As I look forward to 2017 I am, at the same time, looking back at the year 2016. This year has been eventful, not only in the realm of global affairs, but in my life as well. After almost eight years of living in Ottawa, years that included my transition, departure from IT work, and finishing my undergraduate degree, I have moved back to Toronto. There were a number of reasons for my return to Toronto, the primary one being economic. There are simply more opportunities in Toronto than in Ottawa. I have maintained my personal and professional connections in Ottawa. I am still involved as a member of the Trans Health Info Ottawa (THIO) team.
Since my move I have returned to Ottawa to present workshops and be part of panel discussions. In Toronto I have had some speaking engagements. I am continuing my activism work as part of THIO as well as with groups in Toronto. In November I was able to co-present a workshop on Trans Jewish Converts at TransKeit, a Jewish Trans and Ally conference sponsored by the Center for LGBTQ & Gender Studies in Religion at Pacific School of Religion, held in Berkeley California. Closer to home I have been involved with advocacy work with Canadian Blood Services on blood donation by transgender people, the Service Ontario consultations on identity documents, improving trans services in South Etobicoke at LAMP, and addressing social determinants of health with the Toronto Trans Coalition. I am also continuing to work on a guide for those who are transitioning or considering it to be published on my website.
During the summer I began the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess program which is held at a retreat centre in Connecticut. This will, all going well, result in my being ordained as a Kohenet Hebrew Priestess in the summer of 2019. This program is approximately USD $900 or so per week before subsidies plus travel costs. On the education front I am in the process of preparing applications to graduate schools. This is a time consuming process and costs money for each application. Fees range from CAD $40 through $100+ per school I apply to. In addition, there is the cost of transcripts to be sent to the schools, another CAD $50 per application. One of the schools I am applying to is the Graduate Theological Union, Center for Jewish Studies in Berkeley. Because it is in the United States they require that I take the GRE Test, another USD $200 plus HST. While I will qualify for financial aid once I am accepted, financial aid does not assist with all of the various costs involved in making the application. I am also moving to a better location, and a shared apartment that fits my needs more than where I am now. This will involve moving costs and require me to purchase some furniture—my current place and place in Ottawa were furnished.
With all the challenges of 2016 behind me I am looking forward to positive changes in 2017 and hoping that the political situation in the United States will not be as bad as it looks like it may be. I am continuing to pursue my goals and continue to bridge faith and queer/LGBTTQIA spaces and communities in healthy ways.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me financially, emotionally, and spiritually throughout my journey. I am grateful and appreciate all of the support! For those who wish to support me on Patreon the address is https://www.patreon.com/TaliaCJohnson