Gender Infinity is another organization making waves across the city’s LGBT community. Co-founders Becca and Colt Keo-Meier and Bob McLaughlin are doing their part to help Houston’s transgender community, in particular. The organization works to make transgender Americans more accepted in society by providing educational and support services to empower transgender youths and their families.
Gender Infinity provides training for organizations looking to be more inclusive of its transgender members, maintains the most comprehensive list of transgender or gender-nonconforming support groups in Greater Houston, and offers families of transgender youth various mental-health resources. But the group’s main focus is its eponymous conference, which helps to bridge the gap among healthcare providers, the local transgender community, and supporters. This year’s conference is on October 23 and 24, focusing on provider and advocacy training for those working with families and youth.
The first day of the conference centers around education for activists, providers, educators, lawyers, and allies who want to better understand transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. Colt Keo-Meier says that anyone who wants to learn more about the transgender community is encouraged to attend on Friday. “You just need to be someone who is interested in building on their advocacy skills for transgender people, someone who wants to be a better ally for the community—[especially] lawyers, doctors or healthcare providers, teachers, etc.”
The second day focuses on helping families understand how to best care for a transgender or gender-nonconforming children between ages 4 and 25. The conference is often the first time families with transgender or gender-nonconforming children have a safe space to talk about transgender issues, and Keo-Meier says all participants benefit from attending. “A lot of these families are very nervous, feel scared and isolated, and we provide an environment at the conference [that’s] very understanding and welcoming. We always receive very positive feedback from our attendees—from even the most skeptical partners.”
Keo-Meier points out an often-overlooked impact that Gender Infinity has: “This work is also very beneficial to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer folks, because many of them—not all, but many—are gender-nonconforming when they’re younger. We forget that the majority of gender-nonconforming youth will not grow up to be transgender, but [instead] will grow up to be cisgender and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer.” This principle of acceptance can be seen in many facets of the conference, right down to its name: “The name “Gender Infinity” indicates that we understand gender to be infinitely more complex from the gender binary, so kids with any gender identity and expression are invited—especially the ones who are expressing gender in a way that is not expected.”
The keynote speaker of this year’s conference, a nine-year-old transgender boy named Alex, famous for his rap song about coming out as transgender to his mother, will serve to show attendees the importance of the conference’s focus. Other speakers include internationally recognized expert Dr. Jo Olsen, along with other healthcare providers and transgender advocates. Services will be provided in both English and Spanish.
Keo-Meier says that because of Gender Infinity’s close proximity to Mexico, and its being “the only resource of its type in the south-central United States,” the organization is anticipating major growth in attendance this year and next. The best way to help Gender Infinity is to donate to it. “Very few sources of funding are available for work as specific [as ours], and a lot of times the children get forgotten in the work [happening] with gender these days; we have people more focused on adult care.” —Eli Winter
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