2nd Annual Transgender Leadership Summit

March 23-25, 2007

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

More than 200 transgender activists and allies crowded into the Topping Student Center at USC for a dynamic weekend of brainstorming, networking, and skills building. Solidifying the advancements that the transgender rights movement has made over the last decade and looking to the future, participants worked at a break-neck pace to lay the foundation for even greater advances in the decade to come.

For the second year in a row, Los Angeles County was the best represented region of the state. However, the participants of this year’s event represented even more California cities and towns than last years’ event. The Bay Area was again well represented and San Diego increased their participation. As did Central California, the Inland Empire, and far Northern parts of the state.

Participants described their gender identity in wide ranging ways with over 90% listing themselves as transgender. By all accounts, the event participants were more culturally and ethnically diverse than last year with a majority of attendees identifying as people of color. And the age range stretched from adolescent to senior citizen.

Evaluations for individual workshops and each plenary demonstrated that the programming was well received. Most people found the workshops to be very useful and filled with skills building opportunities. The plenaries were particularly well received and stimulated ideas, connections, and discussion. You can view video from the Friday and Sunday plenaries below.

Without a doubt, the 2007 Summit solidified the need for this event each year and increased the number of people who want to participate as planning committee members. Planning for 2008 will begin in the summer of 2007. If you’d like to join the committee, just send us an email.


Opening Plenary: Bringing the Movement Home
We’ve been witness to huge changes in the transgender movement in the last five years.
The opening plenary panelists, each a local, statewide, or national leader, will highlight
some of those changes and offer a unique vision for where the movement could or should
go next. Panelists will engage the audience in an open question-and-answer period and
will also help the audience map community assets from around the state.

Panelists: Mikayla Connell (San Francisco LGBT Pride); Mara Keisling (National Center for
Transgender Equality); Alexander Lee (Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project); Tracie O’Brien (STAR Project); Masen Davis (FTM Alliance of Los Angeles)

Lunch Plenary: Young, Transgender, and Proud
What is it like to be young and transgender? This panel of transgender youth from across the state will discuss their lives, goals, and expectations for the future. What can the movement do to better address the needs of youth? How has the work we’ve been doing over the last decades shaped their lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined? Have lunch, get inspired and be informed about the lives of five transgender youth from different regions of California. Moderator: Danielle Castro (Community Health Partnership, Santa Clara County) (For privacy reasons, only the panelists’ names will not be disclosed.)

Keynote Plenary: Transgender Rights, Transgender Lives
All available data demonstrates that when people know more about transgender people they are more likely to support anti-discriminatory policies and laws. How do we effectively talk about our lives and the lives of people in our families? Panelists will share lessons they’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t work in talking to people about the lives and needs of the transgender community.

Panelists: Mike/Michelle Dennis (GenderQueer Revolution); Jamison Green (World Professional Association for Transgender Health);  Sylvia Guerrero (Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education); Caitriona Reed (Manzanita Village);  Alexis Rivera (Transgender Law Center), riKu Matsuda, (Pacifica Radio )

Leadership Track Workshops

Activists Healing Ourselves: This workshop addresses the many forms of forms of healing and redemption available to the transgender community as we move into the realm of activism. We experience everyday pain simply trying to live our lives, so it is essential we have some healing before we open ourselves up to public scrutiny and the demands of being involved in social justice. Come learn how to make healing a vital and vibrant part of your activism! Presenters: Yoseñio Lewis, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation; Valerie Spencer, Transcend Empowerment Institute; Martin Rawlings-Fein, FTM International; Miss Major, Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project

Maturing as Leaders: Maturing as Leaders wants Y-O-U. All of you. Bring your heart and soul to a facilitated discussion where we will share our challenges and successes as leaders. This workshop will shine a light on how our experiences have contributed to our personal maturity and the development of our leadership style. Presenter: Lyle Blake, Queer Community Activist

Leadership Development: From organizing events to changing the law, learn the necessary skills to lead a successful movement. Five panelists will share insights of community building and the important lessons learned. Presenters: Patricia Kevena Fili, Lighthouse Community Center; Hannah Howard, Community Advocate; Doug Heumann, Community Organizer; Bamby Salcedo, Transgeneros Unidas; Alexander Yoo, GenderQueer Revolution; Cecilia Chung, Transgender Law Center

Community Track Workshops

Community Organizing: This workshop will use Los Angeles’s Community Clinics Campaign as a model to examine community organizing principles and definitions. We’ll cover why a community organizing model is being used in this campaign and how the universality of healthcare access makes health an excellent issue for mobilizing the trans community. Learn how to identify a constituency, organize and build a campaign and create social change. Presenters: Ed Varga (FTM Alliance of Los Angeles); members of the C3 campaign

