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.