This past week I spoke at an event called IdeaCity in Toronto, Canada. When I was invited back in January, I had no idea what it was at the time. So of course I went to Google and checked it out. I was totally shocked that I had been asked to be a presenter. It’s the biggest speaking event of its kind in Canada, and possibly North America.
So let me explain a bit about IdeaCity. It’s the brainchild that Moses Znaimer dreamed up 10 years ago. Moses is the media mogul of Canada. Super-amazing man and so sweet. He invites people from all over the world who have innovative ideas to speak to people who are in everything from media to teaching to the corporate world.
To be honest, I was a bit scared and intimidated to appear because I’d never been asked to speak at anything like this before, and it wasn't my usual crowd. It was not a gay or trans event and it was possible not one person was going to know who I was. So it was weird, but I am a super-confident person and know that my message is very universal, so I decided to just suck it up, and off I went to Toronto.
One of the things they wanted you to avoid was having a canned speech, so that meant no paper to read from and basically just get up on stage and say whatever came to your mind. There are three days of non-stop presenters. If you check out the website you will see 50 of the most amazing woman presenters.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention, this year’s roster was “women only.” Except for Rutger’s Professor Dr. Lionel Tiger (who wrote The Decline of Males) and myself, there were no men allowed.
The organizers did ask me if I was okay with that, and of course I was totally fine, as I know who I am. I was even joking with them about how my vagina got me through the door!
I sat and watched the presenters before me to get a feel of the show. I have to say most did read from something, and it did sound a bit more practiced than I thought they wanted, but what they had to say was so interesting that I learned an awful lot.
Then it was time for me to get my headset attached and go over my presentation with the producers before the next round of speakers. I was going to show the three-minute mini documentary that I have on YouTube followed by a discussion about who I am and my road to my acceptance as a man with a vagina; then show my PCA (Public Cervix Announcement) for trans men.
When Moses saw me backstage, he came to greet me—and also to make sure I wasn’t planning to show any porn. I assured him that I would never do that in a situation like this. “Besides,” I reminded him, “I don’t give my porn away for free.” He laughed and said, “Good answer!”
So after I got all of the technical out of the way it was time to get seated with all the rest of the speakers in my “pod” There were usually four speakers per pod. I spoke last after Liz Canner, Dr. Cindy Meston and Nina Arsenault. I was totally sweating bullets.
As planned, they played my brief documentary before I spoke play, so people would get a good idea of who I am. Even though Moses did introduce Nina and I as Transsexuals, most—if not everyone there—had no idea. So there I was, walking on stage in front of 600 people thinking about what I’d gone over with my manager, Sergio, before.
Then, I just went off, completely off of what I had rehearsed earlier. I looked at the audience and said: “I am going to challenge you right now. Challenge your idea of what makes a man and what makes a woman.”
I had them! They were hooked. I could see it.
I started talking about my life growing up as a boy, then how puberty messed that all up. I talked about my drug addiction, about porn, and how I am now the happiest man. I talked about not having a penis and what that meant to me; that it does not make me any less of a man. I talked about how I have accepted my vagina. I had them laughing and crying! It was so powerful. It’s weird, I cannot even remember everything I said. It just came out of my mouth. Then I played the PCA and everyone was clapping and laughing.
Moses came out when I was through and asked me if I could ever get pregnant. Funny how so many people want to know the answer to that question!
After the show there was a party and people were coming up to me all night long asking me so many questions, telling me that I was so great. They’d never even thought about what I was talking about before. It was such an incredible feeling to have people who are basically completely out of my world tell me that I’d opened their minds.