Monday, November 4, 2019

Worn-Out Workshops

2013 True Colors Conference presenter
A friend returned from Fantasia Fair and reported that her workshop had only two attendees. Been there, done that.

Over the years, I’ve conducted about 25 workshops and a few times, only a couple of people showed up. On the other hand, a few times the attendance was standing room only.

Usually, the attendance is somewhere in between. Oddly, the topics of my workshops don’t vary much, so attendance (or lack thereof) must be due to other factors. 

I am sure that the description of the workshop appearing in the event’s program makes a difference.

One time, the description I provided was something like “how to femulate successfully.” The intended audience were students and attendance was poor. After all, how many kids read a blog written by an old white lady – so they were clueless as to what “femulate” meant? Next time, the description I provided was something like “how to crossdress successfully.” Same intended audience, but attendance was SRO. 

Another factor is the competition.

Are there a lot of workshops in your time slot, thus your potential audience has too many to choose from. Or are the workshops in your time slot sexier than your workshop and likely to attract a bigger crowd than yours?

I think my friend at Fantasia Fair had too much competition. There was a potential audience of about 100 attendees, while there were four workshops scheduled in her time slot. In addition to the competition from three other workshops, her workshop had to compete with all the extracurricular activities that Cape Cod has to offer. Unless you are Caitlyn Jenner, you have to work hard to attract a crowd in that situation.

My best showing at Fantasia Fair was when I had the “Femulate Blog Party.” I advertised it here in the blog everyday for weeks beforehand and as a result, about 15 people showed up. (My other Fantasia Fair presentations were less successful attendance-wise.) 

My friend added, “I don't think workshops are that important now. Not sure what is.”

She has a point. You can find lots of the topics covered by workshops on the Internet for free, so who needs to slog to a trans convention.

Are events like Fantasia Fair, First Event, Keystone Conference, Southern Comfort, etc. becoming more social events and less venues where you can learn something. Who needs another “how to crossdress successfully” workshop?

I guess I have been around the block a few times too many and I don’t need no stinkin’ workshops. But I still attend workshops – more to socialize than to learn. Afterall, I am at a trans conference, so I might as well fill the time by attending a few workshops.

On the other hand, novices will probably get more by attending live workshops than by viewing the same on the Internet. It is one thing to view “how to crossdress successfully” from the safety of your closet. It is another thing to get all dressed up and attend the same workshop in person en femme.

Until I attended my first convention, I was pretty much closeted only going out en femme to attend my support group’s bi-monthly meetings. By attending conventions in hotels filled with civilians, I slowly built up my confidence and eventually I was able to go anywhere I desired without a net. Not sure how much the workshops helped, but attending conventions sure made a difference.

By the way, it is that time of year when I can submit workshop proposals for two local conferences that occur early next year: True Colors and Transgender Lives. Not sure I want to do “how to crossdress successfully” again. Not sure there is even a need for “how to crossdress successfully.”

Let me ask you: If you were attending a conference, what would you like to hear me workshop about?

Source: Veronica Beard
Wearing Veronica Beard

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka femulate the Olsen twins at Heidi Klum's 2019 Halloween party


  1. Workshop I'd go to if you presented it: How to shop for women's clothes in male or female mode.

    1. Just DO it!
      Yes it does 'take guts' the first time. It get easier with practice.
      In all reality, NOBODY really cares about your actions, as long as you have a 'universal passport'--AKA-- MONEY/PLASTIC.
      Shopped at Cato Fashions (in NC!)on Sunday, (enfemme) spent money on a pink top. :-)
      Then went to LOWES and shopped for a GAS RANGE.
      Then went to Value Village and found a beautiful size 8 pink dress for wife. She was thrilled.
      BTW, read below post...

  2. Wow, that is a complicated question… my answer will have to be yes and no.

    Yes for large venues like True Colors and First Event because they have a lot of new first timers
    No for small venues like Fantasia Fair

    Yes for venues that cater to the older generation because many of them are coming out for the first time
    No for venues that cater to the younger generation because they can get it from their peers (Exception… the True Colors because it is so large even if you attract 1% of the attendees that’s 30 people for your workshop).

    I do my workshop for the National Association of Social Workers every other year and it is always full. It is a small venue with a moderate turnover so the every other year works.

