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HomePlenary Sessions 2023

#SSSS2023 Plenary Speakers

Thursday, November 16 at 5:00-7:00 PM (CST)

Dr. Carlos Rodríguez-Díaz will lead a plenary session, titled, The War on Drag: Policing Sexual Expressions and Opportunities to Disrupt with the participation of Mrs. Gia GiaVanni and Mrs. Aubrey Synclaire.

Carlos Rodríguez-Díaz PhD, MPH, MCHES

Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health Services
Boston University School of Public Health

Dr. Carlos Rodríguez-Díaz is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health Services at the Boston University School of Public Health. He is also the President of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz is a community health scientist with over fifteen years of experience practicing public health and conducting action research in Puerto Rico, the United States of America, and the Caribbean Region. His work has focused on sexual health, LGBT health, infectious diseases, particularly HIV care and prevention, and health equity through actions on the social determinants of health. Dr. Rodriguez-Diaz is currently studying health and racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has led several programs and research projects addressing health inequities among populations made socially vulnerable including people with HIV, Hispanic/Latinxs, incarcerated populations, and sexual and gender minority groups.

Mrs. Gia GiaVanni

Wayne Walker is the Creator of the Drag Artist Gia 
GiaVanni a well-known entertainer in the southern region of the U.S. He performs in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, bringing his talents across the southern region of the United States. Gia is a local, city, state, and national pageant winner and performs regularly at the Country Drag Brunch in the by-water area of New Orleans. Gia runs her own show at the Golden Lantern with her co-host every Sunday at 5pm with a special guest entertainer weekly. Gia’s many accolades include: GAA Entertainer of the Year (3 times), GAA Drag Show of the Year for her PlayGirlz Show, GAA Cheridon Comedy Queen Award, Miss National Apollo; Miss Gay Mississippi America, Miss Gay Baton Rouge America, Miss Aids Awareness (twice), Miss Capital City Pride (Baton Rouge), Miss Nola Pride (New Orleans), Miss Apollo De New Orleans, Miss Caliente, Miss Swamp Pu$$y, and MANY MORE........  

Before devoting his time with his preparations of weekly shows, Gia is mixing music, sewing costumes, and spending as much time as possible with his Husband Lance of 12 years. Gia is honored and humbled to be able to add some insight from his 29 years of entertaining on stage as a Drag Artist. He hopes his experiences and knowledge will be able to provide a clear and precise understanding of the relationship with drag and the studies of sexuality.


Mrs. Aubrey Synclaire

Aubrey Synclaire, 36, is originally born and raised in Hammond, LA. After finishing her undergraduate work at Southeastern Louisiana University and graduate degree at University of New Orleans, she currently works full time by day in healthcare research management and by evening as a full time entertainer. A resident of New Orleans for several years now, Synclaire has been in the artform of female impersonation for approximately 15 years. One can find her performing regularly at the Bourbon Pub and Parade where she is the Entertainment Director, as well as throughout her home state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Throughout her illustrious career, Synclaire has held the titles of Miss Gay Central Louisiana America 2011, Miss Gay River Cities America 2012, Miss Gay Splash America 2013, Southern Decadence Grand Marshal for Southern Decadence XLIII in the year of 2014, Miss Louisiana Continental 2015, and King Cake Queen XXII of Gay Mardi Gras in both 2015 and 2016, Miss Gay Fleur-De-Lis USofA 2017, Miss Louisiana Leatherette 2020, Miss Gay Mississippi America 2021, and Miss Gay Southern Elegance America 2022. She has also appeared on Vanderpump Rules on BravoTV, the nationally syndicated Drew Barrymore Show, and the Liberation Tour performing on stage with Christina Aguilera. Capturing the title in August of this year, Aubrey is currently the reigning Miss Gay Louisiana America 2023, the state “Symbol of Excellence”.

