The Mazzoni Center’s mission is to provide quality, comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBT-focused environment, while preserving the dignity and improving the quality of life of the individuals they serve. Their offers a full array of primary health care services, mental and behavioral health services, and LGBT legal services, as well as HIV and STD testing, food bank and housing subsidies for families and individuals affected by HIV, support groups, outreach and education programs. They also have specialist in transgender issues.
A prominent feature of the Mazzoni Center is the fact that they host the annual Philly TransWellness Conference. There is a professional training track (different ones for people in the counseling, medical, and legal professions) that involves paying a reasonable fee. However, the bulk of the conference is aimed at directly meeting the needs of people within the trans community…and it’s FREE!
Hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center, the conference is massive and the number of attendees continues to grow every year. The website boasts that they are, “The Largest Free Trans-Specific Conference in the World,” and I believe it. While there are cicgendered attendees (people who don’t identify as trans), we are certainly in the minority and it’s really thrilling. (OK, at first it’s intimidating, for fear of accidentally offending someone, and then thrilling!) To borrow from Harry Potter, a cisgendered person at the conference might initially feel like a muggle would at Hogwarts, which hopefully means that a trans person feels like a wizard who fits right in. The bathrooms are labeled as being open to any gender identity and everyone walks around with name tags that includes the pronouns that they prefer people use for them. If you can…go, even if you are neither trans or a professional…and just want to learn more.
The Main Line Youth Alliance is a teen/young adult (ages 14-22) drop in center in on Friday nights Wayne, PA. They have a guest speaker and then hang out time. MYA provides a safe and healthy environment for their LGBTQIA+ youth. Meetings are virtually every Friday evening from 7-9:30 pm. There is no charge for admission and like any group, where teens gather, snacks are served! From time to time, they welcome parents to join in for an activity of fundraising or discussions.
I have an ever-growing playlist on my YouTube Chanel (well, really many, many ever-growing playlists) of videos mostly by people who are trans. It has basic information (like the role of pronouns in being respectful of people’s gender identity) and relatable stories (like a son interviewing his mom about what it’s like for her to have a trans son). Generally speaking, videos can go a long way in helping to see the humanity in other people and understand in a more intimate way the challenges and victories that people can face. This playlist is no exception.
I first became aware of the It Gets Better movement from a viral video back in October 2010. Joel Burns, an elected official, made a speech at a Fort Worth, TX city council meeting. He had been deeply troubled by several gay teens committing suicide and had a personal message he felt compelled to share with other teens that might be experiencing the same emotional pain. You can check out this powerful speech on YouTube.
I honestly don’t know if he has any connection to the formal It Gets Better organization but, according to their website, they started up the month before Joel’s speech. Since that time, they have produced and collected many inspirational videos, from famous people and regular people, about why, even when things seem so hard as an LGBTQ youth, you need to hold on because when you grow up and are an adult, you can chart your own course, find a community that supports you for you, and feel like life is worth living.