#TransSpectrum14 Conference

By Luis H. Garay
@LuisHGaray

I had the great fortune to be a part of an amazing professional development opportunity a couple of weeks. Our Dean of Students office, sponsored the registration for professional staff within our Division to attend the Transgender Spectrum Conference. The conference focused on the transgender community and involved speakers, sessions, and information across various topics.

Personally, I was excited for the conference because I admit my limited knowledge of the transgender community. I am continuously looking for opportunities in which to increase my knowledge be it personal readings or viewing videos or attending as many LGBTQ conference or sessions. The thing with attending LGBTQ conferences or sessions is the lack of focus towards the trans community and more of the L, G, Q, and sometimes B. With this conference specifically focused towards the “T”, I knew this was going to be informative.

Two things stood about this conference and my experience: (1) the multi-disciplinary approach to topics and sessions and (2) the benefit of it being a non-higher education/non-student affairs conference.

On the first point, the multi-disciplinary approach spoke to my liberal arts background. When learning about a new topic, I thrive learning about the topic from all sides, aspects, and dimensions. Even though I may not knowledge in that aspect of the topic, I still find it enhances my understanding and critical thinking of the topic. The conference spoke about transgender issues through lens of age, health, history, HBCUs, youth leadership and much more. (Here are the sessions, in case anyone is curious).

On the second point, I think some of the best conferences I have attended have been outside of traditional higher education and student affairs conference. This is definitely a top 3 conference for me. Not that I mind student affairs conferences but there is something about learning about the topic via other professions that deepens the experience and my own knowledge base. Again, my liberal arts education taught me how to view the same topic from different angles.

I left the conference with an increased knowledge about the transgender community, new connections, and a list of books, texts, and documentaries that I will have to order via Amazon or check out from the library.

How has your professional development gone this semester? Any exciting opportunities for you in the spring and summer? Let me know or comment on this post below or tweet me at @LuisHGaray. As always, thanks for reading!

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