Friday, November 17 at 5:00-6:00 PM (CST)

The Praxis of Engaging Interdisciplinary Sexualities Research for Black Same Gender Practicing Men’s Communities
1.0 CE credit hours

2023 Social Justice / Public Policy Award Recipient
Leo Wilton, PhD

Professor, Department of Human Development
College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA)
State University of New York at Binghamton

Leo Wilton is a Professor in the Department of Human Development at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His primary research interests include health disparities and inequities (HIV prevention and care); Black psychological development and mental health; critical community-based research; and mixed-/multi-methods research. His research on the HIV epidemic focuses on the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality, as situated in macro- and micro-level inequities in Black communities. His research engages the complexities of how socio-structural and –cultural contexts influence people's development and well-being within African and African Diaspora communities, with specific implications for addressing social justice and human rights. In this context, the overall 
objective of his scholarly research program, incorporating an implementation science framework, has been to examine socio-structural and -cultural factors that provide the basis for developing culturally congruent HIV prevention and care interventions in communities of color. He has served as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator on several National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research studies. His research, policy, advocacy, and social justice contributions have provided a formidable multi-tiered impact on interdisciplinary fields on (inter)national levels. These contributions are situated in the importance of cultivating an innovative holistic understanding of the life-contexts of historically underserved communities and a commitment to exploring issues of transformative social justice.

Friday, November 17 at 9:00-10:15 AM (CST)

The Rise of Rough Sex: What We’ve Learned and What Sexuality Researchers, Educators, and Clinicians Need to Know 
1.0 CE credit hours

2023 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award Recipient
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, CSE

Provost Professor, Department of Applied Health Science
Director, Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Indiana University School of Public Health

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a Provost Professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health, the Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, and an AASECT-certified sexuality educator. For more than 20 years, Dr. Herbenick’s research has focused on women’s sexual health, U.S. population-representative research, vulvar and vaginal health, as well as the use of sexual stimulation devices– all studied through a feminist science lens. She has developed novel lines of scientific inquiry including genital self-image and its relationship to health, exercise induced orgasm, as well as evolving shifts in sexual behavior and the health consequences of rough sex behaviors. The Female Genital Self-Image Scale has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is widely used in research and clinical work. Dr. Herbenick’s research has received more than $7.6 million in support from individual philanthropists, private foundations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Patty Brisben Foundation, and The Case for Her) as well as federal support, including from NIH/NICHD. From 2016-2018, Dr. Herbenick served as the president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). 

In 2023, she was elected by her peers to serve as president-elect of the International Academy of Sex Research. Dr. Herbenick has published or has in-press more than 200 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and serves as PI on the award-winning National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, which is a collaborative project of researchers at the IU School of Public Health and IU School of Medicine. Her research has been cited more than 10,000 times and she has published six general audience books about sexuality. Her latest book is “Yes Your Kid: What Parents Need to Know About Today’s Teens and Sex.” 

Dr. Herbenick’s research, books, and expertise have been featured in popular media including The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Vogue, the Tyra Banks Show, the Tamron Hall Show, Discovery Health’s Curiosity, the Emmy-nominated documentary Hot Girls Wanted, Peggy Orenstein’s New York Times bestselling book Girls & Sex, and thousands of media articles and television shows.

Saturday, November 18 at 9:00-10:00 AM (CST)
We Don't Belong Here”: An Exploration Of Identity Through Artifact-Elicited Interviews With Black Queer Women And The Impact Of Re-Experienced Trauma On Researchers

Elizabeth Bartelt, PhD, MPH

Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health Services
Boston University School of Public Health

Dr. Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bartelt (she/her) is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the State University of New York: University at Buffalo. Her work has focused on sexual and gender minoritized people and reproductive health, particularly at the intersection of LGBTQ+ populations experiences with abortion. She received the highly competitive Society for Family Planning Emerging Fellows research grant during her doctoral education. Dr. Bartelt began her career through serving as an Americorps*VISTA member and in the field of sexual health through teaching sexuality education while working at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. She gave a TEDx talk on Pregnancy is not just a woman's issue, created and co-hosted a podcast on qualitative research titled Coloring Outside the Memos, and facilitated many diversity, equity, inclusion trainings. She teaches undergraduate public health and works to inspire the next generation of sexual health educators, researchers, and clinicians. She is a Diversity, Equity, Justice, Inclusion Pedagogy Fellow at University at Buffalo in 2023-2024. 

