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Are Transgender Conferences Fading?

The last few years have brought about some changes in the world of transgender conferences.  And it’s a little concerning to those of us who enjoy attending this type of event.

After 10 or 15 years of status quo, the first thing to shake the tree was the disappearance of  the Be-All conference in Chicago.  Although where were rumors of infighting and mismanagement, most of us will never know why the management team decided to call it quits.

Most recently, the Southern Comfort Conference organizers announced they’re moving the event from Atlanta to Weston Florida in the Fort Lauderdale area.  It was no surprise, really, that changes were necessary but I always thought the location was the best thing about SCC.  I loved that hotel!

When I was there in 2013, the only three ‘seminars’ that even remotely appealed to me were all cancelled on the ‘day of’, and it seemed we were in charge of making our own fun.  Generally speaking, I came away wondering what exactly I had paid for.  My response to a request for post-event comments was met with hostility because I had negative observations and no suggestions for improvement.  Improvement, for me, is to stop giving them my money.

The organizing team are presenting positive attitude after announcing the change but we all know they must be concerned.  In spite of some pretty decent media coverage, the move isn’t being very well received except by those who live in Florida.

Gal’s Spring Fling, here in Ontario, might also be on the chopping block.  The organization of the event is in the hands of a single person who seems to have lost the energy to continue.  Time will tell but I would expect an announcement in a few months.

From my observations, it appears that Keystone Conference, First Event, Colorado Gold Rush and Erie Sisters Gala are all doing well and growing.  Although there are many other events, I can’t comment if I’m not aware of them.

Fantasia Fair is a big question mark for me.  Although it appears to have very loyal attendees, the clique and attitude is best suited to the mature transgender to the extent that young trans folk might not feel welcome.

It appears they’re struggling to find a suitable location in Provincetown to accommodate current attendee numbers for their Saturday night gala so maybe growing the numbers isn’t desirable.  But who will be there, in the not too distant future, when the small and aging crowd can no longer attend?

So, in summary, I have to wonder if large, all encompassing transgender events have run their course.  Back in the days when most of us were forced to remain stealth, getting together occasionally with like-minded spirits was huge.   And that enormity was a motivator for organizers.   These days, with Girl’s Night Out’s and Pub Nights happening monthly in many areas, the need for large gatherings has lessened; similar, maybe, to the effect that small casinos have had on Las Vegas.

I just returned from Fantasia Fair and will review this year’s conference in a separate blog post.  But the highlight of my year will continue to be the Keystone Conference in the spring.

Please, Keystone organizers … don’t change a thing!