The eighth-annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference kicked off this week, with three days full of workshops, seminars, film screenings and activities meant to educate and empower the transgender community and its supporters.
The conference is taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1201 Arch St., until June 13.
About 1,500 people attended last year’s conference, and Cody Poerio, chair of the conference planning committee, said attendance at this year’s event is on track to top that number. The conference is expected to draw participants from throughout United States, Canada and England.
The conference, presented by LGBT health clinic Mazzoni Center, will feature more than 100 events geared toward all members of the transgender community.
The first day of the conference, however, was designed for medical, mental-health and social-service professionals who work with transgender individuals, to heighten their awareness and understanding of the issues facing this community. Providers’ Day featured discussions on such topics as barriers to HIV care for transgender individuals and the latest technology being utilized for sexual-reassignment surgeries, as well as a keynote address by Dr. Lisa O’Connor, whose practice focuses mainly on transgender people.
Community Days, June 12 and 13, will focus on the transgender community itself, with a series of activities for transgender individuals and their allies to learn more about the health and social issues facing the community. All Community Days events are free.
“For years our focus has been about mind, body, spirit and community, and we’ve tried to maintain that,” Poerio said. “Our primary mission is to provide access to information that these people may not otherwise have access to, and we’ve definitely stayed in that tradition.”
Poerio noted that this year, organizers decided to create two new programming tracks — spirituality and people of color — to meet community demands.
The new tracks will include programs such as “Transcending Religious Transgressions,” which will focus on religious and spiritual struggles faced by transgender youth, and “Anotha Kinda Brotha,” where men-of-color panelists will share their experiences with both breast-implant and sexual-reassignment surgeries.
Community Days will also feature programming that focuses on other facets of the transgender community, such as youth, the elderly, families and female-to-male and male-to-female individuals, and will include a keynote speech by trans activist and writer Julia Serano.
Poerio said attendees reflect the programming’s diversity.
“It’s wildly diverse, and we’ve tried to become even more inclusive this year in our offerings,” he said. “We have people come in who are 5 years old with their families who are dealing with issues of gender dysphoria, all the way to people who are retiring and aging into the senior-citizen community. It really does vary; we have a large trans-male population that comes, and also a lot of trans-female, gender-queer and gender-variant people. We try to present something for everyone.”
For more information, visit www.trans-health.org.