In 2008, we were reeling from learning that our 15 year old “son” identified as a trans girl. I was desperate for support for my child, myself, and my family. We felt alone and frightened and had not yet found PFLAG, nor any other local resources, support, or knowledgeable providers here in the Mid-Atlantic. But we did find a family conference on the west coast, so we dipped into our rainy day fund and flew to Seattle.
There we found information, resources, and the strength to tackle this amazing journey. And we found others on a similar journey. But most importantly, after years of darkness, our child began to blossom again. Understanding the life-saving value of such resources (and looking for local company on our journey), I set out to create a network of support back in Maryland for other families with trans and gender-expansive kids. Seven years later, through an amazing partnership among Gender Spectrum, The Gender and Family Project of the Ackerman Institute and PFLAG, Gender Conference East came to Maryland in 2014. In 2015, the leadership has expanded to include Chase Brexton Health Care Services and FreeState Legal Project.
We are, first and foremost, a community of support.
The Friday Professional Symposium is focused on educators, mental health and other health professionals—any professional working with transgender and gender-expansive kids. In 2014, we expected 75 professionals; instead 150 joined us.
The Saturday Family and Youth day offers tracks for youth and workshops for parents; we expected 150 last year, and ended up serving 300 family members. We expect to grow this year, hosting 250 on the professional day and more than 400 on family day.
With greater media coverage and more visible role models, our children are coming to understand themselves more and more rapidly, and we are here, local to the east coast, ready to support them.
What parents and families said about Gender Conference East 2014.
“It was beyond words. My 10-year-old was not happy about going; he had never been around other children like himself. It was exactly what he needed. That night and in the following days, he would randomly comment about what a great day he had. I might even say it was the most positively impacting event in his life.”
“My son was in the teen conference and he loved every minute and made friends and got tons of information and learned a lot. He felt empowered.”
“It was a very welcoming and positive experience for us. It exceeded our expectations. We were very grateful for the daycare so the whole family could come.”
“I was able to share my fears, highs, lows and get feedback from parents having the same issues.”
“Thank you for coming together—three great organizations—and thank you for bringing this truly amazing conference to the east coast.”
What the professionals said about Gender Conference East 2014.
“I was transformed by the day, personally and professionally. I was particularly deeply grateful for the parents who were there. I loved the entire day and came home telling my coworkers that they should go next year.”
“When I looked at the list of speakers and their backgrounds and experience, and the schedule for the day, I was sure I wanted to be there. I came from Boston to be there.”
“I have been looking for pediatric gender training opportunities and they are few and far between.”
Learn more and get registered.