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 will be held in a virtual setting, but the conference will remain free-of-charge and open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as community members. The 2021 conference will occur virtually from Friday, April 9, to Sunday, April 11.

Download the 2021 conference program

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

5. community-interest.

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 2021 conference are accepted until Friday, February 5. 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.

To accommodate the maximum capacity of our Zoom platform, registration for the conference is limited to the first 750 attendees. Pending interest and the availability of additional funding, this maximum capacity may be increased, and any updates will be shared here.

Registration for the 2021 conference will open on Friday, February 19 and close on Thursday, March 25. 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 will host a free gender and/or name change clinic with Equitas Health and Trans Ohio. For conference attendees who are in need of this resource, complete this intake form at least 48 hours before the conference begins. If you need additional assistance with the intake form, contact legalclinics@equitashealth.com.

While we are unable to provide free HIV testing in a virtual conference setting, we will be hosting the Equitas Health Institute for a virtual HIV prevention panel. During this session, attendees will learn about HIV prevention methods, U = U, and much more. For attendees who request a mailed conference kit, free safer sex supplies and information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be included. Attendees are encouraged to use these materials to facilitate discussions about HIV prevention in your respective communities.

As with our inaugural conference, we have received a number of gift card donations for practical items, which will be raffled during the conference. The purpose of this is to further ensure that useful items, such as binders, cosmetic products and more, are available to attendees via a free raffle. This year’s 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 interpreters are also available upon advance request, and the keynote lecture for the conference is transcribed in real-time to assist attendees who may have hearing impairments. 

For the 2021 virtual conference, live closed captions will be provided for all conference programs to assist attendees who may have hearing impairments. Conference attendees are also able to share other accessibility related needs with the organizing committee, via the registration form.

Whether in-person or virtual, the conference is able to provide accessible and downloadable audio copies of the conference program, but due to copyright agreements, these are available by request.

If you are in need of any other accessibility related accommodations, please feel free to contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and/or the Office of Student Accessibility and Support Services at Kenyon College.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Travis Chi Wing Lau (he/him), and his address will center 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 conference organizing committee consists of the following representatives from Kenyon:

• Lena Alpern, Member of the Program Planning Sub-Committee and Co-Facilitator of Ace Space and Aro Place;

• Dr. Timothy R. Bussey (they/them), 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 campus co-sponsors include 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 community co-sponsors, who are providing services, support, and/or other contributions to this conference and its attendees, include 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, Trans Ohio. 

Our community co-sponsors, who are providing contributions to the conference mailers and raffle, include the following: gc2b, Gilead, 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 conference from the Kenyon Collegian. Download the conference program from 2019.