The Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference is an interdisciplinary and biennial LGBTQ+ studies conference, which is free-of-charge and open to undergraduate and graduate students both at and outside of Kenyon. Community members are also welcome to attend.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 conference was held in a virtual setting, but the conference remained free-of-charge and open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as community members. The 2021 conference occurred virtually from Friday, April 9, to Sunday, April 11, and the conference will return again in spring 2023.
The Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference is a new and growing biennial conference. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the conference developed from a need to provide a place for queer and trans scholarship, activism and community building. The conference is built upon a model of interdisciplinarity, intersectionality and equity.
The Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference includes five tracks:
1. healthcare and technology;
2. visual and performing arts;
3. humanities and popular culture;
4. politics, society and the law; and
Each of these carefully selected tracks encompasses the desire to facilitate spaces for discussions about queer and trans issues in distinct areas of scholarship and everyday life.
Recognizing the unique set of identities throughout the broader LGBTQ+ community, the Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference also offers drop-in networking/socializing spaces for femme-identifying students and LGBTQ+ people of color. These dedicated spaces are offered throughout conference sessions with the intent of creating intersectional spaces exclusive to attendees, who may want intra-community discussions throughout the conference.
The Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference models itself on practices of equity building. The conference is free to eliminate some economic barriers that may prohibit students from attending, and when the conference is offered in-person, it includes free breakfast and lunch, with the understanding that food insecurity is often an issue in marginalized communities. Whether virtual or in-person, the conference utilizes accessible spaces when possible.
The conference is both intended to be intersectional and interdisciplinary in scope. For this reason, the conference organizing committee welcomes proposals for a variety of LGBTQ+ topics and presentation formats. Each session for the conference will be 45 minutes long.
Conference proposals may be submitted by undergraduate and graduate students at any educational institution. Faculty/staff from other colleges and individuals from the broader community are welcome to attend this conference; however, please note that they are not able to submit proposals for review, as this conference is intended to celebrate and share student scholarship and knowledge.
Examples of presentation formats include: panel discussions with multiple people (either submitting proposals together or separately), workshops led by one or multiple presenters, performances, and interactive facilitated discussions on a specific topic.
Proposal submissions for the 2023 conference will be solicited in fall 2022. Submit a proposal.
As this conference is modeled on accessibility and equity, there is no registration fee, and when offered in-person, free breakfast and lunch is provided to all attendees.
As this conference is aimed at engaging undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of educational institutions, students from inside and out of state are welcome to register. Faculty/staff from other colleges and individuals from the broader community are also welcome to attend this conference.
Registration for the 2023 conference will open in December 2022 and close in February 2023. Register for the conference.
As a part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that the conference provides support for LGBTQ+ attendees, a number of practical resources are made available in coordination with our conference co-sponsors.
For instance, our inaugural conference included a free HIV testing clinic provided by the Knox County Health Department. Unity House and the Crozier Center for Women also provided free safer sex kits, and information about safer sex, PrEP and PEP was available courtesy of Gilead Sciences. Equitas Health and Trans Ohio also hosted a free gender and/or name change clinic, along with opportunities for free financial assistance to those who need it.
For the 2021 virtual conference, we hosted a free gender and/or name change clinic with Equitas Health and Trans Ohio. While we are unable to provide free HIV testing in a virtual conference setting, we hosted the Equitas Health Institute for a virtual HIV prevention panel. During this session, attendees learned about HIV prevention methods, U = U, and much more. For attendees who requested a mailed conference kit, free safer sex supplies and information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) were included. Attendees were also encouraged to use these materials to facilitate discussions about HIV prevention in their respective communities.
As with our inaugural conference, we also received a number of gift card donations for practical items, which were raffled during the conference. The purpose of this was to further ensure that useful items, such as binders, cosmetic products and more, were available to attendees via a free raffle. At our most recent conference, these items include donations from gc2b, We Are Fluide Cosmetics and Kenyon College.
In addition to eliminating economic barriers that might prohibit attendees from engaging with the Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference, we are also committed to ensuring that this space meets the needs of attendees with disabilities.
When offered in-person, all rooms and meeting spaces that are used for this conference meet accessibility requirements noted by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and we specifically avoid spaces that may be inaccessible to people with mobility-related needs. Additionally, all workshop sessions are equipped with microphones. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are also available upon advance request, and the keynote lecture for the conference is transcribed in real-time to assist attendees in need of closed captioning.
For the 2021 virtual conference, live closed captions were provided for all conference programs. Conference attendees were also able to share other accessibility-related needs with the organizing committee, via the registration form.
