Feleshia Porter

Local therapist Feleshia Porter says she looks forward to attending conference for professionals in gender studies


The World Professional Association for Transgender Health will hold its biennial symposium in Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 24–28.

The conference meets in a different spot every two years — it even came to Galveston in 2001 — and has gone international, with locations ranging from Italy to Belgium.

According to its website, WPATH, formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, is a professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders.

As an international multidisciplinary professional association, the mission of WPATH is to promote evidence-based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy and respect in transgender health.

Local gender therapist Feleshia Porter is one of the many gender study professionals who will be attending WPATH this year.

“It’s the only place I can go where I can learn about gender,” Porter said, explaining that usually when she travels to a conference, it’s her expertise others are learning from. WPATH is a place where she can go and be a student and learn from other professionals in her field, she said.

Membership to WPATH is open to professionals, students of transgender study and supporters for an annual fee. Many notable professionals and transgender individuals are giving presentations throughout the week, including celebrity trans man Chaz Bono, who is speaking on navigating the media as a trans person.

The topics covered at the symposium cover every possible corner of transgender health, from surgical procedure techniques to bullying and childhood abuse.

Registering for the symposium isn’t cheap; for non-members with a new membership fee, the cost is a hefty $650. The cheapest way in is as a student at $350, which requires that the applicant be a full-time graduate student in a program directly related to transgender health.

However, this still doesn’t cover the cost of airfare and a hotel room.

According to Porter, though, the expense is all worth it. And, she said, she just wishes she could make the out-of-country symposiums as well.