Facilitate a Gender Odyssey Generated Session

At the heart of our conference programming are topic-based discussions generated by Gender Odyssey attendee feedback and input. We’ve designed these discussions so that anyone – regardless of their identity, history, or community – can bring their personal perspective into the mix.

Gender Odyssey discussions have a strong focus on making room for each person’s viewpoint and giving all of us the opportunity to learn from one another. They are designed to encourage us to explore the complexities of how we interact with each other and with the larger society.

If you have strong facilitation skills and are drawn to one or two of the sessions listed below, we encourage you to fill out the online form at the bottom of this page. We will then be in touch for a telephone interview.

Note: These sessions are designed to be facilitated discussions with optimal involvement by the greatest number of participants.  We are not asking you to develop a presentation—only facilitate a dynamic conversation!


Available Sessions

If you have questions about a specific topic or any other programming related matter, please email us at workshops@genderodyssey.org.

Actually, I Use a Different Pronoun – Young Adult & Teen

Taking on the role of an educator/activist should be a choice, not a prison we’re forced into simply because of our gender expression or identity. How can we make sure we’re doing this kind of education from an empowered place within ourselves? This workshop will cover ways in which we can communicate with those around us about pronoun usage, new and evolving language for our identities, problematic gender designations on forms, accessing gendered places like bathrooms, and supporting our right to educate others when, or if, we feel like it.

Adventures in Dating – Open to All

People-of-color (POC) can face many race- or ethnicity-based myths, stereotypes, or preconceptions that can complicate the dating process. When the complexity of a diverse gender identity or expression is factored in, the issue becomes that much more layered. Join other trans people-of-color in this session exploring the world of dating and relationships. Share your experiences—good, bad, or confusing—and let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Authenticity: Reconciling Past and Present – Open to All

How do you stay in your skin? What helps you be your truest self? How do you integrate your past with your present and still stay sane? What happens to you when you are your most authentic self? What happens to those around you? Do they move in closer or take a step back? Let’s share our stories in a non-judgmental way—in a way that comes from our hearts.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Buddy Up! – Open to All

Is this your first time at Gender Odyssey? Perhaps you are a seasoned veteran wanting to meet new people? Are you looking for others who share a particular interest? It can be challenging to find ways to connect with folks from across the country and beyond as you are hustling from one workshop to the next. If one of your goals for the weekend is to make some solid connections, this is your chance to get started. Get a jump on meeting folks in this session designed for just that purpose, and find buddies to hang with for the weekend, or perhaps even a lifetime.

Celebrating Femininity: Claiming Our Space – Trans Women

Most of the time it seems like trans women are simply tolerated—or become the exclusionary exception—in women’s communities and spaces. Trans women frequently have been asked to hold their tongue, to not take up space as if to compensate for previous years of perceived “male privilege.” In a world where masculinity is seen as both the pinnacle to strive for and the expression of the oppressor, trans women are in a catch-22 in which their expression of either masculinity or femininity is suspect. There are rarely, if ever, spaces where trans women are not only accepted, but are encouraged and rewarded for being strong, empowered women—for being our diverse and beautiful selves. Trans women do take up space, trans women do have something to say, and our voices are worthy of celebration. This workshop is for trans women to collaborate with each other, discuss ways we can honor our diverse selves, and find ways to support each other within our various communities.
Note: We welcome our non-trans women allies as supportive listeners to this session focusing on trans women’s experience and voices.

Chest Surgery Show and Tell – Open to All

Contemplating chest surgery and don’t know where to start? Do you have some great surgery results you want to share with others? Do you wish you had done something different and want to let others know? Join this facilitated show and tell and listen to the stories of others as they discuss which surgeons they chose and why, their experiences with surgeons and staff, how much they spent, how pleased/displeased they are with the results, and more.

Class Dismissed – Open to All

Poverty is an enormous issue in trans communities, and one that is too rarely addressed. How does the myth of a class-less society, or the assumption that upper/middle class is the norm, impact the many trans people who are struggling to survive? Who is setting the agenda for trans liberation, and what important issues are being overlooked? What makes it hard to talk about our own class backgrounds and current economic resources? What actions can we take to address classism in our everyday lives? How can we connect with other movements to work for economic justice? Let’s discuss ways in which we can work toward a vision of trans liberation that is truly inclusive.

Class: Bringing it out of the Closet – Open to All

What are the parts of your class background or current class experience that don’t fit with each other? Do you identify with a particular social class, or with several? Do others make classed assumptions about you that aren’t true? Do you find yourself hiding or editing parts of yourself because they don’t match others’ perceptions of who you are? Sometimes our class status changes dramatically with our pursuit toward gender authenticity. These changes can be shocking, destabilizing, empowering, or unfamiliar. You are not alone and we hope to hear and support each other in this dialogue.

