These three words are the theme of the 16th Annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. These words honor the transgender community, which continues overcoming obstacles and moving forward. Some of those obstacles are of a personal nature and may involve self, relationships, families or health. For others, they may be related to age, ability, ethnicity or race. Gender identity and gender expression, along with our diverse individual characteristics, can and often do, call on our reserves of strength and power to preserve as we move forward.
When you attend the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, you will see that there is nothing but perseverance the moment you walk through the Pennsylvania Convention Center doors. The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference is the largest free conference in the world focusing on serving the needs of trans communities and allies. It has grown from a one-day conference with five presenters and 70 attendees in 2002 to a three-day national conference with more than 250 workshops and 4,500 attendees in 2016.
The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference is trans-led. The conference co-chairs are trans, gender-queer/gender-nonconforming-identified and the all-volunteer global conference planning committee is made up entirely of trans, gender-queer or gender-nonconforming members. The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference provides a space for trans people and our allies, families and providers to come together to re-envision what health means for trans people. Attendees of the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference will have fun, learn, teach, meet new people, catch up with old friends and carry home a positive experience.
Mycroft Masada has attended several past Philadelphia Trans Health Conferences and is excited to be a part of this year’s event. “I’ve attended in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016; I wish I had gone every year, and plan to go every year,” Masada said. “This year I’m bringing my partner for the first time, and we’re co-presenting a workshop.”
They are among the hundreds of presenters who will be facilitating a workshop this year. Every workshop for the past 16 years has been created and facilitated by the trans community and allies who have taken time out of their busy schedules to come to this unique event and empower those who have attended.
Besides workshops, Philadelphia Trans Health Conference will feature many unique things to do over the three days. This includes more than 100 vendors that attendees can visit and get information from and where they can learn more about trans-led groups, nonprofits, medical providers, corporate allies and more. This year, the Sept. 7 free public opening-night reception will be at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Also at this year’s reception, organizers will present the second-annual Charlene Arcila Pioneer Award, which celebrates the hard work of a trans, genderqueer or gender-nonconforming person in the community. The professional mixer will happen again this year for those who will attend the Professional Track, and the community room this year will feature community activities including a barber who has given up time to offer haircuts. Kids camp returns for the younger ones, and youth space will be back for the older ones. We are proud to feature so many activities throughout the conference for all ages that will be engaging and insightful.
This year, the conference will deepen its engagement of diverse, intersectional trans communities. The spirituality offerings of many different faiths will be highlighted in a space that we call the Contemplation Space. Hosted by Trans Faith, the space will allow for prayer, meditation, art and other acts of mindfulness and intention through the duration of the conference. It will also feature activities and workshops around spirituality.
“As a trans and queer faith leader, I’m especially excited about all the Spirituality Track offerings, a few of which I’m co-presenting,” Masada said. “As an ally in the fat community, I’m very happy to see some offerings at the intersections of trans and fat identity and justice. I think this will be my best conference yet!”
This year also marks the fifth of the Professional Track at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. The track offers comprehensive training courses for professionals to assist them in providing trans-competent services. Unlike the general conference, which is free to attend, the professional track has a registration fee and offers continuing education credits for a variety of licenses and credits for medical providers, behavioral-health professionals, lawyers and, for the first time, educators.
As the conference has grown, the planning committee and Mazzoni Center have garnered increasing financial and volunteer support from a broad range of sponsors. There is a tremendous commitment to continue keeping the conference free and accessible to all who wish to attend for the foreseeable future as long as perseverance, strength and power are needed.
Philadelphia Trans Health Conference will take place Sept. 7-9 at Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. To register for the conference, visit www.mazzonicenter.org/trans-health.