September 12, 2020 (updated September 12, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
In this episode host, Dennis Velco chats with Fabrice Houdart about LGBTQ equality and corporate responsibility. Fabrice has had a fascinating career championing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer rights and equality. Currently, he is the Managing Director, Global Equality Initiatives at Out Leadership.
Fabrice Houdart was previously Human Rights Officer at the United Nations in New York, and for the past four years, he worked on Free & Equal, an unprecedented United Nations campaign for LGBTI equality. He co-authored and led the United Nations Global LGBTI standards of conduct for Business, the largest corporate social responsibility initiative on LGBTI issues in the World. To date, more than 270 of the largest companies in the world have expressed support for the initiative. From 2001 – 2016, Fabrice was Senior Country Officer at the World Bank. At the Bank, he authored economic development analyses on Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Tunisia and provided contributions to the 2012 Gender World Development Report (WDR) and the 2011 Conflict, Security, and Development WDR. He holds a B.A. in economics and management from Dauphine University in Paris and an MBA from American University in DC. Fabrice volunteers on the Board of Outright Action International, Housing Works, the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus, Alturi, the KindRED Pride Foundation, Witness to Mass Incarceration, and the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA). In 2019, he received the Golden Gate Business Association Award, the IGLTA Pioneer Award, and the Alan Turing LGTBIQ Award for his work on LGBTI rights. He was ranked 2nd by Yahoo Finance among LGBTI public sector executives globally in their 2019 Outstanding list. He was interviewed by The Economist, quoted in the New York Times, Foreign Policy Magazine, and The Guardian on issues pertaining to the human rights of LGBTIQ people. He lives in New York City with twin sons 6-year old Maxime and Eitan.
39:45 Must be careful to not allow LGBTQ equality to mask other social responsibility issues
42:00 As LGBTQ is our responsibility to leverage our strength to affect positive change supporting everyone and our environment.
Join Martin on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, a.lies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
Every single day that you are fortunate enough to wake up, you are faced immediately with a question: how are you going to face the day? You have to make a choice. Here are 4 steps that will ground you every morning so that your day is strong, confident, and productive.
Step 1. Be the reason
Accept that there will be decisions during the day that need to be made. Accept that there will be disappointments and setbacks. From long red lights to major health setbacks – life is full of them. But life is also full of victories, both small and large. Embrace the mindset that tells you that each day is loaded with good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly, and the positive and negative.
Step 2. Heart Connection
Make sure that your heart and your mind are connected and on the same page. You have the ability to succeed but if your mind isn’t on the same page as your heart, you are already in conflict. When your mind and heart are in tune you set yourself up for success. Take a quick moment and breathe, listen to your heart, and pay attention to the rhythm in your head and then connect the two as one.
Step 3. Accountability
Don’t do it alone. During the day as you face both challenges and successes, you must have someone who is willing to stop running, turn around, reach down and pick you up.
Step 4. Finally
Stop whining. Don’t start your day with negative statements. The moment you rise start telling yourself positive statements, looking forward through the day at things that will be good from a simple great cup of coffee, to the refreshing ice water in your cup, to spending time with loved ones at the close of the day. Gather those positive thoughts and use them to fuel you through the rough spots. Don’t focus on what might be – focus on what you know WILL be and if negative things happen, you are prepared for them. They won’t catch you off guard and more importantly, you’ll set yourself up to face them head-on and win.
So say to the day – bring me your best or bring me your worst – I’m ready. Bring it.
August 16, 2020 (updated August 18, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
Bruce was a persistent voice in United Nations committee meetings always raising his hand asking, “what about LGBTQ people in this”. Prior to him, there had been occasional mention of lesbian rights with women-focused summits, but never the full LGBTQ spectrum. Bruce worked tirelessly to lobby other delegates to gain vocal support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transcend, and queer (LGBT) rights. The momentum began. Bruce was granted a United Nations workshop on LGBTQ rights. He discovered Norway was considering putting a resolution forward. His workshop turns from the intent of education to gain support to being an active working group. As we discussed in the first video/podcast, the Unitarian Universalists have a long tradition of being an inclusive and welcoming congregation faith for all. They respect and value all world faiths and celebrate all in their interesting and often engaging services. Bruce Knotts a former US State Department representative, became the Directors of the Unitarian Universalist office at the United Nations in 2008. With full support and backing of the President and board of the Unitarian Universalist Association (https://www.uua.org) he took the role with his clear personal and organizational missions to drive hard for LGBTQ rights and equality at the UN.
01:00 What does the UUA office at the United Nations do?
02:00 UUA President approves strong advocacy for LGTQ rights with work at United Nations
02:45 As of 2008 the only United Nations level discussion happened in March at a Women’s conference then only discussing lesbian rights. Very little to no other discussions throughout the year on LGBTQ rights.
