The 21st World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium was the largest in the Association's history, hosting 365 scientists, health care professionals, and guests from around the world. Several PHS faculty and clinicians presented at the three-day conference that was held June 17 - 20, 2009, at the historic Oslo Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica (parts of the hotel date back to 1894), one of Norway's largest conference hotels.
WPATH Executive Director, Bean Robinson, PhD, acknowledged, "I was worried that our Symposium would suffer from the effects of what we are now realizing was a worldwide recession. To have record-breaking international attendance from many countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa and a healthy balance sheet helps us to advance the mission of our Association to promote evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy and respect in transgender health. The fact that this great success occurred in the course of our collaboration with the Harry Benjamin Resource Center of Norway, a non-governmental organization founded by a trans woman who successfully advocated for the Norwegian government to provide full medical care for transsexuals, speaks to the benefits of scientific and community partnerships."
Started in 1979 the WPATH Symposium is held biennially to share research, treatment approaches, legal and human rights issues that will enhance the work of mental health professionals, the medical community, and legal and lay persons on behalf of individuals living with gender variance. This year more than 140 papers, posters, and discussions covered topics ranging from sexual development, surgery, medical ethics, health and well being, psychological treatment, cultural context, identity and relationships, children and adolescents, law, and human rights. The Symposium was supported financially by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Harry Benjamin Resource Center, the Tawani Foundation (located in Chicago, Illinois) and the The Open Society Institute, a subsidiary of the SOROS Foundation (located in New York City).
"The Norwegian Local Organizing Committee promised us the 'best symposium ever' and indeed, they delivered and then some," said Walter Bockting, PhD. "The venue had an amazing view, the food was gourmet and abundant, and the scientific program was stellar. We were honored by the attendance of the Crown Prince of Norway during the opening plenary. We learned about new advances in the field of transgender health, particularly emphasizing further change toward recognition of a spectrum of gender variance in which the added value of being transgender is affirmed and celebrated. As the new President of WPATH, I left Norway feeling extremely proud and ready to continue the important work of this unique professional association in collaboration with transgender community organizations worldwide."
The conference venue was located in the hills of Oslo overlooking the city center and the Oslo Fjord. The social programming included a welcome reception at Oslo City Hall where attendees were greeted by the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang. The "Taste of Norway" gala dinner was held at the beautiful Gamle Logen "Store Sal," and included folk music and dance with an extensive menu including Norwegian fish, seafood, and spekemat. The Crown Prince of Norway, Prince Haakon Magnus, attended the opening ceremony and first plenary session and Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Children and Equality addressed Symposium participants on behalf of the Norwegian government. Their participation publicly affirmed the Norwegian government's support for the human rights and medical treatment of transgendered individuals.
The Harry Benjamin Distinguished Service Award was presented to Christine Wheeler, PhD (New York, USA). At the meeting Dr. Bockting assumed the presidency of WPATH, a term he will hold until the next Symposium in 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Bean Robinson, PhD, continues as the Association's Executive Director. Eli Coleman, PhD, is a past president and is currently Chair of the Standards of Care Revision Committee.
Read the full address by Anniken Huitfeldt
Presentations and posters by PHS faculty and researchers included:
"The Rights of Incarcerated Trans People to Continuing Gender Reassignment Treatments" Walter Bockting, PhD, and Eli Coleman, PhD, participated in the workshop on law and medicine
"Stigma and Inherent Distress" Eli Coleman, PhD, participated in the working group report
"Understanding Sex Between FtM, Genderqueer People and Non-Transgender Men" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD
"Sexual Risk Taking Among Transgender Persons who Have Sex with Men" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Bean Robinson, PhD; Jeremy Grey, BA; Walter Bockting, PhD
"Where the Boys Are: Online Ethnography of Men Having Sex with Transgender Persons (MSTG)" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Muriel Vernon, MA; Walter Bockting, PhD
"Views From Both Sides of the Bridge. The Influence of Gender on Transgender People's Experiences of Relationships" Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD; Walter Bockting, PhD
"A Systematic Evaluation of Transgender Health-Related Online Resources" Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD; Jeremy Grey, BA; Keith J. Horvath, PhD; Walter Bockting, PhD
"Understanding Sex Between Trans Women and Non-Transgender Men" Bean Robinson, PhD; David Valentine, PhD; Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD, Jeremy Grey, BA; Walter Bockting, PhD
"Shaping Transgender-Specific Healthcare Services: An Anthropological Account" Marieke van Eijk, MA
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