Whether in-person or virtual, we are also able to provide accessible and downloadable audio copies of the conference program, but due to copyright agreements, these are available by request.
If attendees are in need of any other accessibility related accommodations, they are invited to contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and/or the Office of Student Accessibility and Support Services at Kenyon College.
The 2021 keynote address was delivered by Travis Chi Wing Lau (he/him), and his address centered around the importance and impact of queer and trans studies in today's sociopolitical climate, while also making connections to his current scholarship and poetic work on disability's relationship to queerness.
Travis Chi Wing Lau completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently an assistant professor of English at Kenyon. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities and disability studies. Lau is currently working on a book manuscript entitled "Insecure Immunity: Inoculation and Anti-Vaccination, 1720-1898," which explores the British cultural history of immunity and vaccination and the rise of the security state in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Alongside his scholarship, Lau frequently writes for venues of public scholarship like Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities, Public Books, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, Wordgathering, Glass, South Carolina Review, Foglifter, and The New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, "The Bone Setter" (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and "Paring" (Finishing Line Press, 2020). [travisclau.com].
Our 2021 conference organizing committee consisted of the following representatives from Kenyon:
• Lena Alpern, Member of the Program Planning Sub-Committee and Co-Facilitator of Ace Space and Aro Place;
• Dorian Rhea Debussy (she/her), Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee and Associate Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion;
• Rory Dreyfus (he/him), Member of the Program Planning Sub-Committee and Co-Manager of Unity House;
• Alex Felleson, Member of the Proposal Review Committee and Co-Facilitator of oSTEM;
• Willow Green (they/them), Member of the Conference Organizing Committee and Co-Facilitator of Gender Group;
• Nyandeng Juag (she/her), Member of the Proposal Review Sub-Committee and Co-Facilitator of Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP);
• Jess Karan (she/they), Member of the Program Planning Sub-Committee and Co-Facilitator of QDubs;
• Lilia Leroy-Bell (she/they), Member of the Conference Organizing Committee and Co-Manager of the Crozier Center for Women;
• Morgan Paik (she/they), Member of the Conference Organizing Committee and Co-Facilitator of the Queer and Trans Literary Society;
• Ceci Rodriguez (they/them), Member of the Proposal Review Sub-Committee and Co-Manager of the Crozier Center for Women; and
• Micah Smith (they/he), Member of the Program Planning Sub-Committee and Co-Manager of Unity House.
To make this conference a reality, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Kenyon relies upon a number of on-campus and community co-sponsors, who either 1) assist with various aspects of this conference or 2) provide useful resources to it.
Our 2021 campus co-sponsors included the following departments, groups, and organizations from Kenyon College: Ace Space and Aro Place (ASAP), the Crozier Center for Women; Gender Group; the Kenyon College Bookstore; the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee; the Office of Student Accessibility and Support Services; oSTEM at Kenyon; QDubs; QTPOC at Kenyon; Queer Masculinities Society; Unity House; and the Women's and Gender Studies Program.
Our 2021 community co-sponsors, who provided services, support, and/or other contributions to this conference and its attendees, included the following: Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio, Equality Ohio, the Equitas Health Institute, Gender YOUphoria, GLSEN Central Ohio, #IAmNotAVirus, the Newark Ohio Pride Coalition, and Trans Ohio.
Our 2021 community co-sponsors, who provided contributions to the conference mailers and raffle, include the following: gc2b, Gilead Sciences, Global Protection Corp., ONE Condoms, and We Are Fluide Cosmetics.
Funding for this conference is provided in-part by the Kenyon College Community Development Fund and the Student LGBTQ+ Diversity Fund.
The inaugural Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference in April 2019 provided space for nearly 20 workshops. The conference hosted over 130 students from more than 15 different academic institutions from as far away as New England and the Deep South. Additionally, our inaugural conference attendees were a diverse group of students with over 40% identifying as transgender and/or non-binary, 33% identifying as people of color, and 10% identifying as people with disabilities. Read more about the 2019 conference from the Kenyon Collegian. Download the conference program from 2019.
The second biennial Kenyon Queer and Trans Studies Conference in April 2021 also provided space for nearly 20 workshops. The conference hosted over 250 students from nearly 50 different academic institutions in more than 30 states across the country; international attendees were also present at the conference. Additionally, our conference attendees were a diverse group of students with nearly 50% identifying as transgender and/or non-binary, roughly 33% identifying as people of color, and nearly 30% identifying as people with disabilities. Read more about the 2021 conference from The Buckeye Flame. Download the conference program from 2021.