Lukas Walther is a gender diversity specialist based in Western Canada, part of a multi-disciplinary group of healthcare providers dedicated to gender identity issues. Since 1997 he has delivered personalized care, support and advocacy to gender-variant and transgender youth through groups, 1:1s, and in collaboration with their parents, care providers, teachers and employers. He provides customized presentations, materials and supports for a wide range of clinical and social agencies, worksites, institutions and conferences, and is a repeat invited speaker at numerous post-secondary campuses throughout the year.
Gender Odyssey Family, an annual international conference now in its 6th year in Seattle, Washington, is well-known by its ever-increasing number of repeat attendees as a life-changing event for families and care providers of trans and gender-exploring youth.
Some conferences are very hands-off, overly organized, academically-based, one-size-fits-all, etc. This one is most definitely not. It is an especially heartfelt conference, very grassroots, well organized, with a strong and present human component.
For those wanting to experience the field of gender beyond an academic setting, this conference will open your eyes to alternative ways of networking, exchanging information and ideas, and making solid connections with others similarly minded. GOF offers families and care providers a staggering range of workshops, from both clinical and lived-experience perspectives.
Families, once in dire need of this conference themselves, now enthusiastically make the annual pilgrimage specifically to lend support to the new families, the new siblings, the new exploring and transitioning youth – all ages, all backgrounds, from around the world. It’s a unique opportunity for parents to get questions and concerns answered, as this conference attracts care providers who want to be accessible, and who invite questions and informal conversations of all sorts.
Just to see the families in a supportive setting is worth the conference trip – watching their confidence and hopes increase, seeing them watch their kids interact with others in a safe environment, and seeing them check out all the well-adjusted trans adults busy doing their thing, whatever that might be, with their own partners, spouses, kids, etc. The host hotel becomes a mini-village for a weekend – OUR mini-village! This Seattle conference, apart from the families, draws about 500 people, a mix of trans folks, allies, care providers, admirers… all bends and blends, from all over North America, including increasing numbers of families from across Canada.
Gender Odyssey continues to be grassroots, and a truly collaborative effort. Much thought goes into workshop and presenter selection; of the clinicians, it tends to host providers who love and are good at what they do, are highly appreciated by their patients, and are comfortable discussing their work and ideas in a conversational and less formal setting.
Honestly, it’s a pure labour of love; that’s what makes it so unique and special, and what keeps me involved, year after year. It’s not slick or overly polished–it’s an inspirational infusion of dedicated love, effort, and communion.
Gender Odyssey Family is a conference for families with a gender-variant/transgender youth, and any and all medical and social care providers and supporters of trans youth. It would also be of interest to anyone working with any youth in a care provision capacity, who wish to learn more about pertinent issues, barriers, and celebrations experienced by gender-variant and transgender youth and their families.