From October 1st-3rd, the second biannual Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference will take place in Missoula, Montana. Pride Foundation is excited to support this year’s conference through our community grants program, and we wanted to share more about what to expect at this timely and important event.

Kim Leighton, Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Montana, recently interviewed Bree Sutherland, Executive Director and co-founder of Gender Expansion Project, to get her thoughts on this year’s conference.

Kim Leighton: For those who might not have heard of it, can you explain what the Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference is?

Bree Sutherland: The Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference is a comprehensive trans* conference focused on improving the lives of gender variant individuals throughout the rural Northwest. We do this by providing quality opportunities for education surrounding gender diversity, transgender and intersex health, and offering inclusive and welcoming environments for all individuals in the gender continuum.

Community and professional-based education tracks are offered at the two-day conference, including continuing education opportunities for professionals. The rigorous and informative workshop sessions give individuals and professionals alike the skills to improve the environment for individuals of gender diversity throughout the rural Northwest and beyond.

What can participants expect from the 2015 conference?

This year, we are excited to have a comprehensive line-up of lectures and workshops tailored to serve a range of professionals—including healthcare providers, mental health professionals, sexual assault response professionals, policy experts, legal professionals, and community organizers. We also have a wide variety of topics tailored toward trans* and gender diverse individuals, their allies, and supportive families.

I’m excited to announce that our keynote speaker will be Jamison Green, the current president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and a longtime trans* health and equality activist. All of our keynote sessions will be open to the general public each evening after the conference, and will be completely free of charge to all individuals.

Who should attend the Gender Expansion Conference?

The Gender Expansion Conference is open to all individuals. Whether you fall within the trans*, intersex and gender diverse continuums, are an ally, a supportive parent, or a professional—this conference is for you. The conference is designed to provide education to everyone, whether you are a professional who has been serving the trans* community for years, someone who is new to the trans* community, or you are just looking for more information to help be a better ally, parent, or family member.

One of the central core values of the Gender Expansion Conference is to make it is as accessible as possible. We have built-in scholarship opportunities, a ride and lodging share portal, and many other features that help ensure that everyone who’s interested in attending is able.

Why do you think this conference is important?

Currently, the Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference serves as the only one of its kind between Seattle, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition, it’s the only event that has a strong emphasis on trans* equality work, trans* health, and a focus on youth. The conference is specifically tailored to meet the needs of those in the rural Northwest and is designed to fill the gaps where current educational opportunities are lacking throughout the region.

What are your goals for the conference in the future?

As we continue to grow, we hope to provide supportive environments where trans* and gender diverse individuals can feel welcome, safe, and cared for in their own communities. Where individuals can seek healthcare, knowing that they will be received with knowledge and competence, regardless of their gender identity.

You can learn more about the 2015 Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference here.


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