In a year when transgender issues have been at the forefront of conversation and headlines around the nation, Fort Lauderdale will be the home of the Southern Comfort Conference, the largest annual trans conference in North America.
In fact, Fort Lauderdale has been announced as the host city for the conference for the next three years.
The conference, which has been held since 1991, features high-profile guest speakers, seminars, and special events geared toward the transgender community. This year's conference will feature Broward transgender 14-year-old and LGBTQ activist Jazz Jennings as a keynote speaker, and the event has reached out to Caitlyn Jenner to be a part of the festivities. Laverne Cox, who stars in Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, may also be in attendance.
“As a destination that welcomes all people with a diverse, safe, and open community, we aim to put trans people in the forefront of the LGBTQ community instead of being the often forgotten ‘T,’” said Richard Gray, LGBTQ managing director for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, via a news release. “We are educating lesbian and gay travelers, mainstream audiences and using our platform as a leader in the LGBTQ travel space to illustrate Broward County’s commitment and respect for trans individuals.”
The four-day conference, which has been held in Atlanta in previous years, will be held at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa from September 29 through October 3. More than a thousand attendees are expected at the various workshops, seminars, and networking events.
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Fort Lauderdale has the only Convention and Visitor Bureau in the United States with a department specifically designed to target the LGBTQ community's needs. In 2014, the city commissioned the first-ever survey of transgender travelers in North America in order to meet LGBTQ needs through marketing efforts, such as traveling likes, hotel preferences, and other needs geared to meet the trans community's needs.
Moreover, the Convention and Visitor Bureau of Greater Fort Lauderdale came up with an ad campaign called “Where Happy Meets Go Lucky” that features authentic transgender models, as well as a webpage specifically designed for transgender travelers and tourists.
“We are thrilled to bring our conference to such a welcoming, progressive, and beautiful destination for our 25th year,” said Lexi Dee, president of the Southern Comfort Conference, in a release. “I look forward to our conference and partnership growing over the next three years with the help and dedication of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has led the way for the trans community and helps to deliver an authentic and welcoming experience for transgender visitors.”
Registration for the 25th-annual Southern Comfort Conference is open and available at the event's website.