Coming Out and Disclosure – Young Adult & Teen

The question of when and how to tell friends and family (not to mention those at school, work, or in your neighborhood) that you are trans is a difficult one for anyone at any age. It can be especially difficult for young trans people. We may still rely on our families for housing or support and we’ve likely heard the stories of others who’ve lost this support because they disclosed their trans status. How do we navigate this issue? Do we come out to one parent only? To some friends, but not all? Do we tell everyone in a letter after the fact or invite them in to our day-by-day exploration? What are ways in which we can find support for ourselves? How much can we expect from others and in what time frame? Come share your stories and hear the experiences of others as we seek to find the best path for ourselves as we navigate this difficult topic.
Note: Open only to trans-identified teens and young adults.

Creating a Gender Tool Kit – Open to All

What can I get for you ladies?. . . Hey, this is the men’s room! . . . Are you a drag queen? Many of us have been misread and/or challenged based on the false assumptions or perceptions of others, and then had to stumble or stutter our way out of it. The perfect response or comeback usually arrives . . . but hours or days too late. Educating others can be exhausting, and sometimes having the right thing to say worked out in advance can bypass an awkward moment and/or be more effective than an off-the-cuff response. In this workshop, we will examine how to effect positive change by responding in gentle, humorous, or matter-of-fact ways rather than pushing back. Let’s brainstorm and share ways to let people know that they need to look beyond their initial assumptions . . . without doing so at our expense. Bring your own stories, listen to those of others, and then take home a toolkit of humorous deflections, snappy comebacks, and other responses we can use to change the world, one encounter at a time. Bring your notebooks!

A Different Take on Passing – Trans Women

Trans women are often held to very rigid and demanding standards of femininity: the slightest deviation from “ideal” femininity can be read as failure. How does our desire to have our gender read correctly interplay with our desire to be authentically ourselves? How can we avoid buying into a regressive and unrealistic version of what constitutes “real” femininity? In what ways does the mythic ideal of femininity change depending on factors such as our class, race, geography, and ability? What about the barrage of messages we receive from the media, including the representation of the “ideal” trans woman deemed palatable to the masses? Join us in a conversation that is sure to have as many opinions as there are attendees.

Intersection of Ability and Gender: A Conversation – Open to All

Have you ever felt that you were made invisible by the very visibility of your disability? Perhaps you’ve felt your disability’s lack of outward cues leaves you out in the cold. How does your disability affect how you experience your gender or how others acknowledge your gender identity? In this town meeting, we will discuss how we embody gender in a society that often overlooks, ignores, and stigmatizes people with disabilities. This session is open to people of all genders with hidden or visible disabilities as well as their partners, friends, and allies.

In this session, we aim to share our personal experiences and know that they will be heard, and to listen to others with the intent to learn from—not judge—their experiences. Bring concrete examples from your own life to add to a larger picture of the complex and challenging ways we individually and jointly construct our lives and our culture.

Disclosure, Coming Out, and Degrees of Privacy – Open to All

How do you do it? If that isn’t the most understated question ever! The hows, whens, and even ifs of disclosing our gender status/history to another person are potentially as unique as each person, place, and/or time involved whenever this question of disclosure arises. Do you disclose to everyone? No one? Only family? In your neighborhood or on the job? How do you share your gender history to some people but not to others? Does the level of disclosure in your life impact your ability to be fully engaged? In what ways?  Share your experiences and insights. Learn from the stories of others. There’s no right or wrong here, just ideas and suggestions for how to navigate a complex issue.

Fag 101: The Invisible Man – Open to All

Gay male culture can hold particular challenges for trans and genderqueer people. Gay masculine and feminine norms may still leave us on the outside looking in. In the world of jocks, bears, twinks, and queens, where do we fit in?  How do we get other guys to read our gender correctly and see us as the awesome dating material that we are? How do we find—or build—social spaces that are inclusive to trans and cis men? Let’s share our experiences of navigating oh-so-fabulous gay space while we find ways to increase our dating confidence.
Note: This workshop is for those navigating (or wanting to navigate) gay male space.

Families: You’re Doing What? – Part One – Family Members of a Trans Person

What do you say when your son says he’s really your daughter, or your sister says she’s really your brother? Or any other mind-bending “switch” for that matter? For many of us, understanding gender identity and our loved one’s decision to transition is uncharted territory. The “whys” we have in our heads can be scary and overwhelming. We sometimes make desperate attempts to understand the complexities of our family member’s new gender identity. In this first of two workshops, we will share our feelings, listen to each other’s experiences, and ask questions in a comfortable, confidential environment.
Note: This is a closed, facilitated discussion for those of us who would like help, support, or simply a friendly ear in a confidential environment. The focus of the discussion will be on issues related to non-trans-identified parents, siblings, children ,and friends of trans people. Not a partner session.

