THE+ Conference Forms
Transgender Health and Education Conference Forms
By Dallas Denny
At 7:30 am on Sunday morning, September 7, as the 2014 Southern Comfort Conference wound down, I found myself in Room 901 of the Crown Plaza Ravina Hotel. I was in the company of more than twenty other SCC attendees. We were there to talk about forming a new Atlanta-based trans conference.
Most of us were there for two reasons. First, we were personally impacted by the SCC board’s surprise announcement that Southern Comfort would be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Those of us who live in or near Atlanta would be forced to either fly or drive 640 miles each way to the conference and rent hotel rooms—and those who didn’t live in Georgia would have to spend twelve or more additional hours on the road each way (this after already having to drive hundreds of miles through Atlanta from Missouri and Indiana and Virginia and other states) and have to budget an extra two days in order to make the trip. Many of those in the room, almost all long-time SCC supporters and attendees, would simply be unable to make it to Fort Lauderdale in 2015. But that wasn’t the big reason why we were in the room. The big reason was we were concerned the move to Florida would deprive hundred of trans people of their spiritual and emotional once-a-year home.
It wasn’t the first time I attended such a meeting. The first happened in 1990, when representatives from trans social and support groups from all over the Southeast met at the La Quinta Inn on Piedmont Road in Atlanta to talk about starting a conference. That two-day meeting, which had come about because of the efforts of Sabrina Marcus, marked the birth of the Southern Comfort Conference. Before we adjourned we had a name, a projected date, and a plan. That was twenty-four years ago.
Last Sunday we didn’t have the convenience of time. Most of those in the room had planes to catch or long drives home, so we had only a couple of hours to decide whether we wanted to launch a conference, and, if the answer was yes, make decisions about how to go forward. Two-and-a-half hours later we adjourned. We are going to launch a conference and it will be called Transgender Health and Education + or simply THE C. The focus will be, as the name implies, on education and health, with a focus on all factions of the trans community. The plus in the name, we decided, would stand for trans kids and their families. The first conference, which will take place some time in 2015, will be held in Atlanta. We even have proposed by-laws, thanks to Tony Kuykendall. We also reached consensus to wish SCC and its board of directors well.
Before we ended the meeting we appointed a six-person development committee to craft a business plan and make recommendations for a venue and date. I’m sure the committee is already hard at work. Already THE Conference has a logo, website, public Facebook page, and a Yahoo group. There is also a private page for organizers, most of whom have yet to be determined.
I was impressed with the credentials and level of commitment of those who attended. The room was full of people who want to make a difference—just like that meeting room at the La Quinta Inn way back in 1990.
I don’t have a list of those present—the sign-up sheet went with the development committee, but I can say they are names many who read this will know and respect. The names will appear soon enough in the discussion forums and on the website.
I hope to be one of those names.