I had the wonderful opportunity, on Saturday, April 23, to attend the Transgender New Hampshire, Mini-Conference in Plymouth, NH. Held on the grounds, of Plymouth State University, it was a free, day long event with a number of speakers and breakout sessions to discuss a variety of topics relevant to the transgender community.
Co-Sponsored by the NH Coalition for Transgender Equality, SAGE Center, and PSU Pride, the conference attendees also included a state representative and a legal representative from GLAD presenting the work they have been doing for the transgender community.
GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) is an organization, based in Boston, Massachusetts representing the transgender community as well. They are New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on
sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.
The theme for the day was: Educating the world about who we really are! And the sessions included: transgender people in the media, effective messaging campaigns, grass-roots educational efforts, self-care for activists, and moving forward in politically hostile times.
The event introduced me to a number of initiatives underway to bring about awareness and understanding to the transgender community in New Hampshire and in New England. Topics such as the bathroom bill were discussed, which was an initiative to allow for transgender individuals to be able to utilize restroom facilities aligned with their gender presentation. In New Hampshire, that bill did not pass, but plans were discussed in the conference surrounding initiatives to raise positive awareness for the next term in 2012.
At the conference, we were also able to meet a number of prominent individuals both within the transgender community and within the political and legal realms who are working to make some serious strides in our community. A forum panel and Q&A session were held, where we were able to discuss these initiatives and happenings and to question a variety of topics related to the transgender world.
Breakfast, Lunch and afternoon snacks were all provided at the conference free of charge as well. With an aggressive agenda, and a day filled with snow in the air and what amounted to two inches on the ground, it was welcome to be able to keep focused with the limited time we had to discuss so much. The end of the day brought out the yellow sticky post-it note pads as we went around the room to volunteer for a variety of initiatives that we could help with as take-aways from the meeting.
Some happenings which will be coming out of the meetings include:
Transgender house parties to openly invite other members of the community to be an active part of understanding who we are.
Regular, informal get-togethers at local coffee shops in and around a variety of areas in New Hampshire to talk about transgender related issues or just to talk about anything in warm, group setting.
Initiatives to connect the variety of groups in New England via a common Newsletter to tie all aspects of what we are all doing, together (guess who ended up with a part in the newsletter initiative!)
I also discussed the possibility of having one of the leads for GLAD potentially to come up from Boston to visit us at Tri-ESS at a future meeting, to discuss with us, what initiatives their organization is working on for us and to solicit our opinions and thoughts. He seemed very excited to have this opportunity and looks forward to this possibility becoming a reality at some point very soon for us so keep posted for updates on this!
To learn more of the initiatives underway presently, please do visit the following resources and find out what positive things are happening or planned as the transgender community moves forward in educating the world and helping bring equality to each of us as individuals.
GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) - http://www.glad.org/
TG-NH (Transgender New Hampshire) - http://tgnh.org/index.html
Also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=275513116964
Remember too, that when we are out and about in the greater world and presenting as our female selves, that others are developing an opinion of us based upon our presentation. Keep in mind that passive education is something that each person takes away with them when they meet a transgender person. Initiation of positive change and the removal of negative stigma associated with the word “transgender” happens ONE PERSON AT A TIME. We each play a vital role in dispelling the myths of mis-information of who we are so be sure to keep this in mind each time one is out and about.
With Spring finally here, and the ability to trade in my boots for comfy shoes and sandals, I’ll be out and about making acquaintances and doing my part. Enjoy, be smart, be sensible in presentation and dress, and be yourselves.
Hugs, Health and Happiness,