I am attending The Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) today and Saturday. I hope to see some of my blog friend there. I highlighted yesterday the importance these events played in my emerging feminine life. At that time they represented the ultimate “Escapes”.
At these events I would sit for hours with fellow attendees and we would compare our “so similar” lives and how we were finally accepting ourselves. You all know who you are and I count so many of you as my closest counselors.
I will keep today's post short but invite others to share their convention and weekend get-away experiences. I know Stana’s favorite is “Fantasia Fair”, Provincetown, Cape Cod. My local friend Katie’s favorite is the "Keystone Conference", held in Harrisburg, PA. These have managed to defy the odds and hold on to a loyal group of attendees. Why? What do these have that the other did not? Are there others you attend?
Please share with us your most important moments while attending a transgender conference?
As SCC holds on by a slender thread of relevance, tell us why the transgender conferences are still important to you or why they are not?
My theory about this mirrors my theory about LGBT bars. A decade or three ago LGBT folks, especially those of us within the T spectrum lacked the freedom to go where we wanted and to do what we chose to do. For many years many of us could only get out to a "T" meeting or convention or would only feel safe within the confines and an LGBT friendly bar. Up in my neck of the woods ten years ago there were 5 LGBT bars/clubs that I could access. Often I would come home from work change into a dress, heels and makeup and head to one of these bars. I was welcome and soon became a regular, especially on karaoke nights. ALL of these places are now gone. The business dried up and they could not survive (the alternative explanation is that my karaoke singing drove them out of business).ReplyDelete
Back then LGBT people needed the safety of LGBT friendly places to go. Today L&G folks are pretty much welcome everywhere. I cannot think of any places that my son and his husband do not go and they live in a very conservative area. It is not exactly the same for a 'guy in a dress' but many in our community, such as yourself, have learned to exercise your freedom to come and go as you please where you please. I see that trend continuing and expanding. The need for safe havens such as LGBT bars, "T" group meetings and conventions would appear to be waning.
I believe that these conferences are still relevant for some. They provide safe venues to venture out for those who can't do it any other time. Then, they also present the opportunity to stay in "girl mode" for up to a week. Of course, the presentations and workshops can be useful, especially for "novices."ReplyDelete
Here, in the Northwest, there is the Esprit get-together. I wouldn't call it a conference, necessarily, as it seems to be more social. There are plenty of presentations on the schedule, as well.
My first (and last) Esprit was eleven years ago. Esprit takes place every May, and encompasses Mothers Day. My mother had died only two weeks earlier (preceded in death by my brother three weeks before that), and I was really in no mood for frivolities. I had volunteered to help with the Friday night talent show, however, so I did show up just in time for the Thursday afternoon rehearsal. My part was to provide music and some shtick between acts, so I felt obligated to be there. All I can remember doing, beyond that, was eating my pre-paid meals, picking up a cute polka dot sundress from the clothing exchange racks (which I wore again just a couple of days ago), my first time wearing a bathing suit at the hot tub party, and receiving my first-timer butterfly pin at the final ceremony. Oh, and then there was the pajama party later that night, wherein a game of "true confessions" was cause for my complete breakdown, and left me crying the rest of the night.
Relevant? Well, my experience was, at least, memorable. I could see that it was relevant for many of those who attended, though. For some, I learned, it was the only time -each year - that they even ventured out of the closet. My snarky side did wonder why some, after attending the makeup, deportment, and feminine presentation classes year after year, still had so much to learn. They seemed happy, though, so who was I to say anything?
I think that just about anything at a transgender conference could be found elsewhere these days. There's a plethora of information online (including from blogs like yours), and the social climate is such that venturing out - escaping, as you will - can be done almost anywhere at almost any time. I realize that Esprit, which takes place in a small town on a peninsula, offers an opportunity for some to spread their wings in relative safety and anonymity, so is certainly relevant for them. Once was enough for me, though.
I attended 3 Be-Alls in the Midwest in the 90's and enjoyed them very much. I always wanted to attend other conferences as well. I enjoyed the workshops where you could ask questions of noted professionals like those I might be considering for various surgeries and especially meeting others like myself to compare notes. Then my spouse passed away and I became a single parent of 2 boys. I thought they needed me to be their dad after loosing their mother and I put my feminine self in the closet until they were no longer dependent on me. That took awhile, another 20 years.ReplyDelete
Now I am recently retired and considering road trips to the conferences previously mentioned but have yet to plan anything. I am also trying to find the community I left behind in AOL chat rooms back in the 90's without outing myself on Facebook. Right now the online resources I frequent most are this one (I love it Rhonda!), TGform.com, and Reddit for chatting. The Be-Alls haven't happened for some time now but another Midwest event appears to be gaining momentum. It appears by design to have no planned workshops but all the 'nightlife': Transfusion in Detroit, http://tgdetroit.com/
I do see the same changes in acceptance listed in the previous comments. I think I was already starting to see those changes in the 90's in the younger transgender people that showed up at conferences. They seemed less excited about being out in femme, as if it wasn't that big a deal since they've been going out that way day to day for some time. They also passed very well being 20 somethings back when I was about 35 and trying to deal with beard shadow and other cosmetic challenges as a girl still in training.
Perhaps SSC and the other conferences are filling a different niche for the changing culture of transgender people and their needs and desires than they did in the 90's.
Transgender persons are coming out in high school and college these days.ReplyDelete
There isn't a need for a safe haven if you are going to class as a female