Thursday, October 6, 2016

DIY Trans Conference

By Eve Taylor

My Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) experience last week wasn’t so comfortable. Maybe it's my age and experience (married and 60+), but I think I’ve outgrown the transgender conferences and meetings.

I have enjoyed the First Event in Boston the last few years; they’re well organized and attended. This year I thought it would be nice to be warm and tropical (Florida). That it was, but the hotel was just dismal and shoddy and in need of a refurb. I know it is the attendees that make the conference, but cigarette burns and mildew in the rooms… echh! The SCC people should re-think that venue location.

What was great was that that my wife and I skipped out of there ASAP, shot up to Vero Beach and had a fantastic time in the sun and surf on our own. Dressing for the beach, pool, dinner, breakfast, shopping!!! We made our own conference.

I, no, we, discovered how liberating it is to be on your own and out and about. Just a couple of gals out having fun. Everyone we met was so nice and friendly. We found out what many married CD’s have discovered… that two ladies out and about attract little attention other than the best wishes from all.

Next time you’re on vacation, pack femme, be free (and respectful of other people’s “sensitivities”) and enjoy yourself!!!

Source: Ann Taylor
Wearing Ann Taylor.

Uku Suviste
Uku Suviste ready to femulate Beyonce on
Estonian television's Your Face Sound Familiar.


  1. I have a feeling that the organizers may be thinking of changing the SCC to a different location. I hear a lot of complaints about the cost of Bonaventure being too high and a bad location for sightseeing and traveling to.

    Last year there were quite a few more people attend than this year. Even some of the vendors didn't show up. I wonder what will happen next year.

  2. Hi Michelle and Stana,

    I attended the first 2015 and 2016 SCCs in Weston, FL at
    the Bonaventure Hotel. Between 2005 and 2013, I attended 5 SCCs in Atlanta. I
    loved all 7 I have attended because of the other girls (and transmen) who

    In my opinion, the Bonaventure has some significant problems.
    It may have been a high-end hotel when it was new, but it is looking a little
    bit worn now. I stay at some much less expensive Best Westerns (based on the
    full undiscounted rates) whose rooms are just as nice as the Bonaventure.
    Unlike those BWs, the Bonaventure rooms do not have a mini-refrigerator in each
    room, and unlike almost all hotels does not have a pad of hotel note paper and
    a pen in each room. My room did not even have a guest information guide. On the
    plus side, as Shanti and Lexi expressed both years, the staff at the
    Bonaventure is wonderful.

    The location is remote. My biggest issue is that getting
    from any guest room to the main building with all the activities, meals, vendor
    area, and seminars requires walking a minimum of 300 feet outdoors with no
    covering to protect from rain. This could be a disaster on the Saturday evening
    gala with all we girls "dressed to the nines". We lucked out in 2015
    and 2016.

    If SCC is not contractually obligated to repeat at the
    Bonaventure, I'd suggest the board of directors consider moving to a nice tower
    hotel in the city of Ft. Lauderdale (like Atlanta's Sheraton Colony Square or
    Crowne Plaza Dunwoody) where all guest rooms are in the same building as all
    SCC activities and events.

    I think the remote location 25 minutes drive or more from
    Ft. Lauderdale proper and the airport contributed to a number of seminar
    presenters just not showing up; also, there were far less vendors than any
    Atlanta SCC I attended. As I understand it, SCC is committed to Ft. Lauderdale
    for 3 more years ... so let's try to be in Ft. Lauderdale (and not Weston).
    Perhaps, when the Ft. Lauderdale 5-year commitment is over, Orlando or Miami
    would be a better location.

    Having said all of the above, I still plan on attending
    SCC (or more accurately, SCTC, Southern Comfort Transgender Conference) even if
    it stays at the Bonaventure. The people are what make Southern Comfort so

    My intent in this write-up is to give honest feedback,
    but not to bash anyone. The Southern Comfort board and other volunteers do a
    marvelous job, and I THANK them!


    Sheila Tampa.

    1. Hi Sheila,
      You are so right about the hotel staff being wonderful. They were very helpful whenever a problem happened and did a really good job at correcting the problem.

      The statement that about the mini-fridge was one problem that we had corrected within 30 minutes after calling the front desk. We requested a fridge because my partner takes insulin that has to be refrigerated. She called asking why it wasn't in the room when she had specifically requested it on the reservation and was told that they were sorry and would be corrected as soon as possible.

