Anyone who wants to learn more is welcome
On November 18-19, the Pride Center of Western New York hosts its fifth annual Trans Wellness Conference. The event includes an impressive slate of speakers and a “day of remembrance” ceremony.
The event is free with optional meals included. While it is focused on creating a safe space for trans individuals and community members, people of any gender identity who are interested in learning more about the population and the issues they face in our culture and in their lives are welcome.
Cameron Schraufstetter, a trans wellness specialist at the Pride Center says that this event is necessary to help spread both awareness and information about resources.
“More people are coming out as trans gender and non-gender conforming,” says Schraufstetter.
“Many don’t know what services are offered, or how to live healthy lives. The conference speakers are trans themselves or work very well with trans gender people. The conference is also a great way for those who aren’t trans to gain education and knowledge on trans people and their lives.”
This information could benefit those in the general public, and those in fields like medical, mental health, or social work, who may experience working with trans gender people.
While the conference is open to all ages, Schraufstetter says that, due to some frank content, attendance for youth is at parents’ or guardians’ discretion.
The Pride Center, through its Trans Gender Health Initiative, offers services like monthly support groups, and individual sessions for people who are trans, questioning or even the partner of person transitioning. It refers them to affirming, accepting providers of services like mental health, substance abuse, housing, food stamps, SSI and other benefits. The Center also offers risk reduction counseling for those at risk of homelessness, HIV, or violence.
Patti Jones, chair of the Pride Center’s board, agrees that the need for the event is evident. “Our conference helps link the trans community to Western New York groups, organizations and services which, in general, they have a difficult time accessing,” she says.
The conference keynote speaker, Lourdes Ashley Hunter, is national director and co-founder of TransWomen of Color Collective. She agrees that events like the Trans Wellness Conference provide necessary sanctuary for the community.
“This brings communities together who don’t always have safe, affirming spaces where they can see folks like themselves; where they don’t have to wonder if their gender or other identities are going to policed or challenged,” she says. “This is critical, especially when there are so many legislative movements to further disenfranchise the trans community.”
Other topics addressed by speakers at the conference include the legal name change process, voice modification, pregnancy as a trans man, finding and creating safe environments and the personal journeys of the presenters.
General information: The Trans Wellness Conference
- WHEN: Fri., Nov. 18, 9am to 8pm & Sat., Nov. 19, 10am to 7pm
- WHERE: Evergreen Commons, 67 Prospect Ave., Buffalo, N.Y. 14201
- HIGHLIGHTS: Keynote speaker Lourdes Ashley Hunter, executive director of Trans Women of Color Collective (Washington, DC). Kayden Coleman, the once-pregnant transgender man will also share his experience.
EXTRA: At 7pm on Saturday, November, Spectrum Transgender Group presents a Trans Day of Remembrance to publicly memorialize the lives lost to trans phobic violence in the past year and brings attention to the continued violence experienced by trans individuals.
HOW MUCH: FREE
TICKETS: Registration is free online, in advance or day of event. Walk up registration also welcome.
Participants may attend one session or all. Meals (including vegan and vegetarian options) are included. Register at pridecenterwny.org
Jana Eisenberg is a contributing editor and writer to WNY Media. She writes frequently for regional and national publications.