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.

Resources for homeless pets

Homeless man with dog. Photographer Veronica Henri

In my work in Toronto homeless shelters I’ve had the chance to put together a resource list for homeless pets, including free pet food, veterinary care, and fostering services for people fleeing domestic violence. The last one is particularly important, as evidence shows that violent abusers often use threats against pets as a method of threatening or preventing those who are abused from leaving the relationship. These resources are specific to Toronto, but check out the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association site for information on SafePet programs throughout Ontario.

Services for Poor and Homeless Pets

Books for radical social workers

An image of the pop-up safe injection site at Toronto’s Moss Park from Inside Toronto.

It’s true that there aren’t many texts out there detailing the practice and experience of radical (and, dare I say it, even anarchist) social work. In fact, though I’ve frequently seen it practiced and sometimes described in passing, I’ve only ever read one dedicated book on the subject; the self-published Anarchists in Social Work: Known to the Authorities by Martin S. Gilbert, Mark A. Newns, Peter Good, John Evans, and Doreen Frampton, which is fortunately freely available above. (more…)

A quick update on bed bug maps

An observant reader noted that the bed bug maps for the years 2009-2011 were corrupted. I’ve fixed this and they should download correctly now. I’ve also added a legend explaining what the colours specifically represent and that each area noted is taken from the first three figures of the Canada Postal Code of the reporting individual, which is how the data was given to me by Toronto Public Health. Folks might also be interested to know that I am currently in the process of updating the maps and should have something to report soon.