25th Anniversary Of The ICTLEP Conference

Today is the 25th anniversary of the first of eventually six ICTLEP conferences that took place in Houston from 1992 to 1997.

The International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy (ICTLEP) was conceived by Phyllis Frye as an annual event that would focus on developing progressive legal strategies in employment and nondiscrimination law for the transgender population.

She had initially pitched the idea of the event to then International Foundation For Gender Education (IFGE) Executive Director Merissa Sherrill Lynn in the summer of 1991, as a traveling event under its auspices, but she told Frye that IFGE wasn’t interested in hosting it.

Frye in the fall of 1991 ran for and won the vice presidency of the Houston based Gulf Coast Transgender Community (GCTC)  group on the platform of hosting a transgender law conference in Houston in 1992.

Planning then began with a group of local activists and GCTC members forming a committee that laid the groundwork for the historic conference to happen combined with Phyllis’ attendance at the February 1992 Texas T Party and the March 1992 IFGE Convention.

Frye’s attendance at those large trans conferences was crucial in those pre-Internet days to the success of the ICTLEP conference she and GCTC were planning.  It helped spread the word about the fledgling conference, and helped get attorneys who were interested in the different areas of the law that needed presenters to volunteer to do so

The organization of it gathered steam to the point that when the inaugural event kicked off at the Hilton Southwest Freeway in Southwest Houston on August 26-30, 1992, it did so with over 50 people in attendance.

The conference was a success, especially on the financial end, and led to the hosting of five more ICTLEP conferences.

The ICTLEP conferences from 1992-1997 were crucial for not only laying the groundwork for much of the subsequent transgender rights law and principles that we fight and lobby for in the modern trans rights movement, they also helped train my generation of trans rights activists and attorneys..

The International Bill of Gender Rights, Health Law Standards of Care, and policies for imprisoned transgender people came out of ICTLEP.   The Proceedings published after every ICTLEP conference documented for posterity what happened in those presentations on the different areas of law being discussed.

ICTLEP also led to the organization of the national trans rights org It’s Time America, the second national trans lobby day in Washington DC in October 1994,  building working relationships between the legal and advocate wings of our newly emerging and energized modern trans rights movement, and more importantly led to the trans people who were in the legal profession becoming more out and open about who they were and forging working relationships with each other and the activist community.

It also led to trans folks becoming participating members in national gay legal organizations and conferences like Lavender Law.

And at a time in which the Trump misadministration is hell bent along with his fundamentalist anti-trans haters who advise him are getting orgasmic over the thought of eviscerating the human rights of transgender people in the US, the lessons learned and built upon over the last 25 years since the ICTLEP conferences took place here are going to be applied and tested as we fight 45’s unjust policies in the federal courts.

But it all started on this day at a Houston Hilton hotel in the summer of 1992 thanks to the vision of Phyllis Frye and those early trans leaders in GCTC and elsewhere to make it happen. .

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