Hurricane Irma has claimed at least one non-living victim – the 2017 Southern Comfort Transgender Conference. Scheduled for Sept. 14 to 16 at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, the conference most likely won’t occur again until next year.
Organizers announced the cancellation on their website and social media with promises of refunds for those who registered before Irma.
“We are sorry to announce that, due to Hurricane Irma, SCTC 2017 is cancelled. The safety of our attendees is of the utmost concern to us and everything points to Florida taking a nasty hit from this monstrous storm . . . Please give us some time to get your registration refunds done as we are dealing with a lot of issues at the moment, as you might imagine. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of Irma. Please take every precaution to protect yourself and your loved ones,” reads the website.
“We are in discussions [with the Riverside Hotel] for next year. I think I can say, with a 100 percent certainty, it will be 2018 [before we have another conference],” said Stefanie Schumacher, treasurer for the conference.
Schumacher said it’s been suggested that future conferences be held before or after hurricane season. But financial concerns, in the form of cheaper hotel rates, dictate the scheduling. Organizers could charge more but that might mean fewer people attend, she said.
“We’ve always tried to do the most economical conference for our attendees. The transgender community is famously not wealthy. We could raise the rates but are people going to be willing to pay for it?”
Those practical concerns are a part of the goal of the conference, this year and in years past.
Everything from legal name changes to information for crossdressers to information on surgery is discussed during the conference, said Schumacher. “We really try to cover every aspect of the transgender community. We really try and have something for everyone which is not easy to do because the transgender community is so vast.”
Visit sccfla.org to check for updates on the next conference.