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Reflections on the 2017 Trans Health Conference

Every year, myself and Dr. Thoroughgood attend the Transgender Health Conference, which is hosted by the Mazzoni Center, in order to make connections with folks in the transgender community and to learn about the pressing workplace equality issues they face. Just last month, we attended The Trans Health Conference, which is hosted in the Convention Center downtown and spans three full days. There are hundreds of sessions that take place during the free conference, covering a variety of topics including health, family and relationships, advocacy and workplace equality. This year, about 4,500 transgender individuals and allies to the community attended the conference.

Dr. Thoroughgood and I have attended this conference every year for the last 5 years and have always found the experience very valuable. This year, we also brought graduate students from HRD and Psychology to experience the conference and help to promote their research. Specifically, this year Megan Peiffer and Courtney Yoke from HRD, and Kelly Gabriel and Emily Bareis from Psychology helped to engage with participants and spread the word about the I/O research lab’s efforts. It was a particularly good year for the I/O Lab because they were able to share the results of their research efforts over the last 5 years with the conference participants.

While our work has been in progress for the past few years, all of the data have been collected using samples of individuals who we first connected with at the conference. Because the community has been so supportive of these projects, we were particularly excited to share our articles and book chapters with conference attendees. Specifically, we were able to share:

  • A conceptual article about transgender employee inclusivity published in Organizational Dynamics,

  • An empirical article about the importance of authenticity and coworker acceptance for employee undergoing gender transition published in Journal of Applied Psychology,

  • A book chapter from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace, and

  • An empirical article about the links between discrimination, paranoid cognitions, and emotional exhaustion at work for transgender employees published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.

It was really rewarding to hear prior research participants’ feedback on their work and we really enjoyed hearing that folks felt positive about the research we are doing. It was especially nice for us to hear that some of the people at the conference had already read some of the articles, either on their own or in a course they were taking. Because the research we do takes such a long time to complete from start to finish, it was really wonderful to see our work pay off and potentially make a difference in driving equality at work for transgender employees. Overall, the conference was a really great opportunity to grow and deepen their connections within the transgender community. We look forward to attending in the years to come!


Katina Sawyer, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Connect with her on LinkedIn and learn more about her here!


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