• Miranda L. Galbreath, MA, MA, LPC

See you at Keystone!

Hi friends! Last week I attended the Keystone Conference for the first time, and I LOVED it! I loved it so much, I thought I’d spend a little time sharing some information about the conference and what it has to offer, so you can think about going next year!

Held in Harrisburg, PA, and drawing attendees from around the world, Keystone describes itself as a “Celebration of Gender Diversity,” an event that celebrates transgender identities with family, friends, allies, and supporters. The Conference offers workshops, activities, social outings, support meetings for spouses, and more. They offer specialized tracks for Transmen, Debutantes (trans women who may want support from their more experienced sisters to feel comfortable being their true selves in the public eye), Families, and Spouses.

The Conference isn’t specifically geared for professionals, but there are enough educational sessions offering CEU’s to make attendance worthwhile if you are a professional who wants to learn from trans folks and who needs to meet those continuing education requirements. Or you could forget the CEU’s and just enjoy the opportunity to learn from gender diverse folks!

The Conference is chock full of helpful volunteers and Conference staff making themselves available at every turn to ensure you feel safe, welcomed, and know where you need to go and what you need to do. There are tons of awesome, supportive, friendly vendors and sponsors to talk with about just about any service you might want to receive. You can connect with gender-affirming healthcare providers, peer support groups, folks offering makeovers, fashion consultants, spiritual guidance, etc. You can purchase lingerie, prosthetics, and toys to meet your unique needs. There are free condoms EVERYWHERE. I personally left with a heck of a lot of free condoms, dental dams, lube samples, and other goodies. I collected tons of great info about where to get affirming care, who can help you manage your legal documents, where to get services if you are a Veteran, and coaches who can help you manage transition and/or navigate transition in your partner relationship.

You can attend workshops that help you learn how to present yourself to the world in the way you prefer, such as sessions on “Sophisticated Styling for Plus Sizes,” “Feminine Flexibility and Movement,” and a class called “Killer Heels,” that teaches us something ALL of us heel-wearing folks would benefit from: How to walk successfully (and sexily) in those suckers! There are supportive outings with peers to restaurants and other activities, nail salon outings, and opportunities to get your hair and makeup done. There are prayer breakfasts and yoga. If you need or want it, it was there!

I think my favorite part about the experience was that everyone, and I do mean every single person (Conference volunteers and staff, presenters, vendors, attendees, hotel staff), was friendly, open, welcoming, and affirming. I’ve never received so many compliments in my life, nor have I willingly chatted with so many strangers and enjoyed it. I was surrounded by people who were reveling in an (for some of them, rare) opportunity to be in the world presenting as their authentic self, surrounded by folks who understood and supported them. I was surrounded by folks in satin ballgowns, pinup-style outfits, business suits, sundresses, and all manner of fashion. Everyone made sure everyone else knew just how great they looked, swapped tips, and offered support. As one of the few cisgender folks there, I found myself wishing that all of the conferences I attend (which are primarily populated by cis folks) were like this.

I met some really cool, interesting folks. During the sit-down lunches, I got to connect with a group of folks from Crossdresser Heaven, some of whom were out in the world dressed for the very first time. I got to learn from geneticists, fellow mental health providers, trans folks who shared their own journeys, spouses of trans folks, a Lt. Colonel in the US Space Force (!), and many other interesting and kick-ass folks.

I can’t say enough how much I loved this conference, and I hope you check it out! Wherever you are in your journey, whether you are not out, whether you are out, whether you want help and guidance or want to support others, whether you are a spouse, a parent, a professional, there is a ton here for you. See you there in 2023!

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