Trans people, allies and service professionals gather in Philly this weekend to celebrate the joy of being trans.
LGBTQ health and social service provider Mazzoni Center organizes the annual Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference to provide a safe space that empowers trans, nonbinary and queer people to advocate for their mental and physical well being. A variety of workshops, speakers and events provide education and resources to help attendees find the services and support they need, with topics like “How to Make the Most of your College Experience as a Non-Cis Student” and “Self-Made: Combatting Dysphoria Through Fitness”. Conference workshops are chosen by a conference Interdisciplinary Review Committee to make sure the content meets attendees’ needs.
Attendance numbers have climbed throughout the years. Last year’s conferece had more than 10,000 attendees, and Mazzoni Center events staff are excited to see if this weekend’s conference will break another attendance record.
“It really shows how many people seek this information and that this is such a critical space,” said Jay Alston, the Events Coordinator for Technology and Data. “We have a lot of returning attendees, and people come from all over the world to have this community bond.”
The conference also builds community among those who work with trans patients or clients. The professional track allows service providers to learn about improving their services for the trans community. This program is built for lawyers, doctors and mental health professionals to receive necessary continuing education credits while expanding their ability to meet the needs of an audience that is often forgotten or limited in conventional education programs.
“So many professional programs might devote a day to serving LGBT people, let alone trans people who have very specific care needs,” Alston said. “We also have trans providers who might work in environments that don’t allow them to bring their full selves to work, so this track also helps affirm that there are people who want to go above and beyond to do more for the community.”
In addition to education, the conference has a series of networking and social events for attendees, including Thursday’s Opening Reception at the Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts (128 N Broad St.) and a “Euphoria” dance party at Tabu (254 S 12th St.) on Friday night. The conference will also include a number of meetups for attendees to encourage even more community building.
“It’s our goal to create very intentional spaces for folks with additional marginalized identities,” Alston said. “We have meetup spaces folks with disabilities, Spanish speakers… it’s one thing to form a group based on one identity, but people can go even further with these meetups during the conference.”
This year’s Trans Wellness Conference runs from Thursday July 25 to Saturday July 27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Visit mazzonicenter.org for a full schedule of events and registration information.