HBIGDA was officially incorporated in September 1979 and changed its name to WPATH in 2007. Meetings were held every two years from then until now with only two exceptions. No meeting was held in 1991 due to a nervousness about traveling in light of international politics that year. The 23rd meeting was held in the third, rather than second, year after the 22nd meeting in order to avoid hitting the monsoon season in Thailand which would have happened if the meeting had been held at its normal time of year. However, if you count forward from 1979 to the present time you will find that the first five meetings are unaccounted for in the numerical sequencing since the founding of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association in 1979. That’s because the first five took place under other auspices.
The first three were sponsored by the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF). The Erickson Educational Foundation was the creation of philanthropist and transman Reed Erickson. The Erickson Educational Foundation's stated goals were "to provide assistance and support in areas where human potential was limited by adverse physical, mental or social conditions, or where the scope of research was too new, controversial or imaginative to receive traditionally oriented support."
The EEF had three main foci of funding over the twenty years during which it was active. It supported the homophile organization ONE Inc. of Los Angeles, founded in 1952 and still operating today and various “new age movements.” However, the main interest of Erickson's EEF was transsexualism.
The EEF helped to support, both through direct financial contributions and through contributions of human and material resources, almost every aspect of work being done in the 1960s and 1970s in the field of transsexualism in the US and, to a lesser degree, in other countries. The EEF sponsored, or contributed to, innumerable public addresses, educational films, radio and television appearances, newspaper articles, a newsletter, educational pamphlets, an extensive referral list of service providers, and many early research efforts including Money & Green's (1969) Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment and Money & Ehrhardt's (1972) Man, Woman, Boy, Girl. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the EEF donated approximately US$250,000 to the support of projects about transsexualism. In particular, the Harry Benjamin Foundation received over US$60,000 (1964-1968) and the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic received approximately US$72,000 (1967-1973). The EEF also sponsored the first three symposia in the HBIGDA / WPATH series.
The 1st International Symposium on Gender Identity: Aims, Functions and Clinical Problems of a Gender Identity Unit, took place at the Piccadilly Hotel in London, July 25-27, 1969 and was co-sponsored by the EEF and the Albany Trust of London. It was chaired by Professor C.J. Dewhurst of Queen Charlotte's Hospital, London.
Read Prof. Dewhurst’s opening remarks here
The 2nd International Symposium on Gender Identity, sponsored by the EEF, was held at the Marienlyst Hotel in Elsinnore, Denmark, September 12-14, 1971. The first day, “Psychological, Hormonal and Surgical Management of Transsexualism,” was chaired by Anke Ehrhardt and Donald Laub. The Second day, “Sociological and Legal Aspects of Transsexualism,” was chaired by P. Fogh-Anderson and Marie Mehl. The third day, “Possible Etiological Factors in Transsexualism,” was chaired by C.J. Dewhurst and Richard Green.
The 3rd International Symposium on Gender Identity, sponsored by the EEF, was held at the Hotel Libertas in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, Sept 8-10, 1973. It featured talks by John Money, Vern Bullough, Thomas Kando, Harold Christianson, Ira Pauly, Anke Ehrhardt, Leo Wollman, Donald Laub, Thomas Mazur, and Zelda Suplee, among others. It was the last of the conferences convened by the EEF.
The fourth conference in this series was sponsored by the Division of Reconstructive and Rehabilitation Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California. It took place at the Faber Auditorium of the Children's Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, California February 28 to March 2, 1975. It was the first conference to use the name Harry Benjamin. It was called The Harry Benjamin 4th International Conference on Gender Identity in honour of Harry Benjamin's 90th birthday in the year 1975 but the Harry Benjamin Association had not yet been imagined.
In 1977, the 5th International Gender Dysphoria Symposium was held in Norfolk, Virginia, February 10-13. It was hosted by the Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Eastern Virginia Inter-Hospital Medical Education Committee.
An urgent last minute note appeared at the front of the program announcing the demise of the EEF:
Just prior to the meeting we have learned that the Erickson Educational Foundation, which we all consider a vital force in the area of transsexualism, will cease to exist. This impartial educational agency has been of inestimable value to the field. The conference planning committee will schedule a business meeting in lieu of one of the discussion periods to discuss the expected effect of this event on the field and to brainstorm about the implications of this to the ongoing communication which all of us have enjoyed through the tireless efforts of Zelda Suplee [Director of EEF].
