The Philly Trans Health Con: Autism, Braillefail, and Sexism Oh My!

The Philly Trans Health Con: Autism, Braillefail, and Sexism Oh My!

This year’s Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference (formerly the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference) marked the fourth time that  discussion groups for folks on both the trans and autistic spectrum were held and the first time that we were able to have two back to back sessions. They started out a little bumpy, but smoothed out for the second session, and several great discussions were had. You can find an updated copy of the handout, which contains information and resources for autistic/trans folks, in the Resources section of this site or directly here.

Unfortunately, all was not roses and honey. For the third year, the PTWC has insisted on replacing the convention centre’s bathroom signs with the featured image, mounted on cardboard. At first glance it looks fine, right? Sadly, the braille is simply printed on and does not have raised bumps which is, in fact, not how braille works. What is worse, these signs cover over the permanent washroom signs, which have raised and functional braille. Last year I mentioned this to Ashley Coleman, the conference organizer, and Simon Pedisich, their Accessibility Coordinator. Both expressed surprise and assured me that it would be corrected in future years. I also sent a reminder email to the Accessibility Coordinator, prior to this year’s conference, as part of the disability accommodation requests for the Nuerotrans sessions, to which I received no response at all. Frankly, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference has little more than a surface level commitment to broad accessibility at this point.

Parity between transmasculine and transfeminine content also continues to be a big problem at the conference. The historical lack of parity between these tracks was previously and exhaustively documented by Ells Long but, as may be expected, nothing seems to have changed. Indeed, content seemed more skewed towards transmasculine folks this year with an inexplicable two FTM bottom surgery show and tell sessions. Even by their own accounting, the ‘trans-masculine’ track outnumbered the ‘transfeminine’ by 22 to 10 sessions. As with Braille and other accessibility concerns, the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference and it’s leadership seem to lack the will to change this failing.

What to pack when hooking up!

What to pack when hooking up!

I travel a lot. Mostly for conferences and presentations, but I always like to fit in a little bit of vacation afterwards when I can. This year was the sixth time I went to the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference and my fifth time presenting (more about that soon). The stars aligned and I was make a long deferred trip to New York City afterwards. I made a point of visiting two awesome bookstores, one great archive, and the LGBT Centre in Manhattan, which has an amazing mural by Keith Haring in the washroom.

Mural painted on the walls of the Manhattan LGBT Centre by Keith Haring, titled Once Upon a Time

While at the Centre I also checked out the safer sex supplies at the front desk and found this amazing swag that I hope will become more common outside of NYC. The #playsure kit is basically a little black case that has a space for a refillable! lube container, several condoms, and your pills. You can pack it with you wherever you go and always be ready for a good time. This initiative of the NYC Public Health Department is available for free at the NYC LGBT Centre, community events, and NYC sexual health clinics. To date, they’ve distributed over 150,000 and even gave them a fashion makeover designed by Marc Jacobs. I have never seen something like this before and very much hope that they become more common in places like Toronto.