So It’s Begun

Posted by – December 21, 2006

I’m starting to get emails from people asking about the new book and whether or not I’d be willing to come to one trans conference or another. Likewise, the “call for presenters” emails are also showing up.

This year, for obvious reasons, Betty & I would love to go to all the conferences we’ve attended before – to celebrate the new book, to help more people, to dispel what rumors we can and to share what we’ve learned in the years since we’ve been to them.

But the same old problem stands in my way: we can’t afford it. My publishers don’t pay for conferences, and a physical book tour, per se, isn’t financially feasible. And as per usual, unless I’m to be the keynote speaker – such as at First Event - I’m told over and over again that the conferences do not help presenters get to these conferences or even waive conference fees, much less pay for hotel rooms or travel costs or the like. I say “I’m told” because that’s what conference organizers tell people when they have requested my attendance – and yet that’s not what I hear from other presenters.

Interestingly, I’ve been told that because I’m selling books I’m a “commercial interest,” which amuses me, considering that even if I sold a book to every single person who came to these conferences – which is far from likely – I still wouldn’t make enough money to break even! But of course I don’t actually sell my own books at these conferences: IFGE does.

So my response to everyone just now is that I honestly don’t know if we can come. We can’t afford to put out the $1000-2000 it costs for us to go to a conference, but we certainly can’t do that several times next year. It costs us more of course because there are two of us – and people always want Betty to come, because she’s Betty.

Mind you, I’m not asking to make money going to these things. I just don’t want to have to spend my own money working for a conference that is – from all reports – making money. I’m happy to donate my time and costs to conferences that are non-profit and have done so in the past. It would help if I felt any of these conferences had a clear-cut policy on these issues. But beyond all that, I know I can draw an audience because I’m told I make a decent advocate for partners, and that a lot of what I have to say is very different from what you hear in the rest of the trans community, and that that difference is useful.

Unfortunately, then, I can’t go unless my expenses are covered, and that is up to the organizing committees of the various conferences.

3 Comments on So It’s Begun

  1. Jude says:

    I hear you on the cost thing. I think the last time I hit a trans conference for real (bought the package, stayed at the hotel) was 1997 or 98. It’s expensive for one person, add a partner and its that much worse.

    For me, its been a case of compromise – I go to a single day. I go to academic or health conferences that are not coupled to a banquet or a hotel. I find alternate lodging. Zippy and I ended up at IFGE in Austin a few years back – but only because we stayed with her brother, got some low cost fares, and we only went for the daytime stuff, not the banquets. I was able to hit Fan Fair for a day because I worked the spotlight at the follies, and slept on a friend’s couch.

    If you can get the conferences to comp the conference fees, maybe you can find locals to stay with (you do have quite the army of friends, fans, and admirers). And maybe you can find a white knight to throw some frequent flyer miles (oh wait, airplanes, nevermind) your way. But you know what I mean. I always consider it a righteous blow for the proletariat to make known that I cannot afford the banquet or the hotel to some class-clueless individual.

    Besides, if you scoot out for cheap thai food while everyone else is at the pricey banquet, then show up at the bar afterwards, there is a certain “cool rebel kids” chic that I suspect you might enjoy.

    I do think some presenters get some accommodations, but I suspect these are the regulars – people who show up year after year, maybe have been there from the start, and have become part of the conference draw.

  2. Mona Rae Mason says:

    If you are referring to an upcoming April conference, I’m feeling your pain, Helen. I was just told that since I am bringing a total of 4 presenters ( for a double session ) the ‘extra’ two will have to pay $75 each –and they aren’t even staying or eating! And I certainly don’t think presenting preliminary findings from a research project could be considered a commercial venture. If the workshops and presenters are ‘the show’, then why are we paying for anything? Maybe they would be content with such ‘workshops’ such as ‘How to Eat a Banana in Public’—that was important. I am considering withdrawing altogether. Banana, anyone?

  3. Beverly says:

    There is not doubt that the Events are very expensive for all of us. The problem is how do we pay for it all-a nice hotel, the food the service,the workshops.
    There really isn’t much that is fair for trans folks- those of us in transition face incredible hurdles,job loss,loss of family,astronomical medical bills. And those who dress on occasion who are oppressed by society’s condemnation.
    So a solution I have none though I will give the Events this, they got me out of the shadows and instilled some basic self esteem which I can carry to all my endeavors.
    The best to all for the holidays, Beverly

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