A Suggestion for WPATH

Source: Dallas Denny. (2011, 1 November). A suggestion for WPATH. Chrysalis Quarterly, 3(1).

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My thanks to Faughn Adams for providing me with minutes of the transgender town hall meeting held 22 September, 2011 at the Southern Comfort Conference. The meeting was sponsored jointly by WPATH, Southern Comfort, and the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association. All three organizations were meeting concurrently in Atlanta.

Panelists included Outgoing WPATH President Walter Bockting, incoming President Lin Fraser, incoming President-Elect Jamison Green, GLMA President Becky Allison, and community activists B.T. of Transforming FTM, Jamie Roberts of Atlanta Gender Explorations (a group I started 21 years ago!), and Tracee McDaniel of Juxtaposed Center for Transformation. The conference was moderated by Faughn Adams of EmoryUniversity and Anneliese Singh of Georgia Safe Schools Coalition.

A Suggestion for WPATH

The opening plenary at the 1997 WPATH symposium in Vancouver was interrupted by local transgender and transsexual protestors who cited high conference cost as a barrier to their attendance and requested access to the conference.

This understandably caused consternation, but WPATH wisely (in my opinion) allowed the protesters to attend the sessions.

Fourteen years later the issue of access for local transgender and transsexual activists once again raised its head as members of the audience at the joint WPATH/JLMA/Southern Comfort town hall meeting cited the high cost of the conference as an impediment to community participation.

WPATH President Walter Bockting pointed out that a number of sessions had been arranged for locals, including a special plenary session on transgendered people in sports and the Olympics, a welcoming reception, and film festival events, and were free of charge, and there was a special price for Sunday registration. HBIGDA had, he said, made a decision to use its limited scholarship monies for people outside the U.S.

After the conference local activists– including the transgendered panelists—urged the WPATH panelists to allow a couple of local community leaders to attend so they could share what they learned with the local community. WPATH leaders agreed to two free passes.

This resonated especially with me because I was unexpectedly short of funds and lacked the $285 necessary to register for the day on which I was scheduled to co-present a paper with Jamison Green. I spoke up in reaction, and immediately wished I hadn’t. I was flattered when Faughn later asked me if I would like one of the slots, but said I would prefer it go to someone who had never been to a WPATH symposium.

I’m happy to say I was allowed to attend long enough to co-present my paper with Jamison. For that I’m grateful, and because of that I’ll be making a donation to WPATH.

I can’t begin to say how embarrassing it was to ask for the favor of being allowed to give my own paper.

I absolutely understand why WPATH can’t open its symposia to anyone and everyone, but I don’t see this issue of local access will go away.

I have a suggestion for WPATH. I’m making it here, and will be making it as a member after the first of the year, when I will rejoin (I stopped renewing my membership when Version 5 of the Standards was released. I should have rejoined when Version 6 came out, but somehow never did).

The Suggestion

I don’t see the issue of access for local populations ever going away. Allowing admission to several people as representatives of the community will be a gesture of good will that will go a long way to improving relations with transgender populations  at future symposia locations, will help educate those local populations about WPATH and the Standards of Care, and will hopefully prevent disruption of the symposia by protestors like the one at the 1997 symposium in Vancouver. Perhaps the donation I will soon be making could go toward access for a local transgendered person at the upcoming WPATH symposium in Thailand in 2014.