Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-10-26
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


Transgender conference calling it quits after 30 years
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Citing waning participation and a shortfall of funds, one of the nation's largest transgender conferences has ceased organizing after more than three decades in the Chicago area.

The Be-All Conference, which gathered hundreds and hosted big name speakers in Downers Grove, has been cancelled.

"Everything has a life cycle, and unfortunately, it looks like we're at the end of ours," said Katie Thomas, an organizer of the conference.

According to Thomas, attendance at the spring event has dwindled in recent years, from about 500 at its peak to around 325 in 2012. That combined with a struggling economy and a lack of volunteers did the conference in.

Organizers faced a Dec. 28 deadline for booking a hotel for the 2013 conference. Facing declining attendance and financial liability, they finally called the event off.

News of the cancellation comes just weeks after Illinois Gender Advocates, longtime the only transgender policy organization in the state, announced it was considering dissolution due to declining membership.

Both organizations were primarily run by middle-aged transgender women, a large community currently experiencing waning participation across the board.

Chicago Gender Society, a transgender social group that formerly organized Be-All, has also struggled to maintain members.

"It's all in decline, really," Thomas said. "It's no fun playing in an empty house."

For years, Be-All served as one of few places in the country where many wanting to explore gender could go. While some identified as transgender publicly, others only crossed gender boundaries at the conference, often safely away from spouses or kids.

Be-All began 30 years ago, under the stewardship of Tri-Ess, a national crossdresser organization. Chicago Gender Society eventually took over the conference in 2000. It later became its own non-profit and has operated independently since.

Be-All trailed only one other conference, the Southern Comfort Conference, in attendance. Two years ago, the conference hosted Chaz Bono. Last year Amanda Simpson, the first out transgender presidential appointee, keynoted the event.

But many now lament that Be-All failed to attract younger participants to keep the organization going.

"Generationally, we're a lot older than the kids that are out there now," Thomas said. "We got to be an old ladies group."

But for those who have relied on Be-All for decades, Thomas points to a glimmer of hope. Transgender people have longed for acceptance in society beyond the conference, she said. Organizers worked hard to create a high-quality conference, with an emphasis on education to improve the lives of attendees beyond its annual meeting. Diminished attendance may signal the actualization of that dream.

"It's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy," Thomas said. "We set the standards ourselves, and we have no regrets about it."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Powerful documentary to premiere at 'TransReelization' 2016-10-26 - In one of the most powerful moments of the award-winning documentary film Free CeCe, transgender activist and civil rights icon CeCe McDonald talks ...

Gay News

Pidgeon Pagonis: On their film, White House visit, being on 'Transparent' 2016-10-26 - Self described gender non-conforming intersex activist and filmmaker and Chicago native, Pidgeon Pagonis ( born in 1986 on the Northwest Side of Chicago ...

Gay News

Transgender people more racially, ethnically diverse than general U.S. population 2016-10-25 - LOS ANGELES —Adults who identify as transgender are more racially and ethnically diverse than the U.S. population overall, according to a new study ...

Gay News

Uptown residents stage counter-demonstration to Westboro anti-trans protest 2016-10-21 - About 50 Uptown residents and other community members staged a counter-protest the morning of Oct. 21 when members of Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE: Trans model Isis King struts out with a new show 2016-10-19 - Reality star Isis King first made a splash on America's Next Top Model, becoming the first transgender person to compete on the show. ...

Gay News

Entertainment news: Miley Cyrus, TransNation, 'Prince Charming,' Whitney Houston 2016-10-18 - Miley Cyrus discussed her return to acting in Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes, encouraged waffling Bernie Sanders supporters to vote for Hillary ...

Gay News

[Trans]formation to showcase works by trans, genderqueer, intersex, non-binary artists 2016-10-15 - Nothing Without a Company and The Living Canvas are proud to present the world premiere of [Trans]formation, devised by Ronen Kohn, Darling Squire, ...

Gay News

Brandi "Chill" Bledsoe, transgender woman of color, killed in Cleveland 2016-10-13 - The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) has learned of the homicide of Brandi "Chill" Bledsoe, age 32, a Black transgender ...

Gay News

MIDWEST LGBTQ HEALTH SYMPOSIUM Trans military officer recounts life 2016-10-12 - Day two of the Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium, held at Advocate Illinois Medical Center in Lake View Oct. 7, began in dramatic fashion ...

Gay News

Dawn Valenti: A Chicago survivor's story 2016-10-12 - When trans woman of color T.T. Saffore was found murdered on Chicago's West Side Sept. 11, her grieving family and friends seemingly had ...


Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.
[email protected]  •  [email protected]  •  [email protected]

Website Powered by