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The Saturday gathering at Squires Student Center will offer workshops on legal and societal issues.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
For all the buzz about equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people lately — including at the U.S. Supreme Court this week — the push to end discrimination for the LGBT community hasn’t been the same for every letter of that acronym.
“Transgender is still the most misunderstood,” said Dolly Davis, a transgender woman from Roanoke.
So Davis and Ladies of the Blue Ridge – Transgender Alliance, a support and outreach group, are hosting a free conference on what it means to be transgender — to have a gender identity that doesn’t align with your birth sex — from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday in Virginia Tech’s Squires Student Center.
The target audience for the conference includes both transgender people and their families and others from corporate or other institutional settings seeking a better understanding of them, Davis said.
For trans people, it’s “a sanity check,” Davis said, a chance to meet other transgender people. The conference also seeks to provide a “road map” to services they might need, from where to get laser hair removal done to counseling resources to seeking hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery.
“We’re trying to provide services for everybody, and this region is very limited and very restricted because of the policies of health care providers,” Davis said.
For others, it’s a chance to learn about policy issues regarding transgender people, and for the transgender community to “reach out and humanize what it means to be transgender, and it’s struggles,” Davis said. “It’s not a choice, it’s just who you are.”
The conference will feature two main speakers.
Michael Silverman is the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a law professor at Drexel University. His talk is entitled, “We Will Be Free: Legal Developments on the Path to Transgender Rights.”
Jeanine Ru hsam is president of TransCentral PA, host of one of the largest transgender conferences in the country.
There also will be workshops hosted by Erika Grafsky, a Tech professor in the marriage and family therapy doctoral program, and Ted Heck, transgender resource manager for the Virginia Department of Health.
Davis, 44, a Roanoke architect and transgender woman who is not fully “out” to family and friends, said she expects 100 or more people for the conference. It initially was planned to be held at Metropolitan Community Church in Roanoke but was moved because early interest suggested that venue would be too small.
“People are starting to realize being transgendered is not a fad,” she said.
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