Prizm News / April 30, 2019 / By Jacqueline Cook

Attendees at the 2019 TransOhio Symposium (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Cook)

Reflections from an attendee’s experience at the TransOhio Symposium

By Jacqueline Cook

The TransOhio Transgender and Ally Symposium began as a single day event in 2008, attended by approximately 80 people. It has since grown to be a three-day conference with over 250 participants and 75+ workshops. Prizm asked one attendee to share her thoughts on the 2019 Symposium.  



This year’s TransOhio Symposium, held April 26th through 28th at the Ohio State University’s Ohio Union, felt the same way it has the past three years I’ve attended: like a constantly growing family reunion. The TransOhio Symposium is an annual conference centered on issues affecting transgender people and our allies. The Symposium was broken into two parts: the first day targeted providers who work with transgender people, and the remaining two days were positioned for the trans community, with attendees from first-graders to 80-year-olds. There were plenty of sessions; in fact, there were multiple times in the schedule where there were two or three that I would have loved to attend if I had doppelgangers to do my bidding.

This year’s theme of ‘Voices and Visibility’ was exemplified in keynotes and workshops. Joy Michael Ellison educated us about the forgotten history of the trans rights movement; presenters from BQIC (Black Queer and Intersectional Columbus) traced the development of the police force in the U.S. as an institution that has always oppressed Black people and queer/trans people; and a youth panel spoke about navigating the public school system while trans. There were workshops about sex, nonbinary identities, the asexual/aromantic spectrum, and other issues and identities that aren’t always made visible.

BQIC leads a workshop titled “Origins of the US Police State & it’s Legacy of Oppressing Black Queer and Trans People” (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Cook)

Beyond the sessions, my favorite part of the TransOhio conference is the personal connections that I make with others in the community: having an exciting conversation about plants and animals with a transgender youngster, meeting people visiting from other countries, and getting to know local attendees who are there for the first time. Connecting with other members of the diverse, beautiful trans community is what brings me back to the Symposium every year.

To learn more about the TransOhio Trans & Ally Symposium, visit

Jacqueline Cook is an IT professional, math teacher, and Star Wars fangirl. She lives in North Canton, Ohio, with her pit bull, Periwinkle.