Media 101: The cameras are rolling. Are you ready? What does it take to be a community spokesperson? How can you prepare yourself, your organization and your allies to successfully work with the media to get your message out? This fun, interactive workshop will get participants ready to move beyond the off-the-cuff interview into planning out – and sticking to – key talking points in any interview. Presenters: Madison P. Senini, Northrop Grumman; Monica Taher, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination

Using New Media: It’s all about YouTube – and so much more. Never before have activists had as many ways to shape their own messages and create their own media. This workshop will provide activists insights into what is new and emerging in the world of media so that they’ll be better prepared to get online and get their message out. Presenters: Autumn Sandeen, Transgender Equality Alliance; Samantha Davis, Mission College; Marti Abernathy, TransAdvocate.com

Organizational Development Track Workshops

Building an Organization: Do you have a great idea? Do you see a need that isn’t being fulfilled in the community? How can you create an organization to further your idea or meet that need? This workshop focuses on key building blocks to creating a relevant and sustainable organization. Presenters: Christopher Daley, Transgender Law Center; Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality

Introduction to Strategic Planning: This workshop will go over the nuts and bolts of creating a strategic plan for a non-profit group for the purposes of activism, community awareness or support of the transgender community. Panelists will cover the steps for identifying and setting mission, vision, values, and goals. Learn some great strategies to getting your organization off to the right start, or to restart one that is in a bit of a rut. Presenters: Rabbi Levi Alter, FTM International; Allison Laureano, Transgender San Francisco; Connor Maddocks, STAR Project

Leading Outside of the Movement: Take a look at how transgender people can get involved in issues that are not specifically transgender related, thereby increasing the community’s visibility, viability, credibility and acceptance. This session will focus on ways to let our skills, talents and personalities shine – allowing society see, hear and feel who we are and what we are made of – as we get involved in everyday issues. Panelists will advise current and future leaders on how to get involved outside of the transgender movement. Presenters: Kelley Winters, Transgender Medical Policy Writer; Mattheus E. Stephens, Stock Stephens, LLP; Amanda Simpson, Special Programs, Raytheon; Vicki Estrada, Estrada Land Planning


Sponsorship of the Transgender Leadership Summit was provided in part by:

Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman gains strength from our diversity,
greater than the sum of our extraordinary parts

Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team
A&PI Wellness Center
Bienestar Human Services
Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center
Center for Transgender Advancement
Equality California
FTM Alliance of L.A.
FTMI San Buenaventura Reed Erickson Chapter
Female-to-Male International
GenderQueer Revolution
Lighthouse Community Center
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
New American Christian Church

Orange County Transgender Coalition
Project STAR
Sacramento Gender Association
San Francisco Human Rights Commission
TGI Justice Project
Transcend Empowerment Institute
Transgender Advocacy and Services Center
Transgender Community of Police & Sheriffs
Transgender Equality Alliance
Transgender Law Center
Transgeneros Unidas Program
TransPowerment Program
Tri-City Health Center TransVision Program
USC LGBT Resource Center

Planning Committee:
Levi Alter
Marcus Arana
Ali Bay
Cecilia Chung
Christopher Daley
Jillian DeCosta
Vicki Estrada
Jamison Green
Hannah Howard
Melanie Jones

HLisa Kassner
Patricia Kevena Fili
Victoria Kolakowski
Alex Lee
Yosenio Lewis
Danielle Lopez
Miss Major
Roslyn Manley
riKu Matsuda
Marty Rawlings-Fein

Alexis Rivera
Bamby Salcedo
Autumn Sandeen
Aejaie Sellers
Madison Senini
Tiffany Woods-Bodine
Georgeann Yost
Vincent Vigil

Presenter Bios:

Meet some of the leaders speaking at this year’s plenary sessions and workshops. (This is a partial list.)

Marti Abernathy is a transgender activist from Indiana. She has been involved with the “Radical Trannies” podcast for TransFM and runs the TransAdvocate.com blog hosting service for transgender bloggers. She blogs on TransAdvocate.com and MartiAbernathy.com.

Rabbi Levi Alter is the fourth of five generations of intersex individuals in his family. He is President of FTM International and the FTMI San Buenaventura Reed Erickson Chapter. He is also a member of the FTM Alliance of Los Angeles and on the Executive Board of GenderQueer Revolution. He currently works for trans inclusion in religion, health care and other fields as a public speaker, director of a health care corporation and rabbi of his congregation.

Lyle Blake has been actively involved in the queer community for more than 25 years. His leadership style is one of quiet behind-the-scenes involvement and motivation. He loves a good story, the energy of a good women’s basketball game, the sound of the ocean and the warmth of a roaring fire.

Danielle Anderson-Castro, a Santa Clara County Human Relations Commissioner, is the HIV Services Program Coordinator for the TransPowerment Program of the Community Health Partnership. She is cofounder of the transgender youth support group at the local LGBTQQI Community Center, and is one of many advocates in her region. Her vision is to create long lasting positive changes for the gender variant community to ensure equal access to healthcare, education and any other services needed.

