Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

First Event 2010: One Big Happy Transgender Family

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | November 15, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Boston, crossdressing, Massachusetts, Tiffany Club

I will be presenting a keynote address at "First Event 2010" in Peabody, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. First Event, an annual event presented for the past 29 years by The Tiffany Club of New England, will be held January 13-17, 2010.

The Tiffany Club is the oldest and largest transgender support group in New England. First Event welcomes everyone from the transgender community and supporters, including crossdressers, transsexuals, intersex individuals, M2Fs, F2Ms, and significant others. About 600 attendees are expected.

I am looking forward with great anticipation to the conference. I am particularly excited by the opportunity to raise political consciousness about the importance of job equality and how to work together as a community to get it.

A significant issue in the trans community is that we have separate mini-communities. There is a little hierarchy, in some people's minds, with niches for post-operative transsexuals who pass, those who don't pass all the time, those who don't have or don't want surgical intervention, those who crossdress part-time, genderqueers, and other social categories too numerous to mention. In some areas of the country, these groups mix freely; in others, they rarely do.

When I was transitioning back in the 90s, transsexuals rarely mixed with crossdressers in the New York area. In fact, we were warned by older members of the community not to do so. This internalized transphobia is difficult to combat, and I am not immune from it myself on occasion. Today, younger people seem to have left a lot of these attitudes behind.

That is part of why I was especially happy to be asked to speak at First Event 2010. I love being part of a large, diverse community, with all sorts of different identities. I have great respect and love for all trans people, even those who separatists who complain loudly that they aren't part of our transgender community. Here's the press release from The Tiffany Club after the jump.

Paula Howard, Chairperson of the Tiffany Club Board of Directors, announced that Dr. Jillian Weiss, noted expert on transgender workplace issues, will be the keynote speaker at Tiffany Club's FE January 13 - 17, 2010.

"I am delighted to have Jillian Weiss speak at First Event...With pending legislation relating to transgender persons in the workplace, I can't think of a more timely speaker. Jillian is no stranger to First Event, as she has attended the conference before," said Paula

Jillian's study of trangender workplace issues was prompted by her own job loss as a result of transitioning in 1998. "I knew many others who had the same experience. As a lawyer, I was interested in why the law allowed this, and how law might begin to address the issues faced by trans people in employment, "said Jillian.

Since 2000, she has been one of a handful of researchers focusing on the issue from a legal perspective. She has conducted research involving hundreds of companies and public agencies that have adopted "gender identity" policies. She publishes a popular blog on the subject of Transgender Workplace Diversity, and has numerous research publications on the subject of gender identity. Her work has been featured in news stories by the New York Times, Associated Press, Fortune Small Business Magazine, the Society for Human Resource Management, Workforce Management Magazine, and HR Executive Magazine. In addition, she is the author of Transgender Workplace Diversity: Policy Tools, Training Issues and Communication Strategies for HR and Legal Professionals, one of the few books currently available on the subject. She has a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Law, Policy & Society and is an Associate Professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

However, she is not only a researcher, but also an advocate for transgender rights in the workplace. Says Jillian, "Transgender people are often unable to obtain work, are harassed or are fired because of their gender identity and gender expression. Others feel limited in their ability to express their gender freely for fear of such problems. The efforts of employers who express a desire to be helpful often fall short because they are so uneducated about trans issues. To address this, I have created clear and robust policies and training for employers of all sizes, including major organizations such as Boeing, Harvard University and New York City"

Her message to First Event attendees will be that we must come together and rise up as a community to demand respect, especially in regard to respect from the law. The ability to get and keep a good job without fear of discrimination is essential for success in life. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would stop job discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression, requires our full participation in order to pass into law in 2010. That Act, however, and others like it in many states and cities around the country are only the first step in an educational process. These laws are tools that can be used to educate employers, managers and co-workers to welcome gender diversity. We must educate America to understand that transgender people are full and valued members of society.

For more information about Jillian and her work go to http://bit.ly/jtweiss.

For the past 29 years, Tiffany Club's First Event has been one of the premier transgender conferences in the United States. FE 2010 will be held at the Boston Peabody Marriot in Peabody, MA from January 13-17.

First Event 2010 is anticipating over 600 attendees this year and will feature daytime workshops of interest to the entire transgender, spouse, partner and allies community. Evening entertainment will include a number of special activities. Tiffany Club's Saturday night community recognition awards banquet and keynote will cap off the exciting event.

Registration forms and information for Tiffany Club's First Event 2010 Transgender Conference are located at the club's web site at http://www.tcne.org or by calling the club's First Event program office at 802-356-4582 or via email at firstevent@tcne.org.

Tiffany Club of New England, the sponsor of First Event 2010, is a 5013C non-profit corporation and an open resource and support organization for all parts of the transgender community from cross dressers to transsexuals, both Male-to-Female and Female-to-Male, allies and intersexed persons.


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Angela Brightfeather | November 15, 2009 1:36 PM

Cngratulations Jillian on being asked to give the keynote address at First Event.

I echo your feelings about the Transgender Community as it applies to all of the artificial divisions and add that if others looked at our community as the diverse group that it is and considered it as you do, a benefit and example of what diverse people can do, we might all be better of and more respected.

Since you are heading to First Event and the Tiffany Club, the area where most of our "organized" beginnings as a community began back in the early 80's with the Tiffany Club, the International Foundation for Gender Eduction and gatherings like Fantasia Fair, you are bringing with you the heart and spirit that joined many of us together back then.

There were no divisions back then. We were all in it with the thought that all Transgender people needed to have equal rights and all Transgender people were being badly discriminated against.

It has gotten better for some since back then, but you and your work with ENDA are the cherry on our hot fudge sunday and the proof that the leaders of today in our community, draw no superficial or parochial distinctions about gender diverse people. They realize that we are all in this together.

Good luck and speak about what is in your heart. Look beyond any differences and always remember that the most important person in the room is the one who is coming out for the first time. First Event has always honored that tradition.

This is great, Jill. Enjoy it, my friend.

Thank you, Angela and Diego, for your warm wishes.