- March 11, 2023 at 7:02 pm #136463DeeAnn HopingsAMBASSADOR
I participate in a Women’s Chat Group every Thursday morning for an hour and a half. I started 6 or 8 months before we had to stop meeting in person. The group has been online ever since. In person the group was 12 to 15. Online is usually 6 to 10. I am one of 2 trans women who call in frequently. We were joined by a 3rd this week. It is a pretty eclectic group and I often talk about it when I encourage members to see if there are any online support or social groups that they can join in their area.
The Chat Group is under the auspices of The LGBTQ Community Center of the Coachella Valley here in California. I am a board member of The Center. There are 9 contiguous towns in The Valley: Palm Springs, Cathedral City (where I live), Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Indio and Coachella. Some of the women are local, but we have others call in from Seattle, Riverside (our county seat), San Luis Obispo, Las Vegas, Lincoln NE, Big Bear and western Michigan. This represents women who have frequently vacationed here, have a 2nd home here or are thinking about moving here to The Valley. Although some are retired, occupations represented include a Rabbi, a university professor, a high school guidance counselor, a physical education teacher, a therapist, a geologist, a nurse, a travel agent, a mechanical engineer (me), a woman who has restored old Volkswagens and one who was an AIDS activist and ran an LGBT center. Two are adoptive single parents of girls. Two are natural parents of boys. Three were married many years ago and have adult children and grandchildren. Two were never married and have no children. The reason I say all this is that there is a richness of backgrounds, lived experiences, family situations and places lived. With a group like this, there is never a set topic, but usually in the first 15 minutes one will emerge.
It is an extraordinary group. I have learned a lot and I hope that I have been able to pass along some useful things. On occassion I will have a conflict and miss a meeting. It is a sad time because I had to miss something that is really important to me. Most, if not all of the others, feel the same way.
So, what have I learned from all of this? Well, it is clear that women function very differently in social settings, particularly when it is an all-women’s group. The trans women have turned out to be just part of the fabric of the group. From time to time we do discuss trans issues, separately or in the larger context regarding politics, but there has never been a JK Rowling-esque kind of discussion. Clearly, I have always felt supported and respected.
Over 3 years ago, when it was suggested to me that I join, I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, I would have never guessed that it would be such an enriching experience and that I would be so attached to it.
I guess the moral to the story is to not be afraid to try new things. You may be pleasantly surprised!
- March 20, 2023 at 10:08 am #136660Michelle LawsonMANAGING AMBASSADOR
DeeAnn, you are absolutely correct. If we are not moving forward, then we are stagnant and moving back. Moving forward comes from trying new things. The things that help us grow and thrive as people. We cannot live our lives in a vacuum, we must have human interaction. And that human interaction benefits when people discuss things in thoughtful and polite conversations. Those can only help benefit all of our overall human experiences, and something we must do on a daily basis. I applaud everyone that gets up each day with the thought of not only improving their lives, but the lives of others. Hugs, Michelle
- March 20, 2023 at 6:00 pm #136675Jill LaceyFREE
You are so fortunate to be a part of your group. Closest I got to be in that setting was years ago in Florida as a member of a Tri-Ess support group. The advantage we had was wives/girlfriends were welcome to participate in all the various conversations that generally veered away from LGBT topics but not always. It felt like a group of ladies just gabbing about life most times.
- March 21, 2023 at 7:56 am #136688DeeAnn HopingsAMBASSADOR
I wouldn’t actually call this a support group as such. On occasion we do talk about personal things, but mostly it’s other topics: politics, global warming, local events, the Salton Sea, our histories, etc. There are no set topics. The conversation evolves in whatever way it evolves. It is 90 minutes and there is very little commonality one week to the next.
This Thursday I suspect that one of the topics will be an annual event last Saturday put on by the LGBTQ Community Center called Red Dress/Dress Red. It is a fundraiser and an excuse to put together any sort of outrageous outfit as long as it is red. I’m a board member, but I’ve never been. Maybe one of these days I will.
Going back to the elections, there was discussion about how a woman candidate from this area lost a state assembly election by 80-some votes which translated to .09%.
The woman who used to restore VW busses sold her last one for $30k (it had been sitting for some time). If it had been in top condition (and not even concours quality) it would have been upwards of $60k. She and her partner just bought a new 4-Runner with the proceeds.
There are several dog owners, including one who has show dogs and does competitions.
Anyway, it is an extremely eclectic group…
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