Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference
In previous years, the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference has been held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, which has allowed attendees, exhibitors, and presenters to carve out a physical space to come together, to build a sense of community and togetherness. Undoubtedly, the vibrant energy of the PTWC has been supported and sustained by the Convention Center, allowing the conference to continue to grow. For this reason, it is bittersweet for us to announce our decision to pivot to a virtual conference for 2021. This decision comes after months of thoughtful consideration and preparation. We know that for many, the conference itself as a space, represents community, unity, and connection and for some folks it may be the only space such experiences can be held throughout the year. It pains me that this year, we will not be able to provide that sense of connection, during a time where it’s needed most. I know how disappointing this will feel for some folks, who have come to rely on the sense of community that the convention center facilitates.
This choice was made proactively so that our team had the necessary time and resources to meaningfully develop conference content, using digital platforms. Even with the advent of a vaccine, a conference with such a high level of international participation and attendance, exponentially creates numerous health and safety risks, drawing folks to airports, to hotels, to public transportation, to the convention center, to restaurants, etc. It felt irresponsible of us to create so many vectors to spread the virus for attendees, which would cascade into the general public as well after the conference. While it’s hard to predict where the world will be in the Summer of 2021, it’s simply a risk that is too big to take at this time.
In the move to a virtual conference format, the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference will use this pivot as an opportunity to respond to community feedback regarding the conference dates. We understand that the previous dates, Aug 19-21 were far from ideal for attendees and presenters alike. After consulting with the conference’s Interdisciplinary Review Committee, we excited to announce the new conference dates of July 22-24.
We’ve been hard at work since September, developing a strategy for virtual programming, if such a pivot would be necessary. While, the conference will look different, we’re aiming to develop virtual programming that supports the types of experiences and programs we offered in previous conferences. There will still be workshops, show and tells, exhibitors, panels, shopping, and more, but all from the comfort and safety of home. A virtual conference presents us with a lot of opportunities as well, from expanding programmatic offerings to reaching and welcoming folks who may have been unable to attend previously for a myriad of reasons.
The primary goal of the conference has always been to advance the health, wellness, and safety of the Trans community. We cannot in good conscience, hold a conference that places this community, for whom access to healthcare in this country is already such a burdensome experience, at greater risk in the midst of pandemic that comes with so many unknowns.