The city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida has long encouraged gay and lesbian travelers from around the world to explore their sunny side on the rainbow-ready shores of southern Florida. So it should come as no surprise that the sandy safe haven has become one of the nation’s first cities to expressly reach out to transgender travelers.
Greater For Lauderdale has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights by proactively welcoming the queer market since 1996. Since then, the destination has continued to break down barriers and facilitate essential visibility for the LGBTQ community at large.
So, it is only appropriate that they would host the 26th Annual Southern Comfort Conference.
The conference, one of the largest transgender conferences in North America, returned after a successful conference in 2015. Held at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, the conference welcomed transgender individuals, partners, spouses, and families with Greater Fort Lauderdale’s signature hospitality, providing unforgettable experiences like an airboat ride through the Everglades, golfing on the Bonaventure’s legendary greens, and dinner and a show at LIPS in Fort Lauderdale.
“We were honored to host the incredible individuals of the Southern Comfort Conference,” said Richard Gray, LGBTQ managing director for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The transgender community has faced many challenges over the past year, and we are proud to continue our efforts to represent transgender individuals in our marketing campaigns, encourage acceptance in our neighborhoods, and offer support from our destination to address the long-ignored needs of transgender individuals. Together we are creating an inclusive model for the world to follow.”
This year’s conference featured keynote speakers Dr. Marci Bowers, an innovator in sex reassignment surgery; Kellie Maloney, former boxing manager; Celebrity Big Brother contestant and transgender activist and Schuylar Bailor, writer, activist, and the first openly transgender man to compete in NCAA Division I swimming. The stunning Isabella Santiago from Venezuela also made a repeat appearance this year; Santiago won the world’s largest beauty pageant for transgender individuals in 2014 and has since provided inspiration for other transgender women worldwide.
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Be sure to check out the video of the 2016 conference below. For more information on Southern Comfort, please visit www.southerncomfortconference.org and for more information on Greater Fort Lauderdale, visit www.sunny.org/tlgbq.