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GUEST POST: The Power of You: Annual Black Transmen, Inc. Conference Recap

The 2nd Annual Black Transmen, Inc. Conference, March 13-17, 2013, and the introduction of Black Transwomen, Inc. was an amazing and joyous time. This gathering was more than a conference – it was a combination of seminar, reunion and revival.  Carter Davis and Esperanza Brown put together an amazing volunteer staff – Treach Wilson, Vann M. Millhouse, Mykell Price, Charley Burton, Mekhi Johnson, Diwa Cain, Kendall Brown and Jevon Martin head the regional/state chapters, DeLeon Harris and Mercedes Thompson support the host city – and all of them exemplify the warm and genuine care of southern hospitality.

This year’s event included presentations aimed at addressing the entirety of our community needs – ranging from  resume building and credit repair to estate planning, starting your own business and buying your first home, coming out as trans in the workplace to the history of the Ball culture and our place in it. There was an offering on trans with trans relationships – from friendship and kinship to romance. We talked about our health – from chest and breast wellness, to suicide prevention. We talked about our issues – overcoming depression, parenting in transition, the risks of silicone injection and how to combat and report rape and violent crimes.  Dr. Peter Raphael presented on gender confirmation surgeries.  Dr. Kortney Ryan Zeigler presented on advocacy for trans people of color through Social Entrepreneurship. We enjoyed presence and presentations by trans-Latinas/os. Our spouses, partners and significant loves held spaces for their support and enrichment. 

We played as much as we worked. TransManifest (spoken word and cabaret) was amazing and lively. The 1st Mr. & Ms. Black Trans International Pageant was equally as awesome. And the Black Diamond Ball was on fire. The iconic House of Ebony, the storied House of Blahnik and the powerful House of Escada were all on board. 

The black-tie BTMI Awards Ceremony Dinner was held in the beautiful Skyline Ballroom, Agencies and organizations were honored for their work and support. Many new faces received Rising Star Awards for their work and commitment, locally and nationally. I wish that I had space to name all of the recipients here. Four Foundation Awards were introduced and awarded. Kylar Broadus, Esq. was awarded the Equality Award, Monica Roberts the Advocacy Award, Dr. Kortney Ryan Zeigler the Awareness Award and I was awarded the Empowerment Award. We were all humbled and moved to know that our community held us in such high esteem and to know that each year someone will receive these awards named after us.

"A good time" is an enormous understatement about our BTMI gathering this year. It was moving, motivating, life-changing, heart-warming, amazing, soul-stirring, family-growing, nurturing, loving and awe-inspiring. My words don’t do justice to what we, as a community and family, are doing.  If you missed it this year, plan on joining us next year…come and pour into our communal ocean and drink from the power of love, unity and family that our waters provide.

To get involved for next year, visit their website,

– Rev. Louis Mitchell

Rev. Louis Mitchell serves as the Engagement Coordinator for the Interfaith Working Group, a member of the National Black Justice Coalition’s Leadership Advisory Council, and a founding member of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries’ Trans-Saints, serving as their East Coast Regional Minister. Mitchell was honored as the recipient of the 2011 Haystack Award from the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC for his work in Social Justice and Social Ministry. 

Photo Courtesy of Black Transmen Inc.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.