2005 TSTBC Conference Successful
African-American Transpeople Hold Historic Convention
The first annual Transsistahs and Transbrothas Conference was recently held at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY from September 14-18. The participants in this historic event spent four days discussing various seminar topics on issues of importance to African-American transgender people.
The conference was put together by a team of national African-American transactivists spearheaded by Dawn Wilson and Monica Roberts. From the onset they wanted transmen involved in the event planning and transmen Louis Mitchell and Joshua Holiday played major roles in shaping the conference.
Topics that were discussed included spirituality, African-American transgender images in the media, African-American transgender history makers and reasons why they are not mentioned in overall GLBT history, transgender people in prison, medical issues and transition tips for college students.
There were seminars on the cultural differences between the African-American and Caucasian communities and how they affect building working relationships between them and one done on job interview skills. The job interview seminar dovetailed nicely with the other unique aspect of the conference, the first annual Career and Education Fair in which corporations such as Charter Communications participated.
There was strategizing done by participants on ways to build the African-American transgender community infrastructure and thoughtful conversations that lasted well into the early hours in many cases. There was also a transmen only rap session in which they discussed their unique issues and a Saturday night drag show and party that raised money for GLBT Hurricane Katrina victims.
The speakers included SONG Executive Director Mandy Carter, Dawn Wilson, and Jordana LeSesne. TSTBC 2005 Co-Chairs Louis Mitchell and Alexis Whitman made moving speeches that challenged the participants to put what they learned into action when they returned home.
The conference was reminded of the disproportionate numbers of transpeople of color affected by transphobic hate violence when Jordana retold the story of her 2000 attack in Kent, OH.
Southerners on New Ground along with Louisville's Fairness Campaign co-sponsored this conference with the Fairness Campaign providing the volunteers that helped the conference run smoothly.
TSTBC's history making run ended with a Sunday closing church service led by the Rev. Aletha Fields of Louisville. The TSTBC participants are eagerly looking forward to returning to Louisville October 18-22 for TSTBC 2006.