Workshops

Gender Odyssey Family’s workshop schedule is designed to address the wide-ranging issues a family raising a gender-diverse child may encounter. Sessions are led by leading experts in the field as well as family members who have navigated this journey with their own child.

If you are a professional seeking to increase your knowledge, please consider attending one of our Gender Odyssey Professional Seminar in Los Angeles (June 28-29)  and Seattle (Aug 23-Aug 24, 2017). Students welcome!

Our conference offers three days of…

  • Informational presentations, panel discussions and interactive forums where parents can explore the issues related to raising children who are gender diverse
  • Incredible opportunities to meet other families from all over the country
  • Access to some of the top experts in the country

The schedule for the 2017 conference will be available in late Spring 2017. Below are workshops from the 2016  Conference.

View the complete Schedule grid here.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 5

9:00 – 10:30 AM

TYFA Research Study: Parents Reporting on Experiences of Trans Youth
Dr. Colt Keo-Meier, Seth Pardo, PhD, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy
This presentation provides results from a community sample of parents of gender expansive youth living in the US. Working collaboratively, researchers Seth Pardo, Jo Olson-Kennedy, and Colt Keo-Meier and TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA) launched the first online study of parents and guardians of gender-expansive children in the US. Data was collected about the parents’ perceptions of their child’s gender identity development, social and medical transition status, experiences at school, and thoughts of self-harm. Results from this study were originally presented at the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference and feedback from attendees has helped to shape the next round of data collection, which will be the focus of this session.

Parents in Transition: A Pathway Forward for Parents of Transgender Youth
Kate Kauffman, LPC
Parents and relatives who have a transgender family member go through a transition process, too. Oftentimes, this process gets overlooked or unrecognized. Come learn about the Parents In Transition model, which was formed from innovative family services conducted at TransActive Gender Center and Brave Space in Portland, OR. This model will help family members understand your own process, find a pathway forward, and build connection with other families and your transgender child.

Buddy Up
Lena Holz, Tiffany Kelly
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.

A Dad’s Place, Pt. 1
John Davis
Most of us have role models for fatherhood, but few of us have learned how to be a father to a gender-nonconforming child. Fatherhood in our society comes with strong expectations, some of which can make it difficult for us to feel secure in our role. Come share your personal experiences, successes, fears, and other lessons in a confidential environment of acceptance, understanding, and support. You are not alone on this journey: let’s offer one another support and assistance. There are three parts to this workshop. You need not attend all sessions to be welcome at any single one.

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM

Tunnel Vision and the Checklist
Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
Many parents and providers alike have wished for the how-to book for raising a transgender child. The lack of a definitive road map can lead adults to intently focus on what is tangible—a checklist of sorts—and assume these items are the most important destination stops of this journey. Examples include name changes, puberty delay, hormone intervention, ID document changes, future surgery, and so on. This intent focus on the concrete tasks of gender transition can cause a parent or provider to develop tunnel vision which may sometimes cause them to obscure the less tangible but critical aspects of a trans or gender-nonconforming child’s life; prevent typical family functioning because of the ever-present “crisis”; miss the opportunities to provide a child with resiliency-building skills; and possibly confuse a child’s wish to express gender fluidity with the desire to transition their gender identity. Join us in this workshop where we will explore these issues in greater depth.

Helping Your Gender-Expansive Child with Teasing
Darlene Tando
Teasing is a part of the sub-culture in schools and within peer relationships. Those raising gender-expansive youth often want to protect their child from this, and prevent it from happening at all. Unfortunately this often translates to asking the child to change something about themself. In this workshop, we will explore how to empower and support your gender-expansive child. We will be discussing: specific tools parents can use to both stay connected to their children and stay informed about what is going on socially; how to build their child’s ego strength; and how to help their children decude how to respond to any teasing that may occur.

