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First Event 2016 — A Blast!

| Feb 1, 2016
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This was my first, First Event. So okay, I admit I’m a “late bloomer” however, having been to two Keystones and Southern Comforts, and to Erie Sisters Gala, I was anxious to finally attend FE. I can summarize my feelings about the 36th Annual First Event at the Westin Waltham-Boston, with a one question. What took me so long?

Unfortunately a business trip kept me occupied until Friday, so I arrived just after noontime. I actually drove 5-1/2 hours “north” to escape the anticipated snow in Philadelphia (we received over 24 inches in the Philly area on Saturday vs. 3 inches in Boston). Following hotel check-in it was a quick freshen up, and off to FE registration, and the sessions. I thought having FE registration in the vendor area was a great idea, immersing the attendee immediately to those helping to contribute to its success. I was told over there were over 700 registrants.

The FE sessions are varied and numerous, addressing every aspect of the transgender experience and timeline: age, family, relationships, employment, and medical, with approximately 10, 90 minute sessions taking place at the same time, from 9 a.m. through late afternoon every day. One standing-room only session I attended, by Lezli Whitehouse entitled Voice and Movement for Gender Consistent Communication, focused primarily on non-verbal gender specific communication. The presentation was notable not only for its information, but for the engaging and humorous presentation, i.e. Lezli was an “absolute riot.”

A cocktail hour preceded both Friday and Saturday evening events. Friday night’s buffet dinner was followed by the annual FE Fashion Show. The show has been renamed the John Warrener Memorial Fashion show, to honor John of Glamour Boutique, a tireless supporter of the transgender community in Massachusetts and around the world, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.

Kicking off the event was Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the first openly gay Attorney General in the United States, who spoke passionately about LBGT rights not only for Massachusetts, but for people everywhere. I later asked her to twist the arm (or neck) of my own NJ state governor.

I must admit I’ve never been a big fashion show fan, however the First Event Warrener show was amazing, professional, entertaining, and tremendous fun. Transgender teens kicked off the event, with a few demonstrating great musical talent, including Nicole Talbot who sang beautifully.

Over two dozen women and men walked the catwalk, in a variety of set categories, in outfits from gorgeous and sexy to over-the-top outrageous. It was a blast!

Saturday’s Gala event was what you would expect, beauty, grace, dresses, gowns, masculinity and finest suits. Keynote Speaker Dr. Renee McLaughlin, related her lifelong journey to those in attendance.

Both Friday and Saturday evening events were followed by dancing to a great DJ in the hotel club until 1 a.m. The Saturday night (make that morning) after-party in the “Dr. Z suite” definitely lived up to its reputation, you just “have to be there.” I left about 2, after “good byes” to so many new and old friends, I heard the party ended around 4.

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Sunday morning breakfast preceded a long drive home. Joining me was a Philadelphia friend whose train schedule was negatively affected by the snowstorm. The conversation made the drive go by quite fast.

First Event 2016 billed itself as a “Family Affair.” I can certainly attest to that. While quite a few Philly and NYC area friends made the trip, I made many new, New England area friends, new “family.”

I may have missed First Event for the first 35 years; however I promise I won’t miss many more. And to top things off, my neighbor (who looks after me when I often travel) plowed my driveway. Life can be Sooooooo sweet sometimes!

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Part of the Philadelphia area Transgender community living in Sewell NJ. A Penn State grad, working in TV and FM Radio Broadcast equipment sales. Full time (about time !) since Nov. 2015. My frequent travel schedule allows me to visit TG friendly locales and attend events around the US.

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