Christopher Daley began the Transgender Law Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights in 2001. In 2002, he became the Co-Director of the Transgender Law Center. As TLC’s current Director, he provides legal assistance to transgender clients, presents workshops and writes on transgender legal issues, participates in public policy initiatives, and assists attorneys in effectively representing transgender clients.

Masen Davis is the Director of Development at United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the LGBT Chair of United Way of America’s Inclusion Council. Masen is a long-time transgender activist, serving on the boards of FTM Alliance of Los Angeles, a nonprofit he co-founded to empower the female-to-male transgender community, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. He received his Master’s of Social Welfare from UCLA and B.A. from Northwestern University.

Samantha Davis is a relative newcomer to the transgender community at the age of 19 and in her sixth month of transition. Nonetheless, she has made it her mission to raise awareness, especially though a new newsletter she is working on with Autumn Sandeen. Her long-term goal is to become a social psychologist working to combat discrimination. She is a student at Mission College, Santa Clara.

Mike/Michelle Dennis is trans/genderqueer; West Hollywood Transgender Task Force Co-Chair; member of the GenderPac National Advisory Board, League of Trans Unified Sisters, and Genderqueer Revolution Board; presents as both Mike and Michelle in almost all areas of his/her life; and a gender rights advocate.

Vicki Estrada, FASLA, APA, is a landscape architect and urban designer and President of Estrada Land Planning. Her firm provides land planning, landscape architecture, GIS, visual analysis, computer simulations and urban design services. Vicki is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Landscape Architecture and has been active in the local community for many years. She currently serves on the San Diego Transgender Advocacy and Services Center Board.

Patricia Kevena Fili is the Executive Director at the Lighthouse Community Center and works as a consultant for the Transgender Law Center’s Transgender Health Access Project in Alameda County.

Jamison Green has been a legislative provocateur advocating for transgender health, safety and civil rights since 1991. He is the author of “Becoming a Visible Man” (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004), and serves on the boards of the Transgender Law & Policy Institute, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Human Rights Campaign Business Council.

Sylvia Guerrero was born and raised in San Francisco’s East Bay, where she was the eldest of a family of fourteen children. She worked as a legal secretary for 16 years, and is now the mother of four children. Following the murder of her child, Gwen, Sylvia committed herself to protecting other families with LGBT children. She often speaks to individuals, local youth, community groups and students about Gwen’s experiences in school and the workplace and about the need for societal change and education regarding transgender equality.

Doug Heumann has been involved in LGBT organizations for more than 20 years, helping found the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast in 1996.

Hannah Howard has been an advocate for transgender people in Los Angeles for four years and works for Outfest, a queer film festival.

Mara Keisling is the founding Executive Director of NCTE. A Pennsylvania native, Mara moved to Washington D.C. after co-chairing the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition. Mara is a transgender-identified woman who also identifies as a parent and a Pennsylvanian. She is a graduate of Penn State University and did her graduate work at Harvard University in American Government. Mara has almost 25 years of experience in social marketing and opinion research.

Alexander Lee is a “he”-identified transperson currently living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2004, he founded the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project, a legal nonprofit dedicated to promoting the civil and human rights of transpeople in prisons and jails, which he currently directs. He is a graduate of the Boalt Hall School of Law at UC-Berkeley.

Yoseñio V. Lewis is a Latino female-to-male transsexual who has been an activist since 1973. A health educator, speaker, writer, performer, trainer, facilitator and spiritual hugger, Yoseñio is a member of the Board of Directors of The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation and the Tenderloin Health. He is also a member of the board of the recently-created national Latino organization — Unid@s, the National Latina/o Human Rights Organization. He was also most recently on the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and is a co-founder of a theatrical writing and performing company and a barbershop quartet composed of transsexual men.

Connor Maddocks is currently the Facilities Manager of the San Diego LGBT Center. He is President of FTMI Padraig Hall San Diego Chapter of FTMI International, served as co-chair of the San Diego Transgender Community Coalition, and now holds a seat on the Transgender Advocacy and Services Center of San Diego steering committee. He is also a member of the San Diego Pride board of directors, has been a co-chair for the San Diego Transgender Day of Remembrance, and served on committees for the San Diego Transgender Day of Empowerment. He does many speaking engagements and trainings on various aspects of the transgender community.

Miss Major is a long-time activist in the transgender community. A sculptor, instead of working with clay, she works with people’s minds. Miss Major has worked at many community organizations and public health agencies serving the transgender community, including the Ark of Refuge, Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center, the Santa Clara Department of Public Health AIDS Program, and the San Diego AIDS Foundation. She is currently the Community Organizing Director for the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project. For her lifetime of activism, she recently received the Social Justice Sabbatical Award from the Vanguard Public Foundation.

