New and old attendees speak of their experience at the 23rd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Hosted in Minneapolis this past February, over 2,500 people attended the five-day program. The conference featured over 250 workshops and training sessions, including four spectacular plenary sessions and tons of networking opportunities. Jaimi Huett and Tommy S Kelley, from The CENTER, represented Iowa at the conference.
“This was my first experience going to any conferences so I didn't really know what to expect once I got there, but I was grateful to be going as our Transgender Outreach Coordinator for The CENTER here in Des Moines. I was also very thankful that organizations such as The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force made it possible for those of us without much money to be able to apply for scholarships so we could attend. All I can say is wow! So many GLBT People all in one place at one time was amazing.
This was also the most Transgendered people I had been around at one time and their stories taught me that we have gone through a lot of similar situations in discovering ourselves.
While at the conference, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released the report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey; which showed that the Transgender Population has doubled the rate of unemployment compared to the national unemployment rate. Also 90% of those who were surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it. While at the conference I met some really cool people who I remain in contact with for friendship and resources to use here at our Center here in Des Moines. It was a very exciting and Educational time.”
Tommy S Kelley
“My week of attending the "Creating Change" conference in Minneapolis has firmly reminded me of all the progress that has been made since 1973, when the Creating Change Task Force was founded. None of the rights and laws the L.G.B.T. community has now, would even exist if Creating Change had not been founded in 1973. Any amount of words simply can not describe the inspiration that Creating Change has given me. I now fear nothing negative that my life as a transexual woman might bring my way. No fear of the religious right, nor expensive s.r.s. surgery, nor the 73 percent unemployment rate for transpeople, or anything else!
Every member of the L.G.B.T. Community should attend at least one Creating Change conference. Creating Change 2010 was in Texas, this year's conference was in Minneapolis, while the conference for 2012 will be in Baltimore, Maryland. We took over two hotels in Minneapolis because the conference was so large. This was my first Creating Change conference, and many more will come as my T.S. life
continues on. Many of us in the community are working very hard to get a Creating Change conference to come to Iowa!”