Families: After the Dust Settles – Part Two – Family Members of a Trans Person

This is a continuation of the closed, facilitated discussion for those whose family member (child, parent, sibling, or other family member) is transitioning. In this workshop, we will examine some of the issues and feelings that may arise as we, and our loved ones, reexamine the concept of gender identity. Some of these include feeling a sense of loss or confusion (e.g., losing a daughter even though you now have a son, or trying to understand concepts like “genderfluid”). What happens when we disclose too much to others, or perhaps not enough? How will we deal with others’ reactions or questions? How does our background or culture affect our feelings and views? Most importantly, we’ll examine the need for compassion and patience for ourselves and our loved one while we make this journey of discovery and change. Come join us for help and support in a confidential environment.
Note: You do not need to have attended the first session to participate in this session. Not a partner session.

Fasten Your Seatbelts: Our Relationships Transition, Too. – Partners

A gender transition isn’t just about pronouns, hormones, and surgery. It’s also about subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in family dynamics, relationship balance, sexual practice, and sometimes the very ground under our feet. In this session for non-transitioning partners, we will look at what changes, what stays the same, and how sometimes the expected changes can manifest in unanticipated ways.

Father Stories – Open to All

Is your father your biggest hero? Was he absent or unsupportive? How has your gender identity affected your relationship to your own parenting? Let’s share our stories of having a father, not having a father, wanting to be a father, being (or not being able to be) a biological father, and learning to be a father.
Note: We may limit the time any single person can share so as to optimize the greatest amount of participation.

Fear, Violence & Community – Open to All

Being perceived as queer, trans, gender-fluid, or simply as men or women can make us targets for violence and intimidation, even within communities where we expect (or once expected) to feel safe. Our own experiences and hardships can sometimes increase our stress to the breaking point. How has your gender presentation and/or transition impacted your physical and emotional safety? How have fear and violence been part of your life, and how have the people in your life responded? Did your community offer support and healing, or vilification and blame? Does your masculinity make it easy for others to see you as sexist or violent, or your femininity as passive or weak? Has your original gender socialization as female/male inadvertently left you without the tools to navigate a different gender role in our culture? Join us as we share and hear our respective experiences.

Gender Lexicon – Open to All

The transgender lexicon seems to change weekly, if not more often than that. For some, this elusive compilation of labels is frustrating, confusing, and at times, alienating. Others feel that to truly embrace gender’s full complexity, we must have evolving, organic language. Often, this conversation is limited to simple explanations of why individuals like or dislike certain terms. Let’s get a bird’s-eye view of our communities’ gender identity language and framework with a goal of understanding our own processes.

Get it On: Sex and Intimacy for Cis Partners – Partners

Have you been with your partner through transition and noticed shifts in your sexual connection or chemistry? Want to have great sex with your trans partner but feel awkward when the lights go out? How do you choose words to describe sex and body parts? Does the equipment you use for sex and play take on different meaning if your partner has transitioned? Do you wonder how to sustain sexual intimacy in the face of obstacles such as trauma and body shame? Share your own experiences and questions in this confidential workshop.
Note: Open to past, present, or future cis partners of trans people. You do not need to be in a relationship to attend.

Getting the Grade: How to Access College and Succeed – Teen and Young Adult

College is for everyone . . . isn’t it? Come to this workshop and learn more about ways to apply, attend, and succeed in college with both your identity and sanity intact. We’ll look at some ways to deal with administrative barriers, handle instances of harassment, gain access to gendered spaces, and how to evaluate which campus communities are safe and welcoming for you. We’ll allot plenty of time to addressing individual questions and circumstances.

Grief, Loss, and Transformation: Partners and Transition – Partners

When our partner moves towards being their authentic self, many of us celebrate their transformation. However, sometimes our desire to be supportive can result in the repression of our own emotions. We may feel guilty for not always being the compassionate partner we “should” be. Our own feelings of grief and loss may be hard to articulate. We may have trouble finding the support and understanding we need. In this closed, partners-only session, we’ll be able to make room for some of that grief, let some go, and find ways to support one another.
Note: This is open only for non-trans partners of people who are physically or socially transitioning, have transitioned, or are considering transition. You do not need to currently be in a relationship to attend.

Head-to-Toe Health – Open to All

What are the common health concerns you should keep in mind during and after transition? Let’s discuss guidelines for staying healthy, including monitoring hormone levels and changes in blood values, accessing important screening tests and exams, protecting your liver/heart screening exams, and managing post-surgery care. Bring your questions, and empower yourself to take charge of your health care.

Hormones 101 – Open to All

This workshop presents a general overview of hormonal therapy. Testosterone, an anabolic steroid, is a powerful drug that can give desired masculinizing effects while estrogen has feminizing effects. It is important that you know the details about the types of hormones, timing, dosing amount, adverse side effects, etc., to protect your health and maximize the desired effects. Come to this informative workshop and learn more about hormones and their administration.

How Do You Measure Up? Navigating the Notions of Being “Too” Short or Tall – Open to All

What does it mean in today’s society to be a six-foot-three woman? A five-foot-tall man? Height plays a very important factor in how we are perceived—or even if we are perceived. Masculinity is measured by size, the taller the better, and femininity often connotes that we will be shy, demure, and certainly not taking up space. What are the ways in which your height impacts your work life, social life, dating, or just day-to-day existence? Are there advantages to being shorter/taller than “average”? How do we empower ourselves to be fully in our bodies and take up/claim the space that is rightfully ours? Join us as we begin this dialogue of how far one must travel to either reach the stars or smell the roses.

