Published: March 7, 2019

Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone
Image courtesy of Brianna Titone's website

Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone, the first transgender woman elected to public office in state history, is among the headline speakers at this year’s TRANSforming Gender Conference taking place March 9–10 at CU Boulder.

The conference, now in its 13th year, is co-sponsored by the CU Boulder Center for Inclusion and Social Change and Out Boulder County and draws participants from around Colorado and from other Pac-12 universities. Last year, some 714 people attended the conference, including alumni, students, staff and faculty, said Morgan Seamont, assistant director of intersectional identity development at the Center for Inclusion and Social Change.

Seamont said the conference works “to increase visibility and education about transgender identities and issues while bringing the transgender and allied communities together.”

This year’s event will feature more than 60 workshops on topics such as trans inclusion in K-12 and higher education and discussions on how to be a trans ally, unlearning racial bias in the LGBTQ community, queer activism burnout, and gender diversity within Native American communities.

“The conference is a great opportunity to come learn more about what it means to be transgender, understand some of the issues trans people are faced with and build meaningful community among transgender people and their allies,” Seamont said.

TRANSforming Gender Conference

The conference, free and open to the public, is dedicated to celebrating trans identities in all their forms and hosts workshops, panels, discussions and other conference sessions over two days. 

 March 9–10 Koelbel Building

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Titone, a geologist who represents Colorado’s District 27, which covers northwestern Jefferson County and parts of Arvada, will speak about her experience as one of the first openly transgender women to win public office and the challenges of running for, winning and keeping her office in one of Colorado’s most politically polarized districts.

Conference organizers hope that Titone’s message will inspire “a generation of transgender leaders to stand up, take the reins and fight for their destiny as visible, equal and empowered participants in our democracy.”

Titone will speak from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. March 9 in Koelbel 210.

Other notable speakers

Hina Wong-Kalu, who is described as “a fierce advocate for maintaining Hawaiian culture,” will also speak from 2 to 3:15 p.m. March 9 in Koelbel 135.

Known for her work with youth in her native Hawaii, Wong-Kalu was featured in the documentary film Kuma Hina, a story told through the lens of a native Hawaiian who is also a proud and confident māhū or transgender woman and an honored and respected kumu, or teacher, cultural practitioner and community leader.

On March 10, the featured speaker will be Meredith Talusan, an award-winning journalist and author who has written features, essays and opinion pieces for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, VICE, The Nation and other publications.

She has also contributed to several books, including The New York Times best-seller Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, which was edited by Roxane Gay. Her memoir, Fairest, is forthcoming from Viking/Penguin Random House.