Holistic Care for Transgender Children and Youth
Jenn Burleton
Gathering much needed resources and services can be a challenge for gender-diverse and transgender children, youth, and their families. This workshop by TransActive Gender Center and its collaborative partner, Oregon Health & Science University, will provide information and guidelines for providers, youth, and families for how to assemble an experienced, motivated, and effective team that meets the educational, social, mental health, and medical needs of the entire family,

How Did I Get Here?
Dr. Michele Angello
One thing seems universal for families who have transgender or gender-nonconforming children and that is that we have, or have had, some level of fear and apprehension for the experience(s) our children. Of course we have concerns for our children as we offer support and raise them in a world that may not be ready for them. We invite you to come and share your thoughts and experiences—and hear the stories of others— in a safe, understanding environment. Our goal is to offer support to each other and step out of our isolation. First time and return attendees welcome—let’s do it together!

1:30 – 2:50 PM

Schools and Public Accommodations
Asaf Orr
Increasingly, various federal, state, and local laws and policies are providing educators with clear expectations and responsibilities for working with their students’ gender diversity issues. Covering a wide range of subjects including Title IX requirements, program and facility access, and model regulations and policies, experienced legal professionals will provide insights into the shifting legal landscape related to transgender and other gender-expansive students. Legal professionals well-versed in these subjects will discuss various trends impacting school law, and recommendations for ensuring that the needs of these vulnerable youth are being accounted for.

Puberty Suppression: What, When & How?
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy
Trans youth have begun presenting for medical care at increasingly younger ages over the past decade. Making the decision to suppress a gender-nonconforming child’s biological puberty with “blockers” is complicated, and there is little consensus among medical providers about when, how, and how long to do so. This workshop will cover the basics of puberty suppression, including what puberty blockers are; indications for their use; potential benefits and side effects; and key elements of decision-making around suppression of puberty. Dr. Olson-Kennedy will also review the current research data surrounding the impact of puberty suppression, including observations from her own research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Dealing with Family Rejection
Debi Jackson
Often one of the hardest parts of supporting a trans child is being rejected by family members, the very people we expect to help us get through difficult times. In this session, we will explore different ways we experience rejection, techniques for trying to salvage damaged relationships, and knowing when it’s time to let go. We will also talk about building a new “chosen family” that can provide us with the emotional relationships we need to move forward.

Car Talk
Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
Many parents are uncomfortable with what feels like a daunting prospect—talking to their kids about difficult or personal subjects—and parents of trans youth perhaps more so. How can you as a parent or guardian broach these tentative topics? This session’s title references just one of the ways to engage a youth in meaningful dialogue. After all, escape is difficult when the vehicle is moving! In this workshop we will discuss and practice techniques for communicating with a child and become more familiar with the possibilities of “car talk.”

3:00 – 4:30 PM

Outside of the Gender Binary
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
The gender binary is limiting not only in describing the experience of gender, but also in the development of medical and mental health care protocols. This workshop will primarily be a discussion of the approach to caring for non-binary-identified youth in the mental and medical health care domains. Led by three experienced clinicians, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Susan Landon, and Aydin Olson-Kennedy, we will explore the challenges of development, societal integration, language, privilege, and medical decision making for non-binary youth. Additionally, this workshop will introduce a new tool for visual depiction of gender experience that is richer and more complete than the simplistic binary.

Changing ID Documents
Asaf Orr
More than ever before, identity documents, such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and passports, are being scrutinized in a wide range of situations. Whether traveling abroad, obtaining various governmental benefits, or enrolling in school, these legal papers play a key role in one’s ability to access rights and services. Furthermore, for young people in school, on a team, or engaged in other activities, the importance of one’s name and sex aligning with gender identity carries particular significance and a mismatch can undermine privacy. This workshop will provide an overview of the current issues, challenges, and requirements for modifying such documents.

All in the Family
Dr. Michele Angello
As we embark on the journey of transition with our trans child, we may be focused solely on that child, but after the initial intensity, we become more aware of other family members, their needs and reactions, and the shift in family dynamics. How can we support our non-trans children at the outset and through our trans child’s journey? How do we respect and make space for the other parent’s approach to supporting our child? How do we handle sharing information about our trans child to grandparents and extended family? Join us as we explore these topics and share strategies for navigating these significant relationships in ways that honor your trans child and the rest of the family.

