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.