Deana Williams, PhD, MPH

Research Investigator at
MultiCare Institute for Research and Innovation

Dr. Deana Williams is a qualitative Research Investigator at MultiCare Institute for Research and Innovation (MIRI) in Tacoma, Washington. Dr. Williams uses intersectionality and community engagement as core frameworks to advance health equity for LGBTQ+ populations, with an emphasis on the wellbeing of diverse bisexual groups and queer and gender expansive Communities of Color. Her current research focuses on perinatal and reproductive health, cancer care disparities, reproductive justice, anti-racism in medicine, and improving access to and the delivery of gender-affirming healthcare. Recently, she was awarded a two-year NIH Diversity Supplement by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to investigate bisexual Women of Color’s perinatal healthcare experiences. Further, she is the principal investigator/co-principal investigator of two studies funded by the Andy Hill Care Fund, where she aims to increase the engagement of Communities of Color in cancer clinical trials and increase cervical cancer screenings among queer women. Dr. Williams is also the lead qualitative researcher on a mixed-methods study funded by PCORI and the Marco J. Heidner Charitable Trust that generated gender health research directives informed by transgender and non-binary youth, parents, and gender-affirming healthcare professionals.

Outside of her work with MIRI, she is a board member of the HIV League, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing academic scholarships to students living with HIV. She holds a Master of Public Health and a doctorate in Health Behavior from Indiana University. Dr. Williams is committed to using her research to drive transformational change and advance health justice, queer liberation, and anti-racism within the public health and medical field.

Tiffany Quash, PhD

Qualitative / Survey Research Methodologist
American University

Dr. Tiffany Monique Quash is the Qualitative/Survey Research Methodologist for American University in Washington, D.C. in the Center for Teaching, Research, & Learning. She describes her mission in life as: “Learning to Swim is a Human Right.” Her research focuses on the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and one’s historical relationship with swimming and higher education. As a former collegiate swimmer and current USA Swim Coach, Dr. Quash works to improve the perceptions of one’s Black body in an aquatic space by listening to the stories of other Black swimmers. In 2020, Dr. Quash delivered a TEDx talk that examined the roots of our swimming history. By addressing the public health preventable pandemic of drowning, she addressed water safety education, and the importance of collaborating with the International Water Safety Foundation. Dr. Quash’s most recent research challenges the current Leisure Constraint Theory with the development of a new theoretical framework inclusive of the experiences of Black Womxn Collegiate Swimmers and the experience of Black Women Swimmers from Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and primary white institutions. 

Sunday, November 19 at 9:00-10:00 AM (CST)

Controversies in Standards of Care for Transgender Youth - The Growing Evidence and Remaining Questions in Pediatric Gender Affirming Care

1.0 CE credit hours
Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH

Chief, Division of Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine

Robert Garofalo MD, MPH is a Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. He is the Chief of the Division Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's Hospital and the founding director of its Gender Development Program. Dr. Garofalo has >25 years of clinical and research experience in HIV, HIV prevention and sexual and gender minority health. In 2010, he was appointed to the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine on LGBT Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities. Dr. Garofalo’s research has been generously funded by the National Institutes of Health being the Principal Investigator on 20 research grants and a Co-Investigator on >30 other NIH-funded research projects. He is a member of several professional organizations including the 
American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Dr. Garofalo is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Transgender Health. He has >200 publications in scholarly journals. In addition to academic work, Dr. Garofalo co-authored the book When Dogs Heal which was published in 2021. He founded Fred Says (named after his dog), a non-profit charity that has donated back to the community over $1 million to support care and services for transgender youth and young people infected with and impacted by HIV.


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