In four days, my partner and I will be on vacation! We’re going to stay with friends in South Philly, hang out, and attend the PTHC, for the 3rd year in a row. It’ll actually be my 4th time attending – my first time was in 2006. It took place in early March, instead of June, back then. It was much smaller scale. Maybe a dozen or two dozen workshops, and a couple hundred people. Now there are over 250 workshops and over 3000 attendees, over the course of 3 days!
My memories of that year are super vague and fuzzy. I’m sure I was paralyzed by social anxiety for the majority of my time there. I was traveling with a (sort of more than) friend, and it was a strange time. I remember taking the trolley and getting lost. I remember eating carrots, crouched down low like a bunny, outside of the conference center. I remember our hosts – friends of mine – offering us some amazing dumpstered food, and feeling jealous it was so easy for them to get so much free food (not that I had put in too much effort into acquiring dumpster scores at the time, where I live. Some effort, but not much, haha.)
I’m most looking forward to attending some workshops on the following topics: health care (one in particular is called How to Develop a Transgender Healthcare Alliance in Your Community), trans* youth voices, and anything non-binary-related, as long as it’s a little more advanced than defining terms and finding our identities. In the past, I’ve mainly honed in on workshops about mental health, non-binary identities, and sex. It feels significant that the information I’m seeking, the topics I’m finding interesting, has started to shift.
In the past, it’s been a delicate balance between wanting to get the most out of it, and pushing myself far far beyond what I can actually do (in terms of crowds and being around people). I end up being a walking zombie for a lot of it. I’ve tried a bunch of things to help me last longer. I bring snacks and water, and don’t worry about eating right in the middle of a workshop, if I have to. I have brought my journal and attempted to find a quiet corner to just write down some thoughts, hoping to come back into the present moment. I have even wandered around the rest of the conference center, walking up to other floors, where it is dead quiet and (probably) where no one is supposed to be.
Last year I found what really really works for me. I left the conference center all together, for about a half hour, and took a walk around a couple of blocks. I’m not familiar with the area at all, and was delighted to find myself in Chinatown! I stopped into a food store and bought a soda and then just kept walking and walking. It felt incredibly rejuvenating. When I got back, I was ready to absorb more golden information and people-watch at the best people-watching event I know of! Haha.
Will anyone be at the conference? I’d love to say “Hey,” in person! Do you have any other conferences or trans*-related events, coming up, that you’re excited about?