Tracie Jada O’Brien is a certified addictions treatment counselor and spent six years as a counselor and coordinator for Extend Services at Stepping Stone of San Diego, Inc., a nationally renowned alcohol and drug treatment facility that serves the LGBT community. Tracie is currently the Coordinator of Project S.T.A.R. (Supporting Transgender Access to Resources), a groundbreaking and historical project of Family Health Centers of San Diego, which is funded by the California Endowment.

Martin Rawlings-Fein is a former Co-Chair of FTM International, a former Co-Chair of San Francisco Transgender Empowerment, Advocacy & Mentorship and a current appointee to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission LGBT Advisory Committee. He is also a lay leader at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco’s only LGBT affiliated synagogue. Martin recently completed a film project, Clocked: An Oral History, which portrays the personal histories of six transgender people. It will play at film festivals across the nation beginning in June.

Caitríona Reed is a teacher, group facilitator and poet. She has led retreats and workshops in Buddhism, Deep Ecology, and Social Responsibility in the U.S. and Europe for more than 20 years. Since 1971 she has trained with Buddhist and Sufi teachers, including Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, in whose lineage she was given formal transmission as a teacher in 1992. Along with her partner Michele Benzamin-Miki, she is co-founder of Ordinary Dharma in Los Angeles and Manzanita Village Retreat Center in Warner Springs.

Alexis M. Rivera is currently working at the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco as a Policy Advocate. Prior her to her work at the TLC, she was the Project Coordinator for the Tranny Rockstar Project at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Alexis has received several awards for her contributions to the transgender community.

Bamby Salcedo is a program manager for the Transgeneros Unidas (TU) Program with Bienestar Human Services. TU provides HIV prevention services for the Latina Transgender community in the Los Angeles County.

Autumn Sandeen is a planning group member for the Transgender Advocacy and Services Center (TASC) of San Diego and the secretary of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA). She is a news archivist for Transgendernews, and blogs on the Ex-Gay Watch, Pam’s House Blend and The View From (Ab)Normal Heights.

Madison P. Senini is a graduate of Arizona State University’s bachelors and masters programs in Theatre with major emphasis on directing and screenwriting.  She is a produced screenwriter whose credits can be found on www.imdb.com and has been listed in Who’s Who in American Film Now.  She is currently a communications manager for Northrop Grumman and lives in Palmdale with her fiancée Gina Piellusch and their daughter Sabrina.

Amanda R. Simpsonis a Program Manager for Raytheon Missile Systems. A senior employee of over 20 years, she has remained in the same position she held prior to her gender transition, working with management and human resources to smooth concerns. Since her successful workplace transition, Amanda has consulted and advised numerous employers and gender variant employees as well as legislators. Amanda became the first openly transgender candidate to win a primary election in the U.S. in her run for the Arizona State Legislature in 2004.

Valerie Spencer describes herself as“being a woman from birth, but discovering that just a bit later.”Valerie works in social services representing transgender persons and is currently developing the Transcend Empowerment Institute, an organization that addresses the social, cultural and spiritual well-being of trans people on a holistic basis. She also authored Los Angeles County’s first curriculum addressing Transgenderism from a people of color perspective and develops trans specific trainings and seminar materials. Valerie co-developed the Transgender Leadership Academy, a collaborative effort of the Los Angeles Transgender Youth Consortium and the FTM Alliance.

Mattheus E. Stephens is a partner in the San Diego law firm Stock Stephens, LLP. In addition to being a Lecturer at the University of California-San Diego, Matt specializes in general civil litigation and has handled a wide range of cases involving business disputes, employment issues, Civil Rights claims, and domestic partner dissolutions. Matt is currently litigating a case against the Boy Scouts of America to terminate their long-term public parkland leases with the City of San Diego.

Ed Varga is a Community Organizer with FTM Alliance of Los Angeles. He is also the founder and executive director of Homo A Go Go, an international festival of queer music, art, film, performance and radical activism. He has been a force in the queer independent arts and queercore movements since 1995, when he founded Homocore Minneapolis. Ed has been a vocal activist in the trans community since 1994. From 1989 to 1993, he spent his college years as a campus and labor organizer.

Kelley Winters, Ph.D., works as an engineer and research and development program manager for the Hewlett-Packard Co. in San Diego. Kelley is active in HP’s PRIDE and Safe Space Resource Groups and was instrumental in gaining transgender inclusion in the equal opportunity policies at Hewlett-Packard. She is also a writer on issues of transgender medical policy, founder of GID Reform Advocates (www.gidreform.org), and member of the advisory board for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Alexander Yoo

helped form the first LGBTIQ Alliance, which led to the introduction of a new LGBTIQ specialization in the M.A. Psychology program at Antioch University-Los Angeles. He also founded GenderQueer Revolution in 2002.