This week I talked with Aidan Key, founder of Gender Diversity in Seattle, WA about the 15th annual Gender Odyssey conference that takes place at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, Washington from August 4th to 7th. Gender Odyssey is an international conference focused on the needs and interests of transgender and gender nonconforming people. The conference provides an array of thought-provoking workshops, discussion groups, social events and more. This annual event attracts people from all over the world for an uplifting weekend of skill sharing and community. Over 1000 participants are expected to attend this year as visibility for transgender issues and communities have reached a historic high mark. Gender Odyssey's primary objective is to offer tools to navigate obstacles and provide pathways to individual and community empowerment with conference tracks for professionals, families and transgender people of all ages. There will be over 100 workshops, panels and events providing the highest level of expertise from within the transgender and gender nonconforming communities. Also again this year "Gender Odyssey Family" the stand-alone conference will be presented for families with gender diverse and transgender children as the cornerstone of the weekend providing three days of workshops, a day camp for kids and a complete teen program. This annual family conference is one of few places where families, children and teens can get the information and support they need to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. I talked to Aidan about how Gender Odyssey provides a powerful life-changing conference experience for its attendees and his spin on our LGBT issues.
When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBT Civil Rights Key stated:
I cannot not do this work and frankly in times of great fatigue, I have thought about that and wanted to step away and yet I feel quite strongly that this is the work that I need to be doing. I spent quite a number of years of my life in the lesbian community prior to my transition. I had the blessing and good fortune to meet a lot of amazing change agents within that community and especially so in a number of people that were older than me by 15 or 20 years so in a sense mentored me and provided me in what I felt was more like a second upbringing. There's no way that between them and my own mom who raised me to be who I was meant and to fight against the injustices that present themselves, there's no way I could let those people down and not do exactly what I'm doing. I find a huge amount of...satisfaction doesn't even seem like the right word. It's what I need and have and want to do to fill my soul.
Aidan Key and his organization have helped students, families and schools think about and address gender and transgender issues. Key has served as a consultant to dozens of school districts across the United States navigating the questions and concerns that come with supporting transgender students. He is the co-author of "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves" (Oxford University Press) and "Gender Cognition in Transgender Children" (Psychological Science). Past speaking engagements have included the Children's Justice Conference and the Adolescent Medicine Conference.
For More info: genderodyssey.org