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The Keystone 17 Conference – a Younger Generation Perspective

I Met Someone Special

I met someone special at the Keystone 17 Conference in Harrisburg, PA this past March. Sarah was among the most excited first year participants I ever met. Bubbling with energy and sporting a huge smile, she seemed to be everywhere: helping vendors; making friends in the hallway; and checking out classes. At 10 years old, I have to believe this fifth grader made a lasting positive first impression on many she met.

Sarah’s mother, Rena, had participated in Keystone Conferences previously. Based on Rena’s experience, Sarah begged her mom to attend and finally convinced her this year.

Readers might like to know that Rena has been called to ministry serving the LGBT community and was a Keystone 17 presenter. Rena has reviewed and approved this article and photo for publication.

The following is a brief interview I conducted with Sarah about her Keystone 17 experience.

Why did you want to attend the Keystone Conference?

Sarah: What motivated me to come to Keystone was that I wanted to understand transgender people better in a state that they would be happy in even if they were only there for a short time. They could be who they wanted to be at Keystone and not have to worry about being judged. I just wanted to see people be who they wanted to be or really were.

My mom would talk about how fun and cool it was at Keystone and it made me want to go and when I finally went I met so many amazing people. I Iearned fun and cool things and did fun stuff but the thing I loved most about it was seeing every one so happy they were who they wanted to be.

Has attending Keystone Conference changed you? If so, how?

Sarah: Yes, it has changed me because I understand transgender men and women way better now. I can tell my friends that Trans people are not weird or bad, that instead they are really awesome and cool.

They should be treated just like everyone else and are nice and sweet. My friends really believe me and now want to learn more about Keystone too.

Have you talked about your Keystone conference experience to your classmates at school? If so, what was their reaction?

Sarah: Yes, I have and their reaction was awesome. They wanted to know more. It’s like they were vampires and they were feeding off my excitement!

Did you make friends, or meet people, at the conference that you hope to stay in contact with?

Sarah: Yes, lots of people like Aunt Beth (author’ note: Elizabeth Taylor is a trans-friendly makeover artist and photographer), Aunt Tracy, Suzie, Lisa, Sandra and I hope to stay in contact with you of course.

If you could attend next year's Keystone conference, what would be the most interesting things you'd like to do there?

Sarah: I would like to learn more and maybe do a class on makeup and have you be a model for me. I want to see everyone that I met this year and meet even more people and bring friends and just have fun again learning new things about people.

Well, let me put it this way, I want it to be like this year just way better and more fun. I hope to come for many years.

Is there anything else you want to say about your Keystone Conference experience?

Sarah: Nora, I just want to thank you so much for being nice to me at the Conference and helping with this article. I went to Keystone worried I would have no fun and be shy and no one would pay attention to me at all but I was wrong. Everyone loved me and I loved everyone so it is just awesome. Thank you so much.

Authors Note - The Central Message

Since Sarah befriended me, I’m frequently asked about her gender. My response has consistently been: “She refers to herself as a girl, but regardless of her gender, the important point is that she is being raised to be understanding, respectful, and accepting of transgender people. With parent’s like Rena, the future certainly looks brighter.” I hope you agree that is the central message of this interview.

About Nora

Ms. Nora Simone is a GF MTF CD. She regularly writes about fashion, health, and people she finds inspiring in the Transgender community. Her writings are available at, Frock Magazine, and TransLiving International. Nora is a mainstream woman’s fashion model who donates 100% of her earnings to TG charitable causes. She is a member of the Vanity Club and happily married to Eva who also attended Keystone 17.

About Lehigh Valley Renaissance

The leading organization for support and education around transgender issues in Eastern PA and Western NJ, our focus is on helping transgender individuals as they work through their journey to become their authentic selves while helping the community at large learn more about what it means to be transgender.

If you would like to learn more about our Lehigh Valley transgender support group or to write an article for our blog please contact Lehigh Valley Renaissance or better yet join us at one of our monthly transgender support meetings!

Note: The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily that of Lehigh Valley Renaissance or the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.

Photo is used with permission of Cassandra Storm Photography, York, PA.

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