My Kid Has a Crush—Now What?
Kaden Sullivan
Talking to our kids about sex and dating is daunting enough—”the gender stuff” can add a whole new spin that may leave you feeling overwhelmed and even unsure of where to begin. How do you talk to a trans young person about this very important topic? Where is the manual? We will explore the world of dating, bodies, and sex and discuss how to incorporate factors such as disclosure, self-esteem, and safety into the conversation. Have you had these conversations already? What were your strategies? What came up that was expected or unexpected? Let’s share our experiences and knowledge with each other and find answers for the questions we may still have.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 6

8:30 – 10:00 AM

Navigating the “Human Barrier” in Schools (Double session)
Aidan Key, Asaf Orr
After a guardian’s/parent’s realization that their child is transgender—but often before they have had a chance to catch their breath—the question of how to navigate schools looms large and immediate.  Teachers, administrators, and even counselors may put up some resistance to taking inclusive steps to support the child and recognize the school’s role in the transition process. Even principals say, “Why should we do all this for one student?”  Or they may ask a bewildered parent, “Just tell us what to do.”  During this session, we will explore the origins of this resistance and some concrete steps for navigating a successful student transition. We will point parents to appropriate resources for creating an inclusive school environment and share guidelines and wisdom for educating school staff when no outside training is available. Content discussed will include: how to field “the bathroom question”; age-appropriate ways to talk to children; proactive addressing of concerns from other parents; and other ways for framing trans issues to those within a school community. There will be time for Q&A as well as addressing specific situations you may already have encountered.

Assessing Gender Identity in Teens
Dr. Michele Angello
This session will describe the evaluation of adolescents for possible medical interventions, such as puberty-blocking medication and cross-sex hormone treatment. Throughout this workshop, recommendations for working sensitively with transgender children and adolescents in all medical and mental health settings will be provided. Finally, recommendations for evaluating more complex cases (e.g., co-occurring mental health issues, difficult family dynamics) will be provided.

Participating in Sports as a Trans Youth
Adam Yerke, PsyD
This workshop is devoted to the topic of athletic involvement among transgender youth. In the first half of the workshop, participants are provided information about current policies impacting transgender youth in sports programs. This includes up-to-date information about state laws, high school athletic associations, and collegiate policies (NCAA). The benefits of sports involvement are also presented. During the second half of the workshop, participants are encouraged to discuss their own experiences related to being transgender and an athlete. In particular, the discussion will focus on how to navigate current school policies, as well as everyday situations that may arise when participating in sports as a gender-nonconforming youth, such as locker rooms, sport clothing/equipment, and competing in gender binary categories. Finally, participants will devise a personalized plan to maintain their commitment to sports and activity.

I Love My Daughter but I Miss My Son
Nazia Junejo, Cathy Gillis
This is a group discussion to give voice to the grief and fear that parents experience when their child transitions. This is a safe, nonjudgmental time to share, explore, and find fellowship with other parents who are experiencing or have experienced the complex emotions of grief as they navigate this journey. Come share your stories and experiences in this roundtable discussion led by someone who has been there.
Note: To provide an optimal environment, we ask that only parents/guardians attend this session.

Christian Parents of Trans Children
Debi Jackson will tell her story of discovering that her daughter is transgender, and accepting and supporting her child despite the pressure from the Southern Baptist Convention to deny trans identities. She will share how she and other parents of LGBT children have both reconciled their faith and have grown in their faith as they support their kids. Parents struggling with their child’s gender identity, or who have family and friends who are struggling, will find support, affirmation, and strength in stories and Bible verses shared. The session will also include time for Q&A and attendees will break into small groups to share their stories with others and build relationships to carry them forward after the conference.

