New England’s premier event supporting transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender-fluid people has a new partner this year: Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).


Nearly 800 people are expected to attend First Event 2017’s workshops and discussions at the Royal Plaza in Marlborough Jan. 25-29. And while the conference, now in its 37th year, is one of the largest and longest running of its kind in the world, the partnership with Greater Boston PLFAG is an exciting new addition.


The conference’s Youth and Family Program is designed to provide support and education for parents, siblings, friends, and families, as well as transgender, gender non-conforming, or questioning youth. Incorporating presentations and panels coordinated by professionals and volunteers from First Event and Greater Boston PFLAG, the workshops aim to build community and connections among youth and families and provide information that may be difficult for attendees to find on their own.  


“We understand the importance of providing accessible programming that is welcoming to all parents, regardless of where they are in their journey of accepting their child,” said Greater Boston PFLAG Executive Director Val Frias. “We are able to create a very safe environment for the youth, but also for the parents to learn the terminology and have all of the support for them, and to make connections with other parents to make long-standing relationships.”


According to First Event 2017 Co-Chair Grace Stevens, there is an ever-growing need for programs to support transgender families, youth, and children.


“As a result of what we have observed over the past several years, we are thrilled to partner with Greater Boston PFLAG to create our Youth and Family Program,” she said.  


“We are already seeing an overwhelming interest in the program, and in the First Event conference overall. Each year our attendance has grown steadily, proving there’s a tremendous need for transgender people from all walks of life to find support, education, and friendship in the midst of their journey. It’s the parents that are changing the world. It’s the mothers and fathers of trans kids that are fighting the battles to save their kids.”


“Feeling part of a community and finding peers who understand part of your joys and struggles without judgment makes a difference,” said Emily McGranachan, east coast regional manager with the Family Equality Council , which will also be organizing programming at First Event. “Those moments of ‘Me, too’ or ‘Finally, someone who gets it’ can change someone’s life.” McGranachan said her life was changed when as a teen she met other individuals with LGBTQ parents.


“I think it is really about supporting the parent, so they feel strong enough to support their child and to listen to their child,” said Carol Caravana, whose son came out as transgender five years ago. “[Those outside the transgender community] don’t see what we went through and the troubles and the worries that we sometimes have.”