An Immigrant History and the Trans Experience – Open to All

What is it like to come from an immigrant experience and simultaneously identify as trans and/or queer? Has your family been accepting? Does that acceptance, or lack of it, vary inter-generationally? Oftentimes, 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-generation immigrant families live in close proximity with each other—in barrios, for example, and other culturally-constructed communities. Sometimes there is little to no cultural language to describe a trans experience. Or, if there is, that language is borrowed from western European culture and perhaps considered suspect as a result. A trans person is often placed in the position of having to choose between their family/community and their personal trans identity. Bring your heart and thoughts to this important discussion and we’ll make space for this unique experience.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Hysto Stories – Open to All

Hysterectomies are common, but information about these procedures as they relate to transmen is difficult to find. Are there unique considerations to know about? Are there factors that change depending on whether you’ve been on testosterone for 5 years? 10 or 20? What about sex and orgasm—does that change after surgery? Was it difficult to find a surgeon who would perform the surgery for you? If you had insurance, was it covered? What was your recovery like? In this session, we’ll explore these questions and more. We’d like you to share your experience with others so that we can learn from each other—whether your experience was good, bad, or somewhere in between. Until there is more research, we still have each other! Open to all.  

Interracial Relationships: It’s Not All Black and White – Open to All

Interracial relationships can be challenging and complicated, especially when your partner is transgender or gender nonconforming. Do racial dynamics sometimes impact your relationship in unanticipated ways? Has the dynamic between you and your partner changed as your partner’s gender shifts and evolves, or as their presentation changes? How comfortable are you with the ways you are perceived by the outside world? Are there things you like about it? Things that make you crazy? Let’s examine the added dimension that race brings to our relationships. This workshop is designed for each of us to bring our own experience(s) to share with others. Please respect this space and share from your heart and your experience only.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of those who are or have been in interracial relationships but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Intersections of Bodies, Ability, and Gender – Open to All

Have you ever felt that you were made invisible by the very visibility of your different physical ability? Perhaps you’ve felt your body’s lack of outward cues of difference leaves you out in the cold. How do varying levels of ability affect our experience of our gender? In this town meeting, we will discuss how we embody gender in a society that often overlooks, ignores, and stigmatizes people with different bodies and different capacities.
Note: This session is open to people of all abilities and all gender presentations as well as their partners, friends, and allies.

Intersections of Trans Identity and Aging – Open to All

As we age, things change—physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually! We live in a culture that stigmatizes getting older, despite that it’s a reality for us all. The subject of aging in general is often swept under the rug, and trans elders face significant additional challenges that only add to our fears and concerns. As aging AND transgender people, we need to be prepared. This interactive, facilitated discussion will allow us to hear each other’s stories and share our individual experiences with the goal of attaining strategies, tips, concerns, and camaraderie for this uncharted path.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of who are of the baby boomer generation and older but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

It’s My Transition Too – ALL Partners

A gender transition isn’t just about pronouns, hormones, and surgery. It’s also about subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in family dynamics, relationship balance, sexual practice, and sometimes the very ground under our feet. In this session for partners, we will look at what changes, what stays the same, and how sometimes the expected changes can manifest in unanticipated ways.
Note: This session is open to all partners of trans/gender-nonconforming people. This includes those who are trans-identified themselves. 

It’s Not Just a Phase – Open to All

When it comes to gender-nonconforming people, we often hear: “It’s just a phase.” Old assumptions insist that gender transitions move seamlessly from “point A” to “point B.” Gender-fluid identities are dismissed as being temporary placeholders while we look for our “real” identities. Lately, the rediscovery of androgyny in popular culture has opened the door to accusations that gender-benders are just trying to be hip. Either way, we’re not taken seriously! The truth is, genderqueer—by whatever name we call it—is a legitimate and meaningful personal identity. In this workshop, we’ll explore the multifaceted nature of gender and how our expressions of gender can change—even from day to day. How do you name, construct, and express your gender-queering? Let’s find out!

Just One of the Gals – Open to All

How many of us, assigned male at birth, have felt robbed of the opportunity to bond with other women? Without this camaraderie of female friendships, we may feel that our social circles were, or perhaps still are, incomplete. Some of us have been able, as transgender adults, to find the female friendships we longed for in our youth. For trans women, moving from one world to another one—becoming “one of the gals”—can be a transition within a transition. Join us as we explore what it means to be a woman in relationship to other women, and to experience our femininity with other women whose background and socialization differ from our own.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of trans women but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Just One of the Guys – Open to All

How many of us, assigned female at birth, have felt robbed of the opportunity to bond with other men? Without this camaraderie of male friendships, we may feel that our social circles were, or perhaps are still, incomplete. Some of us have been able, as transgender adults, to find the male friendships we longed for in our youth. For transmen, moving from one experience to a completely new one—becoming “one of the guys”—can be a transition within a transition. Join us as we explore what it means to be a man in relationship to other men, and to experience our masculinity with other guys whose background and socialization differ from our own.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of trans men but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Just Us: Trans People Who Identify on the African Diaspora – Open to All

This workshop is designed to create a space specifically for anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies as African, African-American, or as any part of the African diaspora. You’ve imagined this space, you’ve asked for this space, now let’s show up and get real. Let’s engage each other openly and freely.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people of African descent but is open to all who wish to listen, learn and grow.

