Transgender conferences in September to keep community busy

by Marisa Richmond, Ph.D.

September 2005 features two major Transgender conferences on consecutive weekends, both of which are easily accessible to Tennessee residents. September 14 to 18 is the first ever Transsistahs and Transbrothas Conference, titled "Defying Gravity." This will be held at the historic Galt House Hotel and Suites in Louisville . This conference will provide Transgender People of Color an opportunity to meet with and network with each other in a supportive environment. The schedule was still a work in progress at the time of publication deadline.

The very next week is the annual Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta . Every year, SCC is the largest gathering of trans persons. The 2004 conference drew approximately 650 people to the midtown location. This year's event, the 15th Annual version, takes place every fall and brings together a wide array of transgender persons, friends, family and service providers.

Southern Comfort features a series of seminars, receptions and gatherings, covering a variety of interests over the course of four days.

Traditionally, the transgender attendees of SCC can be identified in four basic categories: the community leaders and activists; those seeking medical information; the first timers just coming out of the closet; and the party animals who attend each year looking to have a good time.

The conference begins on Wednesday, Sept. 21, with a Cookout in Piedmont Park , a short walk from the conference hotel. The cookout is free to all attendees. That evening, there is the traditional visit to Agatha's mystery dinner theater.

The first full day of events is Thursday, Sept. 22. The seminars begin that morning at 9 a.m. One of the day's presenters is Nashville 's own Fredrikka Joy Maxwell, a former board member of the Tennessee Vals, whose topic is "Talk About Being Different." The morning's schedule also includes a tour of the Fox Theater and special reception for Parents, Friends and Families. The luncheon speakers are Lisa Mottet, from the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Judy Hoff, National Transgender Coordinator of P-FLAG. That afternoon, there will be a shopping outing to the Discover Mills Outlet Mall.

That evening, there are a series of events for different segments. The Tennessee Vals will host a Hospitality Suite and there will be a Newcomer's Reception for Southern Comfort first-timers. At the same time is the annual Men's Health Project, which provides free checkups for Transmen at a local clinic. This has been a regular feature of Southern Comfort since 1998, and is dedicated to the memory of Robert Eads, who died of ovarian cancer after being denied services by 22 physicians because he was transgendered. After that, there will be a Transmen's Party, and the evening ends with the Pajama Party hosted by Roxie DuMont.

The second day includes visits to the Martin Luther King Center and the High Museum of Art. The luncheon features Scott Turner Schofeld, a performance artist whose show, "Debutante Balls," offers a comedic look at coming of age and coming out, taken from the perspective of one queer white Southerner. There will be a Pool Party in the afternoon and the International Foundation for Gender Education will host a reception before the dinner which has the theme of " Bourbon Street ."

Saturday will feature visits to CNN Center and a shopping tour of Little Five Points. The luncheon speaker is Jamison Green, Board Chair of Gender Education and Advocacy, and there are afternoon receptions hosted by the Southern Belle Society and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The convention ends with a banquet followed by a Masquerade Ball.

For more information about Defying Gravity in Louisville, visit

For more information about SCC, and to register for the 2005 conference, visit

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