review: would do again. And not just because fellow attendees and bloggers Kate Donovan, Jason Thibeault, Miri Mogilevsky, PZ Myers, and Ashley Miller kept the atmosphere awesome throughout.
Some things that were said, in particular by CFI-Transnational Director for Outreach Debbie Goddard, got me thinking. It’s no secret these days that organized atheism’s roots in predominantly white, male, well-educated circles has often made it tone-deaf to the different experiences, priorities, and demands of people outside those groups. It’s also no secret that some of these “outsiders” have far more to gain from abandoning religion than Western atheism’s white, male, well-educated old guard ever did or hopefully ever will.
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