Leadership and Organizing – Open to All

If you have chosen a leadership role, what attracted you to lead? Or, did leadership find you by default? If you have been a leader or activist in your city/hometown, have you changed your point of view about leading as time passed? What pitfalls or limitations have you found in how you’ve chosen to lead and/or organize? What methods have been successful and lasting? How do you prevent burnout? Has your style of leadership conflicted with others in your community? Have you received support from unexpected places? Come share your experiences, listen to the successes and pitfalls of others, and learn from each other.

Legal Issues 101 – Open to All

Legal Issues 201 – Open to All

The Lighter Side of Race – Open to All

Frequently, when someone mentions the word race, the conversation centers on the experiences and challenges of those who are black. While this examination is crucial, the voices of other people-of-color who may be of Asian, Latino, Indigenous, Middle Eastern, or mixed-race descent are also in need of being heard. Navigating our gender in a society that ascribes to a two-gender system and still contemplates race most often as a black/white issue can leave us on the sidelines saying: “Well, that’s not my experience.” Let’s share our experiences with each other and create the dialogue we strain to hear.
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

Lost At Work? Navigating Employment Rights – Teen and Young Adult

Can a prospective employer ask you questions about your gender identity? What can you do if a coworker or supervisor harasses you at work? What are your rights if an employer terminates you because of your gender identity? The law provides various levels of protection for gender-nonconforming and transgender job applicants and employees. Come to this workshop to learn your employment rights from the application stage through termination. Through a facilitated discussion, we will also discuss practical approaches for responding to workplace harassment and employment discrimination.
Note: Open only to trans-identified teens and young adults.

Mother Stories – Open to All

Is your mother the rock of the family? Was she a great supporter or your greatest critic? How has your gender identity affected your relationship to your own parenting? Let’s share our stories of having a mother, not having a mother, wanting to be a mother, being (or not being able to be) a biological mother, and learning to be a mother.
Note: We may limit the time any single person can share so as to optimize the greatest amount of participation.

Making Room for Different Ways of Being MTF – Trans Women

Trans women are often held to very rigid and demanding standards of femininity—the slightest deviation from “ideal” femininity can be read as failure. How does our desire to have our gender read correctly interplay with our desire to be authentically ourselves? How can we avoid buying into a regressive and unrealistic version of what constitutes “real” femininity? In what ways does the mythic ideal of femininity change depending on factors such as our class, race, where we live, our age, and level of ability?
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of trans women but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

The Mirror Must Be Lying: Body Image – Teen and Young Adult

In this peer-facilitated discussion, we will talk about how we feel about our bodies. Does this affect our daily lives and interactions with others? How do we manage puberty and its continual impact on our physical and mental development? Do the media, friends, or other trans people impact your perception of how your body should look? Do you struggle with things like eating disorders as a result? How do your clothing choices help or hinder your body image? Come share your experiences and thoughts! 

Navigating Family in Communities of Color – Open to All

In many ethnic minority communities, our families are an important source of strength. They may even be the one thing we can’t afford to risk losing. Perhaps we always knew they would love and support us no matter what . . . until we began considering transition. We may feel we have to move away from home, family, and friends, or wait for a parent to die, before beginning transition. How do our race, our communities, and our families affect the choices we make regarding gender?
Note: This conversation will be centered on the experiences of people-of-color but is open to all who wish to listen, learn, and grow.

No Apology Necessary – Trans Men

Many trans people feel that there is no distinct and definitive line between the genders. Some have found, however, that we’re perceived as having crossed a line when we are fully recognized as male. Many of us who have been living as male for a number of years experience unjustified targeting as the embodiment of patriarchal culture. This shows up in accusations of misogyny, or in demands that we become the model man, apologize for our masculinity, or deny any claim to manhood at all. How do we come to terms with our own maleness in light of messages (inaccurately framed as “feminist”) that men are the enemy? What happens when we seek to empower ourselves as whole human beings and are seen as trading oppression for privilege? In what ways can we/do we truly celebrate and embrace our masculinity? Come share your thoughts and experiences with other transmen.
Note: This closed session is for trans men who have been fully and intentionally recognized as male.

