Transgender conference calling it quits after 30 years

From Windy City Media Group:  http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Transgender-conference-calling-it-quits-after-30-years/40974.html

by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-12-31

Citing waning participation and a shortfall of funds, one of the nation’s largest transgender conferences has ceased organizing after more than three decades in the Chicago area.

The Be-All Conference, which gathered hundreds and hosted big name speakers in Downers Grove, has been cancelled.

“Everything has a life cycle, and unfortunately, it looks like we’re at the end of ours,” said Katie Thomas, an organizer of the conference.

According to Thomas, attendance at the spring event has dwindled in recent years, from about 500 at its peak to around 325 in 2012. That combined with a struggling economy and a lack of volunteers did the conference in.

Organizers faced a Dec. 28 deadline for booking a hotel for the 2013 conference. Facing declining attendance and financial liability, they finally called the event off.

News of the cancellation comes just weeks after Illinois Gender Advocates, longtime the only transgender policy organization in the state, announced it was considering dissolution due to declining membership.

Both organizations were primarily run by middle-aged transgender women, a large community currently experiencing waning participation across the board.

Chicago Gender Society, a transgender social group that formerly organized Be-All, has also struggled to maintain members.

“It’s all in decline, really,” Thomas said. “It’s no fun playing in an empty house.”

For years, Be-All served as one of few places in the country where many wanting to explore gender could go. While some identified as transgender publicly, others only crossed gender boundaries at the conference, often safely away from spouses or kids.

Continue reading at:  http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Transgender-conference-calling-it-quits-after-30-years/40974.html

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