Stephen Burt

First Event 2013, a convention for transgender and gender-variant people, took up ten rooms and three hallways on three floors of the Peabody Marriott hotel, a low-rise in an industrial estate half an hour from Boston. I was there for a day, but the convention stretched over four, with a revue, a fashion show, a pop-up consignment store inside the hotel (‘Tiffany’s Closet: ReBorn to be ReWorn’) and a real wedding on the Saturday. There were workshops led by trans people with stories to tell, advice to give or services to tout, along with trans-friendly psychologists, surgeons, clerics and teachers. At the merchandise fair exhibitors included a voluble, magenta-haired DIY manga artist, a costume jewellery maker and an organiser for the state’s LGBT Democrats. Amanda Simpson, the US government’s first out transgender appointee, gave the keynote address: a former test pilot, Simpson is now Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, Acquisition and Technology.

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