Okay, Cupid, How Do I Do This? – Open to All

Where’s the how-to manual for trans people and dating? Dating can be challenging for anyone without the added challenge of our trans bodies and experiences. How do I meet friends who may become more than friends?  If I put up an online ad, do I disclose my gender status up front or wait until I’ve had a date or two? Until it’s time to be sexual? Later than that? How does this change if I am pre-op, post-op, non-op? If I do talk about it, what is a reasonable way in which to do it that respects the person to whom I’m disclosing but also—even especially—respects myself? Join us for a frank, honest discussion as we share our stories and learn from each other.

On the Trans Fringe – Partners

Most people would agree that when you are the partner of someone exploring or pursuing a gender transition, your life changes as well. Challenges to personal identity can come from within ourselves or may be put upon us by others. What happens when your identity as a gay man is called into question because you are dating a trans woman or a trans man? Are you a straight female partner of a transwoman and now wondering how you suddenly became a lesbian? Are you someone who’s never been part of LGBTQ community and suddenly find yourself thrust into LGBTQ culture replete with all its stigma, challenges, and politics? Even in conferences like these, there are partners like us whose experiences and identities seem relegated to the sidelines. Join us in this session where we will explore these questions and more.
Note: This closed session is specifically for partners of people who are physically or socially transitioning, have transitioned, or are considering transition. You do not need to currently be in a relationship to attend.

Phat Cat – Open to All

Discussions of being overweight are so often solely focused on health and dieting. It sure doesn’t stop there! Our size can impact our lives in so many ways and as trans* people, this is especially so. We may have familiarity with the ways society treats us as fat people, but then a gender transition turns that on it’s head in some very unexpected ways! Societal attitudes towards us can vary dramatically depending on whether we are in straight, gay, or lesbian communities and the values those respective communities espouse. How does this impact how we date, love, live, and feel about ourselves?  In what ways do factors such as our age, height, or skin color complicate our relationship to our size and our gender? This workshop is a forum for anyone on the large size of the gender spectrum to speak our minds on the subject of being fat.

Rituals: The Reclamation of Rites of Passage – Open to All

Many of us have experienced certain rites of passage growing up and/or into adulthood, but our gender identity may have prevented us from having a true connection to them. Or these experiences are ones we generally can’t currently share because of our gender history. Do you have rituals now that keep you grounded? What are some visions and dreams that map your journey? How do you find your right path as you explore new rites of passage such as starting a family, choosing a line of work, or establishing yourself in community? Come to this session and share/create the ways you move along your true path.

The Race/Gender Balancing Act: Privileges and Challenges – Open to All

A gender transition can result in new experiences of privilege—both lost and gained—but that experience may be nowhere near the same for trans people-of-color as it is for white trans people. Has your relationship to race transitioned along with your gender? What was expected and what has taken you by surprise? How does acquiring male privilege balance with the losses that come with living as trans? Or, have you transitioned to female and discovered a far less friendly world? More friendly? Come share your experience and hear the stories of others as we explore the inextricable relationship between our gender and our skin color.
 Note: Open to all who desire to share from their own experience.

Rules of Attraction – Open to All

Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual . . . wait, is it transsexual? There are few descriptors for those who are specifically attracted to trans people. For trans people, how does the lack of descriptors affect our ability to feel sexy and desirable? How do we know if someone’s attraction to us is based on a gender fetish? Do we ourselves fetishize non-trans bodies? As non-trans people, are our motives questioned when we choose a trans lover? Are they questioned when we state that we prefer to date trans people? How can we claim our desire for trans bodies as a legitimate sexual orientation? How do we deal with language that assumes we’d rather date non-trans people? Join us for an in-depth discussion of navigating dating, sex, and intimacy with bodies that aren’t recognized by the current language of sexual orientation. Let’s talk about getting confident in our own sexiness, and making room for trans-specific desire.

Seven-Year Itch – Open to All

Many years have passed since you physically transitioned, and the impact it had on job, family, relationship, medical issues, and the like has faded a bit into the past. What’s going on in your world now? Your gender may no longer be an issue in most of your personal relationships, but where and how does it pop up? Are you back in the dating pool with no idea how to begin? Are you reconsidering living stealth, or out? Where do you disclose your gender, and where do you find it to be irrelevant?
Note: The focus of this workshop is on people who are five or more years post-transition. All are welcome to listen, but we ask that you respect the intent to create a focused conversation relevant to this particular sub-set of trans community.

Seven-Year Itch: Partners – Open to All

Many years have passed since your loved one physically transitioned, and the impact it had on your immediate family, relationship, and the like has faded a bit. Your loved one’s gender—and your relationship to them—may no longer be a day-to-day issue. But, where else does it pop up? Are you finding ways to be proud of your loved one’s gender while still claiming your own unique identity? Has a health issue come up that again puts you or your loved one out on the front lines of defending gender? How are you affected now by your loved one’s choice to live stealth or out?
Note: This workshop focuses on the experiences of those who are five or more years beyond their partner’s transition.

