Philly Trans-Health Conference Wrap-Up

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

As I collect myself psychologically from both a fantastic conference that hits so close to home (and… tornadoes that hit a little too close to our car), I’m left with several take-aways.

From the past blog entries, you can see that there some absolutely fabulous strides in research, policy, and education/awareness of the trans community. Coincidentally, since the start of the conference two states have made progress on two trans non-discrimination policies: Nevada and Connecticut, with Connecticut to become the 15th state to offer employment non-discrimination protections for trans people!

I couldn’t discuss the conference without highlighting the huge struggles in our community. There’s a lot of pain in our community. There were folks in the Philly area and beyond looking for resources and help themselves, and I’m glad this provided an outlet for community members and activists to get resources for themselves. It’s rare to meet a trans person who hasn’t experienced loss in health, finances, relationships or discrimination which was mentioned time and again in presentations and personal stories of participants.

Given the universal hardship, the significance becomes much more important. Not only was this the 10th anniversary of the conference, it was the most heavily attended. We pretty much took over the entire Convention Center with queer/trans people all over. Even if we walked several blocks away for lunch, there were still participants, so it become relievingly easy to create safe spaces. There were even attendees on the planes and buses we took to get there and home. Our ubiquitous presence was something we just never see. Even in LGB(T) spaces, we’re often still one of a few or the single trans person there, so to be part of a majority was a welcomed change.

Another cool aspect was the number of significant others, friends family and allies (SOFFAs as they are sometimes called). The number of parents (both Moms and Dads) made me melt–it was beautiful to see supportive families and partners. It’s also wonderful to see so many trans people and allies empowered to do such great work for our community. Likewise, the fact that folks are making healthy careers out of this work (as in they actually get paid for their work) is another pleasant wonder.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

2 thoughts on “Philly Trans-Health Conference Wrap-Up

  1. Yep, the Philly Trans Health Conference is truly a unique and eye-opening event, so welcoming and inclusive, one that should be experienced by every trans person at least once.

    Thanks for your live blogging event – it kept me up to date on what I was missing this year (so sad I couldn’t go)!

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