It was at this meeting, called in direct response to the chasm left in the field of transsexualism by the withdrawal of the support of the EEF, that The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association and the Standards of Care were conceived. By the end of the 5th Symposium, the founding committee of HBIGDA had been chosen and Paul Walker was charged with drawing up articles of incorporation for the new organization.
The formation of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was formally approved at The 6th International Gender Dysphoria Symposium, held in San Diego, California in February, 1979. On September 14, 1979 HBIGDA was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Texas. The incorporators were Paul Walker, Walter Meyer, III, and Alice Webb. The original Directors of HBIGDA were the founding committee of Jack Berger, Richard Green, Donald Laub, Charles Reynolds Jr., Paul Walker, and Leo Wollman plus Jude Patton who was then the Co-Director of Renaissance, a transsexual service organization. HBIGDA was born.
Having ceased formal operations in 1977, the Erickson Educational Foundation revived for approximately one year, in 1983, the fourth year of HBIGDA’s existence. One of its projects was the creation of HBIGDA’s first newsletter which lasted one year, the duration of EEF's funding.
We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of those dedicated people who worked so hard to create the WPATH from which we all benefit today. Many of our founders are still working hard among us. Say thank you to them when you can. We wouldn’t be here doing what we are doing today without them.
-- © Aaron Devor, March 2013.
Devor, A. H. (1999). Reed Erickson and the Beginnings of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria. 16th meetings of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Assoc. London, UK.
Devor, A. H. (2005, July 27). Reed Erickson and The Erickson Educational Foundation . Retrieved from Reed Erickson and The Erickson Educational Foundation : http://web.uvic.ca/~erick123/
Devor, A. H., & Matte, N. (2004). ONE Inc. and Reed Erickson: The Uneasy Collaboration of Gay and Trans Activism, 1964-2003. GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, 179-209.
Matte, N., & Devor, A. H. (2007). Building a Better World for Transpeople: Reed Erickson and the Erickson Educational Foundation. International Journal of Transgenderism, 47-68.
|Number||Date||Location||Sponsor. Name of Meeting|
|I||1969||London, UK||EEF + Albany Trust. 1st Int'l Symposium on Gender Identity (Program)|
EEF. 2nd Int'l Symposium on Gender Identity (Program)
EEF. 3rd Int'l Symposium on Gender Identity (Program)
|IV||1975||Stanford, CA, USA||Stanford. Harry Benjamin 4th Int'l Conference on Gender Identity (Program)|
|V||1977||Norfolk, VA, USA||Eastern Virginia Med. School. 5th Int'l Gender Dysphoria Symposium (Program)|
|VI||1979||San Diego, CA, USA||6th Int'l Gender Dysphoria Symposium|
|VII||1981||Lake Tahoe, NV, USA||HBIGDA|
|VIII||1983||Bordeaux, France||HBIGDA (Program)|
|IX||1985||Minneapolis, MN, USA||HBIGDA|
|X||1987||Amsterdam, The Netherlands||HBIGDA|
|XI||1989||Cleveland, OH, USA||HBIGDA|
|XIII||1993||New York, NY, USA||HBIGDA|
|XIV||1995||Kloster Irsee, Germany||HBIGDA|
|XV||1997||Vancouver, BC, Canada||HBIGDA|
|XVII||2001||Galveston, TX, USA||HBIGDA|
|XVIII||2003||Ghent, Belgium||HBIGDA (Book of Abstracts)|
|XIX||2005||Bologna, Italy||HBIGDA (Program)|
|XX||2007||Chicago, IL, USA||WPATH (Program)(Book of Abstracts)|
|XXI||2009||Oslo, Norway||WPATH (Program)|
|XXII||2011||Atlanta, GA, USA||WPATH (Program)(Book of Abstracts)|
|XXIII||2014||Bangkok, Thailand||WPATH (Program)(Book of Abstracts)|
|XXIV||2016||Amsterdam, The Netherlands||WPATH|
|XXV||2018||Buenos Aires, Argentina||WPATH|