Esprit transgender conference starts today in Port Angeles (With Video)

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES –– Participants will begin arriving today for Esprit, an annual gathering of members of transgender organizations from Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C.

(A video by Esprit promoting this year's convention is below)

“I can't tell you how wonderful of a city Port Angeles is to do this,” said Suzanne Adams, president of the Esprit conference's organizing board and the Emerald City Social Club, a transgender organization in Seattle.

“It means a lot to all of us.”

Like they have every year since 1989, more than 100 transgender people will fill the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St., to be themselves for a week.

Some are men who simply enjoy dressing in women's clothes. Others, like Adams, have begun new lives as women.

“For a lot of people, this is the perfect place for them to get more comfortable with who they are,” said Adams, a former law enforcement officer who now serves as a consultant on transgender issues.

“It's a real special thing to have.”

A busy week

Those who have signed up for the conference get access to a week's worth of classes on topics ranging from self-defense and legal defense to relationship seminars and fashion training.

They also can head out together on a number of field trips all over the area.

For instance, on Tuesday, the Esprit corps travels to Victoria for high tea and a chance to put on their finest Kentucky Derby clothes and elaborate hats at a day at the races.

“I'm so excited for that. We're going to see some tremendous outfits up there,” Adams said. “So elegant.”

The conference runs through next Sunday, May 19, when participants can attend a farewell brunch before returning home.

Events scheduled

Activities will be based at the Red Lion Hotel.

The first event is a ice-breaker at 7 p.m. today. Classes, tours and other activities will continue through the week.

Conferees can participant in Girls' Night Out in downtown Port Angeles, which is planned with an “island” theme from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The Esprit Talent Show is open to the public after 8 p.m. Friday at the Elks Naval Lodge at 131 E. First St.

Between eight and 10 acts will perform, all according to the theme of the Oscars, complete with a red carpet.

A $5 cover charge will be donated to Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.

The Saturday night gala, also open to the public after 8 p.m. with a $5 cover charge — also donated to hospice — will have the theme of “Everybody is a Star!” in the Juan de Fuca ballroom at the hotel.

The Nasty Habits, a five-piece transgender band, will perform at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights at Bar N9ne, 229 W. First St.

The performances, which are listed on the Esprit calendar as non-Esprit events, will go on until 1 a.m. and are open to the public. The cover will be $5.

For more information, visit


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Esprit 2013 video. Click to play:

Last modified: May 12. 2013 2:32AM
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