Let me start out by saying that everyone’s experiences are different. I can only provide you with my perspective. My first CD/TG conference experience was Southern Comfort (SCC) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in September 2016. I had only made the first tentative forays out in public in full Cyn mode earlier that year, which I wrote about in (). After a few more outings in the middle of the year, Samantha G and I gave each other the needed courage to go to that conference, and we had a blast. In 2017, I ventured to Washington State for Esprit, and in 2018 I went to both Esprit and Keystone.
The Keystone conference is held in March of each year in Harrisburg, PA. It’s within a 5-6 hour drive for tens of millions of people (and thousands of our community!). The conference itself lasts from Wednesday afternoon through Sunday morning. It’s a mix of experiences ranging from classes/seminars to social/dinner outings and speakers. There are opportunities to mix/match/mingle with others in the community. The classes/seminars run the gamut from deportment/makeup/fashion classes to medical consultations for those contemplating or planning transitioning as well as helping to deal with the emotional and social aspects of being CD/TG. There are SO (significant other) meetings to allow our partners to engage with other spouses as well as Big Sister programs to help the new attendees overcome their shyness and fears of being out for the first time. There are speakers at several luncheons, dinners host leaders from the national CD/TG community and from the medical practitioners who serve that community. Attendees can choose from various registration plans ranging from Saturday only to evenings only to full conference participation.
So what is it really like? I encourage you to read my articles about each of the conferences I, and many others, have attended for details of my personal experiences (which you can find by going to my profile page and clicking on articles and/or forum posts under my cover photo and scrolling for them). In general, the best part (to me) of the conferences is to push the limits of our comfort zones in expressing ourselves. If you are like most of us, you fall somewhere on the continuum of 1) never having gone out in public dressed, 2) made limited forays outside but not interacted with folks, 3) had some interactions but tend to avoid close contact with others, 4) confidently gone out and either blended in without notice or wasn’t worried about what anyone else thinks, or 5) live full time with or without medically transitioning. The conferences are valuable no matter where you fall on that continuum. For “rookies” it’s a chance to dip your toes in the water while surrounded by hundreds of fellow CD/TGs-helping to ease the anxiety that almost all of us experienced in the early days of our journeys. For those who are in the middle of their journeys, it’s a chance to step forward and “get comfortable in our own skin,” and to enjoy ourselves for an extended period of time without having to worry about being seen by other friends or families who aren’t aware about this side of us. And for the veterans, it’s a chance to work on perfecting our presentation and confidence, and to perhaps gain insights as to where our next steps will lead us.
The social aspects of the conference are vital, as you will have the opportunity to go out in groups to eat at restaurants around town-mixing with the public in a safe environment. There are opportunities to put on your clubbing outfits and dance the night away in the hotel ballrooms. (While I don’t dance while in male mode, Cyn loves to dance –even though not particularly great at it). And of course, there are adult beverages available in the hotel bars and pre-dinner cocktail get-togethers. You will meet dozens, if not hundreds of other girls, which you’ll make friends with and possibly choose to stay in contact with over the rest of the year. You can dress as formally or as casually as you like-though for many, this is the chance to wear that glittery gown you’ve been saving for a special occasion. You might even meet some of your fellow Crossdresser Heaven friends who are attending. I know that I will be there, and at least five other members of the ambassador team (Cloe, Samantha G, Stephanie Flowers, Rhonda Roe, and the irrepressible Wanda Full!) will be attending. I’ve also heard from several other members that are planning to attend.
You will see a new feature starting soon on Crossdresser Heaven about Events. You can indicate that you are attending as well as seeing who else will be there. You might PM them to make plans to get together at some point during the conference. We will also be highlighting other upcoming conferences and also local/regional events. Stay tuned for more about the new Events Page in the coming weeks as it rolls out! In the meantime, you can go to the Polls Forum to indicate whether you’re attending and to see who else is going!
So… if you have always wanted to get out and have fun, but were afraid to do it alone, you don’t have to let an opportunity like this pass you by. Registration is already well under way and you can find the detailed information on the conference webpage.
Hope to see you there!