Philly Trans Health Conference 2013

My partner and I went up to Philadelphia with a friend for the Trans Health Conference June 13th – 15th this year. Here’s a list of the workshops I attended and my summaries of them. If you attended the conference also and have something you would like to add or if you’d like me to go into more detail about any of the workshops listed below please comment!

Thursday:

2:20pm – Trans Representation in Porn

4:05pm – Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care

I wasn’t super stoked on Trans Representations in Porn. I was expecting it to be kind of a guided discussion about the state of trans representations in porn and what that means for the community and what we’d like to see in the future. Instead it was a panel of professional, trans, porn performers talking about their experiences acting in porn. It just seemed like more of an interview with these people about their careers, which just happened to be in porn, than anything else. It didn’t do a whole lot for me because  I don’t care if you’re porn-famous, or what production house you work for, thats just not what I’m interested in discussing when it comes to porn and trans people.

Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care on the other hand was really awesome. Most of the time was devoted to small group discussions with the intent of “developing our narratives”, which is a fancy way of saying we spent a lot of time talking to each other about our experiences as non-binary people and what they mean to us. It was really great to have a bunch of other non-binary folks to bounce ideas around with. I don’t really remember much of what was said now, but I still feel really positive about that workshop and came away from it feeling really good.

Friday:

12:45pm – Keynote Speaker Qwo-li Driskill

2:20pm – Non-Binary Transition: Exploring the Options

4:05pm – Non-Binary Transition: A Community Discussion

So the first thing I went to on Friday was Qwo-li Driskill’s keynote speech. Qwo-li is a Cherokee two-spirit, so their speech was mostly about the intersection of colonialism and gender. There was some poetry mixed in there and historical and cultural information about the Cherokee people, but it was all wound together, very poetic, with lots of vivid imagery, its kind of a hard thing to summarize, but I appreciated it. I feel like it might have been less impactful for me though then for other people in the audience becuase I’ve read some of Qwo-li Driskill’s work and I’ve read 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance. I’m familiar with and in agreement with anti-colonialist politics and have an awareness of indigenous people’s struggles and the genocide perpetrated against them by the United States. So to me Qwo-li’s speech wasn’t particularly shocking or overwhelming, which I feel like it might have been for some people in the audience.

Non-Binary Transition: Exploring the Options was presented by Micah (aka Maddox) of Neutrois Nonsense  and was super helpful and informative for people (like my partner) who are non-binary and are looking into accessing parts of medical transition. We definitely didn’t know that the new WPATH standards of care were recommending that doctors now used an informed consent model rather than requiring letters from therapists before prescribing hormones. I also really appreciated this workshop for its multifaceted approach to talking about transition (viewing transition as social, legal and medical) rather than just focusing on the medical aspects of transition.

Non-Binary Transition: A Community Discussion was a facilitated discussion immediately following the Exploring the Options workshop and was also hosted by Micah. This was a single, large group discussion with a facilitator as opposed to Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care (audience broken into small groups of 4 to 8, no facilitator). The discussion was pretty good and Micah did an excellent job facilitating.

Saturday:

10:20am – Hysterectomy: What You Need to Know

12:45pm – Feminizing Hormones 101

4:05pm – Non-Binary and Trans: Political Identities, Narratives and Experiences

5:40pm – Trans Prisoners: The Prison Industrial Complex, Survival and Solidarity

I was really excited about the hysterectomy workshop because one of the major reasons I wanted to go to the PTHC this year was to try to find a doctor I could talk to/get more concrete information from about hysterectomies, endometrial ablations and tubal ligations. I was kind of disappointed with this workshop, not because of the presenters, but because of the audience. Initially the audience was really hostile, one of the first questions asked was how much experience the presenters, both OB/GYNs, had working with trans men and how much they knew about the effects of testosterone on the body. Then once it became apparent that they knew what they were talking about everyone wanted to raise their hand and ask their random-ass, personal medical question. It went on like that for the entire duration of the workshop, alternating between people using these doctors as a proxy at which they could vent their anger and frustration with the medical community or using them to get all their random medical questions answered/tell all their weird medical anecdotes. The presenters didn’t even get to finish their slideshow becuase of all the interruptions.