10:10 – 11:40 AM

Trans Adults: A Snapshot in Time
There is a significant difference between the experience of older adults who transition and that of young children or teens. That said, there are many things that can be gained from hearing the perspectives of the older generations. A gender transition is never a singular, insular experience. It happens in context—with respect to family, work, community, and society as a whole. As our panelists share their respective journeys, we hope that you will gain perspective on their experiences across the timeline of transgender acceptance, and that this will ultimately place you and your own child’s experience on that very timeline as well.

Consciously Parenting Your Gender-Expansive Child
Darlene Tando
Conscious parenting is an important element in raising a happy, secure child. When raising a gender-expansive child, conscious parenting becomes even more important in order to help your child be their authentic self. This workshop will cover the basics of conscious parenting, and explore how staying conscious throughout your child’s gender journey can assist both you and your child. Staying within and trusting yourself and your child can help immensely when dealing with others’ reactions, choosing the next step in the journey, and coping with your own emotional responses all while remaining close and connected to your child.

Just a Boy, Just a Girl
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
“My child will not talk about anything transgender. She just wants to be a girl.”
Integrating transgender experience into core self is an important element of development for transgender youth, and can be incredibly difficult when transgender identities are not celebrated in their social environments. This integration seems to be more challenging for those who are transitioning early in life. This workshop will present strategies for helping youth to include their transgender selves into their identities. Case examples will be presented for assistance in illuminating the pros and cons of the “just a boy, just a girl” phenomenon. We will discuss the importance of parent and caregiver language that celebrates being transgender and encourages youth to embrace this part of their experience.

Public Activism and Trans Youth
Debi Jackson
All parents of trans youth advocate for our children. Some will only ever advocate privately with the local school or the pediatrician’s office. If you choose to become more vocal to take a stand against anti-trans legislative initiatives or tell your story in the media, you need strategies for your messaging and for your protection. In this workshop, we will cover a variety of potential avenues for advocacy including writing blogs, giving interviews to reporters, lobbying efforts through letters and phone calls, giving testimony in front of legislators; and then consider how to deal with any backlash you may receive from being public.

12:45 – 2:15 PM

Medical Needs of Trans Youth: Cross Hormones
Daniel Metzger, MD
Transgender teens and their families often struggle to find appropriate, thorough, and sensitive health care services. Up-to-date, informed medical care can greatly increase the positive effects of a teen’s physical gender transition and their overall mental well-being. This workshop focuses primarily on medical intervention for transgender adolescent youth and will cover the use of cross hormones in this population.

Navigating IEPs and 504s for Your Child
April Fortunati, Aidan Fortunati, Asaf Orr
As parents of a transgender daughter who also falls on the Autism spectrum, Aidan and April have run into many challenges navigating the school system. Talking to other parents at the family support group and at previous conferences, they’ve found many families with similar struggles, including parents of children with learning delays, ADHD, ASD, social-emotional delays, and other issues that impact their education, and are separate from their gender identity. With NCLR attorney Asaf Orr present to provide a legal perspective, this session is an opportunity for parents to discuss the unique challenges they’ve encountered, and obtain resources and support for getting their child’s learning needs met.

From This Day Forward – Film
Director Sharon Shattuck wants to have the wedding she always dreamed of, with her father walking her down the aisle in a traditional suit. Her dad—now Trisha—has a different idea of what it would look like to be authentic: wearing a dress. In this real-life Transparent, Trisha’s closely bonded family reinvents family roles to accommodate her shift in identity, balancing self-expression and adaptation. While it’s a mystifying experience for everyone involved, this family in flux preserves their loving connections in this moving documentary portrayal of complex relationships and life’s biggest moments.

A Dad’s Place, Pt. 2
Ben Tobias
Most of us have role models for fatherhood, but few of us have learned how to be a father to a gender-nonconforming child. Fatherhood in our society comes with strong expectations, some of which can make it difficult for us to feel secure in our role. Come share your personal experiences, successes, fears, and other lessons in a confidential environment of acceptance, understanding, and support. You are not alone on this journey: let’s offer one another support and assistance. There are three parts to this workshop. You need not attend all sessions to be welcome at any single one.