Sexuality, Intimacy, and Our Bodies – Double Session – Open to All

Did you have a strong foundation in your sexuality only to find it shifting as you began transitioning? Do you find yourself in a new “brand” of sexual orientation without the rulebook? Are you afraid your partner’s interests will shift with his transition? Sometimes a gender shift puts us into a new category where the social cues and behaviors are unfamiliar. Have you experienced a shift in relation to whom you date or partner with? Was this exciting for you, scary, or difficult?

When non-trans people are attracted to us, are they redefining their sexual orientation to include us, or simply objectifying us? Neither? How do we know if someone’s attraction to us is based on a gender fetish? Might we mistakenly question someone’s desire for us because of our lack of confidence in our own bodies? Is the legitimacy of your love for a trans person questioned because you are non-trans?

Speaking of bodies, how comfortable are you sharing yours with someone else? Has your ability to express yourself intimately changed with your transition? In what ways? If you haven’t gone through a physical transition, how does this affect your relationship(s)?
Note: As you consider what to say during—and after—this discussion, please be respectful of its intimate nature and aware that it is taking place in a public forum. Share only what you feel comfortable sharing.

Shifting Identities, Expanding Desires – Partners

Whether our partners are post transition, just beginning to question their gender, or negotiating an identity somewhere in the middle, their journeys can have major implications for our feelings about sex and attraction. Were you involved primarily with women and never expected to be having sex with someone trans or male-identified? How do you feel about your partner’s body—including their new smell, look, or changing parts? Is being with your partner opening you up to new sexual desires? Are your ideas about your sexual orientation shifting? Depending on numbers, there may be break-out groups for lesbian, bi-/queer-identified, straight, and gay partners.
Note: This workshop will provide a confidential space and is open only to non-trans-identified people to talk frankly about fears, challenges, pleasures, and desire.

Showing Up: The Pursuit of Authenticity – Open to All

How do you stay in your skin? What helps you to be your truest self? How do you integrate your past with your present and still stay sane? What happens to you when you are your most authentic self? What happens to those around you? Let’s share our stories in a non-judgmental way—in a way that comes from our hearts.

Some Time Ago: A Conversation Between Elders – Open to All

Trans elders are invited to share our “from-the-heart” stories with each other in this “fishbowl” format. We’ll share our stories of courage and fear, hardship and success, where we’ve fallen down and how we’ve gotten back up. The goal of this workshop is not only to connect with each other but also to share our stories with younger generations as we explore our desire to create a future that is both nurturing and safe.
Note: Elders are invited into the circle but all others are invited just to listen to/witness what is sure to be a powerful conversation.

Spirituality – Open to All

Some sense of spirituality has been intrinsic to many of our lives, either in our childhood upbringing or as a path we are currently pursuing. Others may feel that our trans identities preclude us from having any spirituality or that our identities are in conflict with moral laws, and therefore we are not welcome in some places of worship. Have you left behind an expression of faith that was once very important to you? Do you continue to be part of a congregation where others are unaware of your trans identity? Many of us have embraced alternative beliefs or developed our own sense of spirituality that serves us in a more holistic way. Have you worked within a religious community to create a more inclusive environment and how successful were you? How does your spirituality intersect with your work for social change? Let’s share our experiences with regard to our search for fulfillment.

Supporting Our Partners and Allies as We Transition – Teen & Young Adult

A gender transition can be overwhelming and liberating, but the resulting tunnel vision can be extremely difficult on those around us. In this workshop, we will discuss ways of giving back to our partners, families, and friends so that we may be proactive in preserving our relationships through these challenging times.

Trans on Trans Relationships – Trans/GQ partners

This workshop is for transgender or genderqueer people and their trans/GQ partners. Join us in examining issues related to transitioning and how we deal with them when there is a LOT of gender going on!
What are the unique issues relevant to our relationships? What happens when one person takes hormones or has surgery and the other doesn’t? What pressures or anxieties come up for either person? How do you avoid comparisons or feelings of competitiveness? Do others consider one of you “more trans” than the other? What happens when both partners transition? The intricacies of our relationships are too numerous to mention so show up to this workshop and let’s get everything on the table.
Note: Open only to trans or genderqueer partners who are, have been, or expect to be in a relationship with other trans/GQ people.

Trans Parenting – Open to All

Starting a family can be viewed by our society as an important rite of passage, and many of us find that we aren’t seen as fully adult until we marry and have kids. How does this dynamic change when our relationships are atypical, or when our status as trans people makes adoption our best option for becoming parents? What are the many variables we consider when contemplating our creation of family? Join us for a discussion—not a “how to parent” discussion, but just what it all means.

Trans-er Than Thou – Open to All

It may not be hard for those of us at this conference to reach a consensus regarding the outside world’s view of transgender people. We might easily agree that trans people are discriminated against and misunderstood by many in the outside world. But what happens when we, ourselves, look at the differences within our collective gender communities? Are we just as uninformed and biased in our own thinking as those we consider “outside”? Do we make our own rigid determinations about the “real” ways of being trans? How do we make those determinations? Is it along class lines (e.g., financially inaccessible surgeries being considered markers for “real” trans people)? Whether we’re living as trans full time? By appearance, or who’s queerest?
This session is not about assigning blame. It’s about creating conversations wherein we can each examine our own discomfort with difference. We’ll look at these differences with a goal of gaining a fresh perspective and a chance to celebrate our unique lives together.