    It is also as you said the workshop title is important. At the Trans Health & Law conference we ask presenters to change the title all the time. Sometime we use jargon that other don’t understand, there are people who don’t know LGBT stands for.

  3. Wow, tough question. Maybe a make up seminar, or a Fashion Over 50 session. (But I must say I'd attend whatever workshop you were leading just to meet the famous Stana!)

  4. Consider borrowing a concept from the Wizard of Oz. "Courage - How to go from being the Cowardly Lion to the Queen of the Jungle".

    It is a jungle out there but your ability to get out and about with safety and ease has been a theme of many of your posts. Assuming you, like many of us, have long desired to get out and about how do you trace your history emerging into the quasi public figure you have become.

    You started with your support group and expanded to large scale meetings like FF. Now you plan your life and seem to be able to control where you go and when you go. How did you get from point A to point B? "Courage". You have transcended the concept that "The only thing you have to fear is fear itself".

    It is often a series of baby steps. Before it closed several years ago I became a bit of a regular midweek visitor to Triangles. I remember the first time I went there. I really thought I looked good. I even remember what I was wearing and the car I was driving at the time. I remember the car and dress so well because my courage failed me. I sat in the car and sat in the car. Twice I got out of the car and started to walk to the door and both times I failed to make it in the door. I eventually returned to the car and drove home "mission not accomplished". Eventually I found the Triangles welcome mat and was able to enjoy comfort, acceptance and friends at that venue.

    There have been other times when I never made it out of the car and into the targeted venue. How many others have had similar experiences. On occasions discretion is the better part of valor but more often than not it is a lack of courage. My guess is that you could fill a session with your personal vignettes as you built your own courage to do what you now do so well and you can tell the attendees that you have been to the promised land.

    1. I was thinking along the same lines, Pat. I think if someone is confidently standing up front and presenting what Stana has always written, it carries much more weight. That would go over well at a larger conference with a lot of people gingerly testing the waters.

    2. I agree with Pat on courage and baby steps.. Even when I was in Provincetown in early October, I had to tell myself verbally that "if I can't get out of the damn car in Provincetown, I might as well give up on being Heather." I got out of the car and had a great time.

  5. I have NEVER been a fan of the term 'workshop'. Has the 'work' word, a-la 'Maynard G. Krebbs'. (yeah, I am THAT old!).
    WORK!-- quote from M.G.K

    I would recommend you do a 'seminar'/'webinar'(?) on 'how to meet and NETWORK with 'those of our kind' with the cautious proviso of this effort be one of MUTUAL AID AND SUPPORT, not some sort of 'hook-up' effort.
    Too many persons, regardless of 'Persuasion', simply dont realize the inherent value, especially TIME VALUE of 'a small amount of risk' to meet and network and SHARE INFORMATION, and SHARE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT and 'growth of the self' with those of like mind.
    Oldsters here will recall the 'bad old days', pre-internet, where contacts of like minded persons was done with blind box advertisements, placed under a headings, state by state, placed in various magazines of "specialized interest".
    I will add, that even after 30+ years, many of those 'blind box' friendships/alliances still exist(!) and most have moved onto the internet. Our mutual sharing of info and support was invaluable to our growth and SANITY.

  6. Stana, seems every conference has workshops and some are sold and some are not depending on the topic, the speaker status or marketing. You have all three check boxes so you should draw in an audience unless its in the shop o'clock or wine o'clock time slot

    Stana will be serving a selection of local wines and gourmet nibbles during her presentation = Sold Out

    The internet has ruined it for workshops because I learned 2 key things from your blog and a makeover artist:

    Press On Nails
    Dress your Age and appropriate for the outing

    No workshop required

    However, these events are awesome to attend as newbies to dress among others, gain confidence and to learn.

    I looked like a bag lady at first and was hungry to learn to present better which gave me confidence to venture out among civilians. Your blog was that encyclopedia. Thank You for blogging away

    Once passable and confident in the daily outings does one attend the "Update on Current Wig Styles" Or "Transgenders and the Law"? I would attend the law one so I know my rights when pulled over by a Sherrif in some strange county

  7. Hi,how many I contact u?

    1. Click on the "Email Stana" link just below my photo in the right hand column of the blog.