Mutual Admiration Committee
Mary, Sarah
Are you a parent? Are you the parent of a transgender child or a transgender parent? The Mutual Admiration Committee presents a unique opportunity to meet other workshop attendees who are transgender parents and parents of transgender kids. We will take time to get together and share some of our stories, get to know one another, brainstorm ideas to support one another and just have lots and lots of fun! Your guides on this adventure will be the founders of the MAC—an amazing transgender mom and parent of two great boys, and a stupendous mother of a great transgender daughter. Awwww! So come and join us for this enjoyable workshop!

Stories from the Front: Trans Youth Panel
Moderator: Gil Rich
What are the real life experiences of older transgender and gender-nonconforming youth? During this powerful session, transgender adolescents, friends, and relatives tell their stories from the heart. Honest, emotional, and inspiring stories can help other parents and youth to believe in a better and happier future. The goal of this session is to provide parents hope by seeing that transgender youth thrive once their gender issues are addressed.

Shining Stars! – Film Shorts
These youth remind us that no matter what age, everyone can define their own identity and be proud of who they are.
KIDS ON GENDER Jasmine Doyle Pitt & Alexa Sidor; 2014; UK; 9 min.
VIKTOR Ann Prim; 2016; US; 11 min.; in Russian and English with English subtitles
RAISING OWEN: A GENDERQUEER LOVE STORY Meg Brown; 2015; US; 9 min.
STEALTH Bennett Lasseter; 2014; US; 21 min.
HOW TO BE A GIRL Marlo Mack; 2014; US; 7 min.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 7

SUNDAY

9:00 – 10:30 AM

Gender Google I: Questions and Answers regarding Children Ages 12 and Under
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
When should I talk to my child’s doctor about puberty blockers? Should I let my kid socially transition? Do I have to tell the parents of my child’s playdate that my child is trans? Parents and caregivers often have specific questions or concerns about their own situations that are not adequately addressed in workshops due to time constraints. This roundtable workshop will give families a unique opportunity for undivided attention with a panel of experienced medical and mental health providers in order to get their questions answered. This workshop addresses questions regarding children 12 years of age and younger.

Having Difficult Conversations
Debi Jackson
This session will offer the opportunity to role play any of those difficult or uncomfortable conversations that may come up. Sample scenarios include: how to approach your clergy to find out if they are accepting and affirming; what to say when another parent asks you about genital surgery; how to handle running into an acquaintance in public after your child’s transition; and how to talk to your child about fertility options. Bring your own conversation topic to include. Leave the session with new tools and a renewed confidence in how to handle these tricky situations.

So I Read Some Scary Stuff That Said . . .
Ianto West, Dawn Marie Blades
Learning about transgender and gender-nonconforming issues can be overwhelming, particularly for parents. There is a lot of conflicting information about what parents should or shouldn’t do. As two psychology nerds, we would like to offer ourselves as ambassadors to the available research. We will discuss how to differentiate useful from less-than-helpful suggestions, and offer a few tools that you can use to make sense out of new information you might come across.

From 10,000 Dresses to George: Transgender and Gender-Expansive Characters in Children’s Literature
M.G. Hennessey
This has been an exciting decade, with a welcome flood of books depicting a wider range than ever of transgender and gender-expansive kids and their life experiences. From picture books like 10,000 Dresses to young adult novels like Every Day, we’ll talk about the positive approach literature is taking toward LGBTQ issues, and where it’s headed next.

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM

Gender Google II: Questions and Answers regarding Children Ages 13 and Over
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Susan P. Landon, MA, LMFT, Aydin Olson-Kennedy, MSW, ACSW
How old should my child be before considering hormones? How do I best equip my teen to be safe in the world? How do I prep my child for the “who, why, what, and when” questions regarding the disclosure of their gender? I have a million questions and only vague answers—I need help! Designed to get these questions answered, this roundtable workshop will give families a unique opportunity for undivided attention from a panel of experienced medical and mental health providers. This workshop addresses questions regarding children 13 years of age and older.

