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On the Road With Dr. Angello

| May 24, 2007
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Dr. Michele Angello reports on her travels.

So much has happened over the last month and a half! Last month, I presented at the Trans-health Conference (THC) at the Philadelphia Convention Center. For those who have never attended, THC is a fantastic conference that is very grassroots-focused. There are non-trans surgeons, therapists, attorneys and other providers, but the majority of the workshops are facilitated by transgender community members. One of my favorites this year was a session on aging as a trans-person. The other amazing thing about this conference is that it’s free!

A week later (also in Philadelphia) was the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) conference. Though the two are both trans-related, they’re also extremely different. This one is more for the middle-aged professional while the former is much more youth-focused. Even though I mentioned that my favorite workshop at THC was on aging, I think it may have been the only one on such a subject. Anyway, IFGE does tend to cater to folks who have some discretionary income, and who expect to be entertained. One night they had a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia, an entertainer named Jade Esteban Estrada, and the final night was a banquet which culminated in the Philly Follies (talented conference members producing a show for other attendees) and finally, dancing. Oh yes, there were workshops throughout the three days as well!

I was only able to attend a portion of IFGE because I was off to Sydney, Australia for the World Association of Sexology. I presented a workshop titled “Successful Variables for Transgender Youth” and generally had very positive feedback. There was one member of the audience who happens to write a lot on trans-issues who disagreed with my approach. Unfortunately (in my opinion) this individual feels that no one under the age of 18 is capable of really knowing how s/he feels regarding gender identity. He also said (and has written in professional journals) that most kids who “think” they’re transgender actually end up identifying as gay. I don’t disagree completely with his conservative approach to working with youth, but I feel strongly that some young people absolutely know (for them) that this isn’t about their sexual orientation, but truly about their gender identity. I also appreciate how scary it can be for a practitioner to support a minor in exploring his or her gender identity. But, after you’ve seen kids improve drastically when you simply validate their feelings, I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t take a cautious, but less conservative approach.

Speaking of youth, did anyone see the episode of 20/20 where Barbara Walters interviewed three young people and their families? As much as I am NOT a fan of exposing young people to the onslaught of media attention when they’re in the midst of working through such a serious issue, that show did an amazing job of educating the masses. It assisted many parents I’m working with to understand that they’re not negligent by allowing their child to explore the gender binary or even to experiment with living full-time as the “other” gender.

That brings me up to the present. Last week I went to Washington, D.C. to attend a training facilitated by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) on how to lobby on Capitol Hill. That evening there was a fabulous event also hosted by NCTE that included appearances by Jennifer Boylan, Susan Stanton, Julie Nemecek, Jeffrey Carlson, and many other transgender celebs. Overall it was a feel-good night in which the take-home message was, “expect to go home with human rights”.

Well, that’s my month in review. I’d love to hear if you attended any of the events I mentioned or if there were others that happened that I didn’t mention!

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Michele Angello, Ph.D. is a clinical sexologist with offices in Wayne and Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Dr. Angello works with clients to help them reframe feelings of guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment, and even hatred around sexuality, and encourage feelings of acceptance, responsibility, joy, and sharing. She specializes in issues around gender and sexual orientation.

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