History of Gender Identity and Gender Expression in Central PA
The 1990s: Starting a Movement
Creative Design Services was the publishing house that produced the newsletters for the Renaissance and its branches. JoAnn Roberts, a founder of Renaissance, owned and ran Creative Design Services. Roberts not only ensured the publication and distribution of Renaissance’s publications, which helped build the organization and a community, but also conducted various programs through Creative Design Services in Central PA. One, “Crossing the Lines of Gender” was a series of workshops held in Wayne, PA in 1994. The workshops focused on cross dressing, hormonal options, and cosmetic surgery. Roberts, the company, and Renaissance were building up a movement in the 1990s to educate, provide resources, and advocate for those with varying gender identities and ways of gender expression.
In 1996 the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy issued the Bill of Gender Rights with a Renaissance founding member as one of its authors, JoAnn Roberts. The Bill of Gender Rights became one of the foundational texts for the modern transgender rights movement. It outlines many of the aims of the movement and those who identify with or support the transgender community.
Central PA individuals and organizations stayed connected with and supported the community and movement for gender identity and expression protections and rights not only regionally, but nationally. Renaissance Education Association in the 1990s worked closely with the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), which eventually became a national organization after being founded in Boston in 1986. In 1993 Renaissance was the hosting organization for IFGE’s 7th annual “Coming Together Working Together” conference. The “Coming Together” conference was the leading convention in 1990s America that brought people together from across the nation to learn about and work on topics and issues such as cross dressing, advocacy, community building, and transsexualism.
The 1990s saw local, regional, state, and national community and platform building that would produce results and a push for protections for those with nonnormative gender identities and expression.