Avoiding Burnout: Self-Care for Parents and Caretakers of Transgender and Gender-Diverse Youth
Lisa J. Keating
Parents and caretakers are the first line of defense for their child’s safety and well-being. It’s easy to lose focus and overlook your own needs—even more so if you have a child who is transgender or gender diverse. The stress and anxiety that can come with advocating for a transgender or gender-diverse child, no matter their age, is significant. Personal and professional relationships can be affected. For some, rebuilding an entire network of support is necessary. How do you not lose your own identity and wellness in the process?

Looking Ahead: Trans Adult Panel
Moderator: Aidan Key
During this session, you will hear from a number of gender-nonconforming and transgender-identified adults. They will share with you how they define their gender, how they experience their bodies, and how they navigate everyday society. You will not hear personal coming out histories but rather an exploration of how wide ranging gender expression and identity can be. This workshop will provide an opportunity to look ahead to some possible futures for your child and to recognize the powerful effect of variables such as family support and increasing societal acceptance. The possibilities for our children are far greater than we can imagine, but we can start by providing this window.

Fertility for Our Transgender Youth
Dr. Mandy Schivell
Many parents of transgender children (like me) worry and wonder about their future fertility. We will discuss the current state of reproductive technologies that could potentially be used to preserve our children’s fertility.

1:30 – 3:00 PM

Really? Surgery for Teens?
Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Daniel Metzger, MD
More trans children are receiving early support for living in congruence with their gender identity. A growing number are provided with a path to natal puberty suppression in preadolescence and/or cross hormones during adolescence. But what about surgery for minors? A high percentage of providers, and even parents, will understandably want to put the brakes on—but should they? Are there times when surgery is appropriate, or even necessary, for a transitioning youth? If you believe the answer is yes, does that answer change when considering genital surgery? Are there even surgeons who will do this? This session will bring together a panel of providers whose collective experience working with trans youth is unparalleled. Part of the conversation will be in the “fishbowl” format with these experts providing their own case studies, observations, and projections, followed by time for Q&A.

Parent to Parent
Cathy Gillis
After three days of information gathering, social networking, and psychological processing, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and emotionally overloaded, especially as you’re also preparing to return to your day-to-day life, with its accompanying concerns and stresses. Luckily, you’re not alone! This debrief session will provide a space in which to confer with other parents and sort out what you’ve learned and what you’d like to take home with you, which might include a new friend’s e-mail address! Share your thoughts about your conference experience and any hopes or fears you may have about stepping back into “the real world.” Especially recommended for those new to the conference and/or the trans-parenting journey.

A Dad’s Place, Pt. 3
John Davis
Most of us have role models for fatherhood, but few of us have learned how to be a father to a gender-nonconforming child. Fatherhood in our society comes with strong expectations, some of which can make it difficult for us to feel secure in our role. Come share your personal experiences, successes, fears, and other lessons in a confidential environment of acceptance, understanding, and support. You are not alone on this journey: let’s offer one another support and assistance. There are three parts to this workshop. You need not attend all sessions to be welcome at any single one.

3:15 – 5:00 PM

MAJOR! – Closing Film
MAJOR!
explores the life and campaigns of black transgender elder and activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Commonly known as “Mama,” she has been fiercely advocating for her girls—trans women of color who have survived police brutality and incarceration in men’s prisons—for over 40 years. A veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion, a survivor of Attica State Prison, and a former sex worker, Miss Major is a living library of the queer rights movement. Both a condemnation of the prison-industrial complex and a historical portrait of diverse LGBT communities, MAJOR! uses first-person narration and innovative storytelling to personalize this vibrant and charismatic woman with love and humor. Contains adult themes and language and mention of rape.

Access to Gender Odyssey Workshops

The Gender Odyssey conference is held in adjoining rooms at the same time as Gender Odyssey Family. Gender Odyssey Family registrants over 18 years of age may attend any Saturday/Sunday Gender Odyssey conference workshops or events at no additional cost. Registrants aged 13 – 17 may attend Gender Odyssey programming with parental consent (excluding workshops designated 18+.)

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