My biggest take-away from AlterConf, a conference on diversity in tech and gaming, is the profound realization that I am embarrassingly ignorant of the issues of other underrepresented groups.
I know intimately the issues of Women in Tech. I live them, I overcome them, and I am in the loop when something happens–good or bad–to Women in Tech.
I can rant for an hour about the “Barbie: I Can be a Software Developer” debacle or “Gamergate”. Another woman doesn’t have to tell me that women in tech walk a gender tightrope–careful to be neither too feminine nor too masculine, too bold nor too passive, simply so that we can be taken seriously in our careers. I know these issues because I am on the inside.
What really hit home at Alterconf was how little I understand about the issues I’m outside of.
I never imagined how frustrating it must be to wait 20 minutes to use the bathroom because there’s only one accessible stall. Or to be of a non-binary gender and, perhaps, not have a bathroom to use at all.
I would have never thought to ask a transgender person about their pronouns, much less understood that saying “preferred pronouns” instead of simply “pronouns” might be insensitive. I’m also acutely aware that using the wrong wording is probably the least of the insensitive things I have inadvertently said or done.
Every person that spoke opened my eyes a tiny bit further, but what I saw most was how much more I need to learn and how much more we need to amplify these voices.