Transition: What’s the Rush? – Open to All

How can I transition now—I’m 65? I love living in the middle of gender, so why can’t people be okay with me being the way I am? My family will NOT accept this—it’s completely outside of our culture and how can I risk losing them? I don’t think my education or career will survive a gender transition. I want surgery but no hormones, is that okay? Can I take just a small amount of hormones? If you have these or other thoughts about a physical transition, come share them in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. This discussion is designed to explore the imperfect process and experience of a physical transition. Many of us have explored or considered variables that don’t fit within the “traditional” trans narratives. Let’s share them with each other and think outside the box of should I… or shouldn’t I…?

Transitioning during the Elder Years – Open to All

Many of us elders came of age in a time when transgender people were severely stigmatized. We kept our identities hidden for decades and are only now coming out and transitioning—right when the aging process is ramping up! What are our reasons? What are our special health, social, and other concerns that come with a transition decision or even an exploration of whether to transition? How do issues of our ability, race, or economic status affect these options? What about our families? Our place in community? Do we have any role models? This interactive, facilitated discussion will allow us to hear each others’ stories and share our individual experiences with this complex decision.

Under the Radar: Unpacking Stealth – Open to All

Where are you out about your gender identity or history? How do you draw the lines about whom you’ll tell? When and how much? How does this impact your life, your relationships? Does it provide relief? Stress? Both? This workshop will investigate the complex topic of living stealth. Many times we consider stealth to be all or nothing, but there are many questions to ponder when considering disclosure. We’ll discuss why we live stealth, the ways in which we do it, how it plays out, and how we can empower each other in our own personal choices.

What I Don’t Usually Say to Others about My Gender Is… – Open to All

It isn’t surprising that any of us as trans people may have to modify our stories for a variety of reasons. Some people are unfamiliar with the subject as a whole. Some may still be navigating their feelings of confusion, anger, grief, and so on. But what about when we are with each other? Are there things we don’t share? Perhaps you feel like you are the only one who thinks/feels/expresses themselves in a certain way. Maybe your reasons for transitioning are different than what you’ve heard others express. There may be concern that others won’t understand. Perhaps you’ve encountered unexpected transition-related repercussions that no one else seems to experience. Chances are your experiences/thoughts/views are not as unique as you think. We’ll never know unless we share our truths with each other. Please join us in creating a non-judgmental space and, as a reminder, please share from your own experience only.  


Facilitator Guidelines

We are dedicated to making Gender Odyssey an inclusive and supportive space for everyone. We ask that all prospective facilitators please review the following guidelines. If you feel the need for further clarification, please write to us at workshops@genderodyssey.org.

Your job as a Gender Odyssey facilitator is to:

  • Have a strong understanding of group dynamics and a strong commitment to maintaining equity within the group.
  • Create an inclusive and supportive space for everyone
  • Review the discussion guidelines for group participation (in front of program book)
  • Keep the discussion relevant to the topic and objective/s
  • Engage all participants and encourage different perspectives
  • Be responsible for starting and ending on time.
  • Conduct the group in a way that allows for appropriate interactions amongst the participants. Re-direct the discussion if one or a few participants are monopolizing time.
  • If someone becomes disruptive to the group, ask them to leave.
  • Remember that this is not a lecture or workshop format. Rather than making statements, limit yourself to interjecting questions to promote discussion among the group members.
  • The goal of the discussion is to promote thoughts, opinions and viewpoints amongst the participants and gives individuals the opportunity to share their own truth and experience. Be as objective as possible, and hold your personal opinions at bay.

Sessions are 1 1/2 hours in length.

Gender Odyssey recognizes the vast amount of knowledge and experience that all of our attendees bring to this conference: your job as facilitator is to optimize the participation of others.

Important Note: We strongly encourage all facilitators to show an understanding of the elements of diversity (such as race, class, age, gender identities, etc.) with relation to each session topic.  

We recognize that good facilitation requires practice and skill, and that your contribution is a vital part of Gender Odyssey’s reputation for powerful and relevant programming. Thank you for lending us your abilities!

Facilitator Application Form

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Facilitator Agreement

  • If my application is accepted, I will be available on the day and time assigned to me by Gender Odyssey.  I understand that conference programming spans Fri, Sat, and Sun (Aug 21st to 23rd) from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
  • I understand that the title and description of the discussion(s) I facilitate are the property of Gender Odyssey, and I will not use them elsewhere without permission.
  • I will pre-register at current registration rate to confirm my ability to facilitate by July 21st, 2015. If I need financial assistance, I will complete and return the scholarship application on Gender Odyssey’s website.