      You're right about the the aging Bonaventure looking a bit worn. Unfortunately, just as with so many of the south Florida hotels (let's get real it's happened in our area too), the investors start out making lots of money on the new place only to start looking for the next great place. When that happens they sell them off and the new owners just put enough money into them to keep them running with a profit margin.

      As I mentioned too, the distance one had to travel was a real problem for many of the girls that attended. I had my own car and like Stana, I spent more time visiting other areas down there than staying at the hotel. I felt a little sad for some of the girls I met there that had no transportation. My partner and I spend more time visiting a friend and scoping out the local area.

      Next year, when we return for the 2017 Conference, if it's still at the Bonaventure we will remember the places we found to eat and the entertainment outside of the hotel compound. The SCC board did a great job at presenting the event but unfortunately it wasn't as great as in the past. Again I feel it was the lack of vendors, the location and the costs of staying at the hotel.

      Will I be attending again next year, yes we will. As you have said, I want to send a "big hug" and a wholehearted thank you to all the volunteers and board members. Without them we would have a conference to go to. Also thank you to all the support presenters that manned the tables to pass on the worthwhile information.

      Take care

    2. Michelle - I did not attend SCC. The "DIY Trans Conference" post was written by Eve, who did attend.

  3. AH DUH!!! My bad...LOL I looked past the name at the beginning of the post and just started reading the article. My apologies to Eve for not acknowledging her authoring the post. I won't be making that mistake again (I blame it on my glasses or is it my advanced age...LOL)

  4. From what I understand, there are a great many people who don't like the direction SCC has taken. Picking a place that is hard to fly to, poor hotel choice, the hotel was not super cooperative, etc. How ever, there is a new conference in Atlanta called the PeachState Conference, that is striving to keep all the great reasons that all of us went to SCC. From what I am hearing, this year should be better than ever!

  5. Shanti, the conference chair this year, and I were talking last on Tuesday at the start of the conference about some of these things. One was SCTC's commitment to South Florida is a total of three years but I don't think they are contemplating a move back to Atlanta. Possibly somewhere other than the Bonaventure but not out of Brevard County/Greater Ft. Lauderdale. Yes, the Bonaventure has some problems with age and we had plumbing problems in our room on Friday. Because my wife can't walk distances, we were given a room about as close to the doors of the conference center as you can get but distance outside can be a problem and that heat can have your makeup melted into your shoes in short order. Another thing Shanti and I talked about was the attendance and we both think there is another reason along with location causing a decline. When I attended my first SCC in 1997, if you wanted to find information about transgender, one of the few places you could go to get that information was a support group or a conference. From 1998 through 2002 when I was a staff member of the conference and track chair for the Big Brother/Sister program, we still had a lot of newcomers at the conference seeking information. The internet was in it's infancy, then. Now with Google being available even on everyone's smart phone, information is at your fingertips. You don't have to go to a seminar to find information on FFS or HRT. You don't have to sit through a talk to find out about surgery with Marci, just look it up. Conferences now I think are more about seeing old friends, meeting new once and being with our kin. There is just something about sitting at dinner with hundreds of other trans people. This year, my first Southern Comfort since 2002, I got to see people I have not seen in 16 years. People who, when I last saw them in 2000 were young, shy girls just starting transition and are now beautiful, confident women. I got to meet online friends who are now real time friends. I got to meet a heroine of mine, airline captain Jessica Taylor. I got to meet Sarah McBride who gave me one of the greatest birthday presents of all time when she stood in front of the DNC on my birthday and said, "I am a proud transgender woman." Meeting Marci Bowers, Harvard swimmer Schuylar Bailor, Kellie Maloney who managed heavyweight champion Lenox Lewis made attending SCC this year worth it.

    Does the Bonaventure have problems, yes. Does SCC need to consider another venue? Again yes. Lexi, Phyllis, Christi and Shanti are doing a great job but most of these things, conferences and such, have a shelf life. Texas T Party is gone, Colorado Gold Rush is gone. Has Southern Comfort reached the end of it's shelf life? I hope not because, even though I had not attended in years, Southern Comfort has always been my home, my transgender home. It's where I came out in public for the first time ever. It's always been nice, even when I didn't attend knowing it was there if I needed it.