National Trans Health Symposium looks to seize the moment in Atlanta

The transgender community is definitely having a moment, what with Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and other high profile transgender individuals stepping into the spotlight and starting conversations over the past year or so. But outside of that spotlight, there remain a number of troubling issues affecting the community, from the rash of murders of transgender women, high HIV rates in transgender women, lack of employment opportunities in the transgender community overall, and so on.

HIV/AIDS and overall health service organization Someone Cares Inc. of Atlanta aim to address some of those issues at their third annual National Trans Health Symposium on November 12–13 at the Loudermilk Conference Center.

Someone Cares is looking for physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, frontline clinical staff, social workers, case managers, mental health/substance abuse counselors, people from the transgender community, and others to take part in the event, the theme of which is “Opening the Doors of Opportunity—the Transgender Perspective.”

Kylar Broadus is the keynote speaker at the National Trans Health Symposium. (Courtesy photo)
Kylar Broadus is the keynote speaker at the National Trans Health Symposium. (Courtesy photo)

Domestic violence, hormone replacement therapy sessions on schedule

An opening night reception at Jungle Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 12 will lead into a packed day at the National Trans Health Symposium on Friday.

“The roundtable discussions will cover everything from domestic violence to personal safety, hormone replacement therapy, employment barriers, just the different issues that people deal with,” says Ronnie Bass, founder and CEO of Someone Cares. “We’re talking about community-based resources, and that can include anything from mental health to medical care as well as just ongoing support.”

Additional subjects on the schedule for the roundtable discussions include the Trans Lives Matter movement, human sex trafficking, substance abuse in the transgender community, transgender legal issues and more. Speakers include Olga Lugo-Torres from Gilead Sciences, Ses Soltani from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Holiday Simmons from Lambda Legal, numerous physicians and other medical professionals, and a symposium wrap-up by Bass on Saturday afternoon.

Getting transgender individuals proper insurance coverage will be another major focus of the symposium, with Bass saying that insurance carriers don’t recognize transgender people as a population and that gender markers need to be made available in order to help correct that.

“The transgender population at this conference has an opportunity to get empowered because we are engaging our clients in an uplifting, empowering way and building community and village,” Bass says.

“It’s for them to talk amongst themselves in a positive way and just giving them the knowledge and information and even the consumer skills to go out and make good choices whether it’s about a physician, whether it’s about medication, their safety, about relationships, all of those things.”

Sponsors of the event include AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Janssen Pharmaceutical Company and Emory Hope Clinic.

Keynote speaker to talk about self-empowerment

The recent ascendance of the transgender community in the national conversation over civil rights hasn’t gone unnoticed by Kylar W. Broadus, a transgender man and the keynote speaker for this year’s symposium. He just hopes the community can coalesce in order to take advantage of it.

“We should all come together to build a powerful trans movement, setting aside any differences because trans people are capable of leading our own movement,” he tells Georgia Voice. “Black people lead the civil rights movement and women lead the women’s movement, it makes sense that trans people lead the trans movement. We must realize that we are powerful as individuals and together.”

Broadus, a professor, attorney and longtime activist from Missouri who founded the Trans People of Color Coalition, is taking part in the symposium because he feels it’s important for transgender people and other marginalized populations to take control of their own health issues.

“I will be talking about self-empowerment,” he says of his keynote speech. “I think it’s important for trans people to realize that we as individuals are unique and special. We were born this way and are beautiful as we are. We are powerful people in our own right. We should love ourselves as we are and then others will love us. One way we can love ourselves is by taking care of our physical and mental health but also we can build wealth as well.”

2015 National Trans Health Symposium
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 6 p.m. at Jungle Atlanta
Symposium: Friday, November 13, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Loudermilk Conference Center
Early Bird Special: $150
Regular Registration: $200
Group Rate of Five: $600