Feminizing Hormones 101 was really great. It was presented by a trans woman who is nurse practitioner from New York, she was witty as well as informative, the information was presented clearly and was a good mix of medical facts and anecdotal feedback about the effects of estrogen. I went with my partner, who is interested in taking estrogen and they really appreciated the workshop and it definitely helped them make some decisions about how they want to take E.

The next to last workshop I went to was Non-Binary and Trans: Political Identities, Narratives and Experiences. The topic the facilitators wanted to explore was whether or not non-binary people are necessarily trans. Which, to me, is a no brainer, you can’t be assigned non-binary at birth so you can’t be a cisgender non-binary person. But I went anyway, I thought it might provoke some interesting discussion. It didn’t. Well, it might have, I left early so I can’t say for sure. What it most certainly did provoke was a whole lot of circular discussion and navelgazing. Most of which people couldn’t even manage to relate back to the discussion questions. It was mostly a whole lot of rambly, off-topic,  different-people-saying-the same-things-different-ways-over-and-over-again. And at that point I really didn’t have the patience to see it through to the end, since I was pretty sleep deprived.

I went to Trans Prisoners: The Prison Industrial Complex, Survival and Solidarity about 20 minutes late, because my partner and I lost track of time. It was a good workshop, the information was clear and well presented and the analysis was spot on, but it was all stuff I already knew so I just felt kind of indifferent about it, despite the fact that it truly was a well done workshop.

Overall:

I’m very glad we went, it was a great experience for me and my partner and we both benefited a lot. It was especially neat to be in a predominantly trans space for the first time in my life, its hard to describe how that feels, but it was a wonderful feeling. I think safety was definitely part of it. My partner commented multiple times on how safe they felt, that they didn’t need to look over their shoulder all the time, and that they could feel more comfortable just being themselves in public there.

Positives: It was awesome that both keynote speakers were non-white people. The whole conference in general was really conscious of intersectionality, and that was great.

Negatives: I felt like class analysis was kinda lacking in a lot of the attendees. Most of the other people I was in workshops with just kind of assumed that everyone in the workshop could afford to do/access the same things as them and that was kind of uncomfortable for me. I’m poor. I grew up poor and I’m still poor. Like, I-work-a-service-industry-job-and-have-less-than-two-thousand-dollars-to-my-name poor. And that’s just what my life is like, so its awkward when someone assumes otherwise, especially because, statistically, amongst trans people, I am not an anomaly.

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2 thoughts on “Philly Trans Health Conference 2013

  1. Thank you for writing this. The only event you mention that I attended was the keynote with Qwo-li Driskill. It was cool, but I didn’t get much out of it either. I already know the basic facts of colonialism and Two Spirits, and this didn’t go into much depth. I’m extremely picky when it comes to poetry, and that didn’t do it for me. The Q&A session was the best part. Nevertheless, I stayed for the whole thing and enjoyed watching / listening to Driskill up there expressing all of his and her … two spirits. 🙂

    Like you, I left a few workshops early / showed up late because some of them weren’t doing it for me. My favorites were the one on trans & cis dykes together, sex positive trans sex, polyamory, and… maybe the one on trans representation in video games, although I left that one early because I thought Trans Allyship 201 would be more important for me as an ally attending this conference for the first time (it was useless). The best part of the conference was being part of this TGNC(+allies) microcosm for 2+ days. I could feel what a precious space it was… and I normally don’t cry at conferences, but I did tear up while watching the Gender Blender showcase.

    Reply
  2. yeah, being in a predominantly trans space for like 3 days was really amazing and impactful for me. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but you’re definitely right, that was the best part of the conference.

    I’m glad the sex positive trans sex and the polyamory workshops were good. I didn’t go to either because I’m already in a poly relationship and having sex positive trans sex, but I think they’re super important things for people to be talking about.

    Reply

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