03:00 Persistance and lobbying lead to first-ever LGBTQ workshop in the 60-year history of these international conferences
08:10 Now the United Nations has policies and programs in all 108 agencies that benefit LGBTQ people around the world including their employees, like domestic partner benefits, which they didn’t have before.
10:00 Right-wing jumped in around 2012 , holding ground. Your votes at all levels count.
Bruce stated that between 2008 – 2012 the pro-LGBTQ coalition was making great strides. Then the evangelical right-wing groups who typically loath the United Nations started to show up to oppose any proposed action regarding advancing rights and equality for LGBTQ citizens around the world. He clarified that as of now no ground made has been lost, yet no significant advancements have been won since. We discussed the importance of never resting on the issues of LGBTQ rights and equality. For example, when the United States Marriage Equality was passed, many organizations simply shut down believing their work was done. That was a mistake. They could have leveraged all the infrastructure to push for the same in other countries and broadened to include a wider set of issues faced by LGBTQ people. We further discussed the importance of voting in every election at all levels. The issues can affect you and others in the district/community. Your vote matters. Your involvement matters. Get involved on https://www.OutBuro.com where you belong. Join or start a group. Organize, support, grow and thrive together.
August 10, 2020 (updated August 10, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
In this chat with Bruce Knotts, we discuss what is Unitarian Universalist and each of our own paths to it as a welcoming faith that is welcoming and inclusive of #LGBTQ members. I would take that a step further, the Unitarian Universalist are champions of #LGBT people, not only with the congregations but for the dignity, rights, and equality of #gay, #lesbian, #bisexual, #transgender, #queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and heteroflexible people around the world. UUs are very social-justice-oriented such as the long-running #LoveIsLove campaign.
The UU faith is really not an individual faith but rather a celebration, exploration, respect, and openness to all world faiths and nonfaiths. What does that mean? No single world faith dominates. Each service may focus on teaching from any of the world’s faiths and often will explore a topic reflecting its views from many faiths in one service. There is ZERO religious dogma acknowledging the divine in all, there is no one right answer, each person is welcome to their own personal journey and truth. Services may include poetry readings, Pop music, and more. So in Unitarian Universalism, you can be your full authentic self while also practicing your spirituality on your own path. You are welcome.
Unitarian Universalism includes learning about and welcoming all world faiths and nonfaiths including but not limited to:
All are welcome and it is a great spiritual home for families where partners may have different spiritual focuses such as one Buddhist and the other Agnostic or Christian. It can be a wonderful spiritual home for those that would like to connect or reconnect with their spiritual center in a welcoming open community free from judgment or dogma. In the next video/podcast we’ll continue this discussion and learn how under Bruce Knotts’ leadership through the UUA office at the United Nations he has been instrumental at the UN level for LGBTQ equality and rights around the globe.
July 13, 2020 (updated July 13, 2020) Published by Dennis Velco
When it’s time to update your resume/CV preparing for a job search, it can be tough to know if you should be out as LGBTQ on it. We don’t believe you will find anyone who would suggest putting “I’m queer – get used to it” in bold pink letter sprinkled with glitter on the top of your resume/CV.
So, should you come out on your resume?
No one can answer that question for you. It is your life, your career, your sexuality, your gender identity, and therefore your choice rests squarely on your shoulders. However, read on for insights to help you make an informed decision.
Many in the LGBTQ community disagree about what you should reveal on your resume/CV. Some say to be out being your full and authentic self, while others argue that you should remain in the closet, grit your teeth to land the job and then slowly come out to co-workers as you get to know them individually.
Many people have acquired significant volunteer and work experience from obviously LGTBQ-oriented organizations. Other people struggle with how transparent they should be on their resume or job application when asked about other interests. Knowing what to say, and how much to disclose to a complete stranger with the power to provide or decline a job offer can be cause for worry. It can often feel like living in the closet and being judged for who you are as a person.
How much experience is related?
Not much but it’s close to my heart
You are such a wonderful person for volunteering. If your past experience related to LGBTQ non-profits/NGOs is not really central to the job you are applying for, we’d recommend completely leaving it off your resume/CV. It’s not hiding your sexuality or gender identity, it is just not pertinent. This even includes leaving it out of your resume/CV hobbies/extra activities. If you get a sense during the interview process that the employer and interviewers are LGBTQ friendly you can always bring it up in the course of dialog as appropriate.
Just a bit but it’s important
If some of your experience was acquired from paid or volunteering for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer non-profits/NGOs no matter if you are LGBTQ a straight ally you might start to wonder if you should put that experience on your resume. This effectively would out you as LGBTQ whether you are LGBTQ or a community ally. Additionally, as you’ll learn below even just the perception of being LGBTQ real or perceived can potentially impact your ability to be hired, promoted and even the salary offered.
Major part of my career
If all your experience is from paid or volunteering at LGBTQ organizations, then it’s pretty clear you have no choice. You have to list the experiences. But you still need to be aware of the issues you may face and be prepared to research employers to find the right match and put your best foot forward with the best employers no matter the size or location of the employer.
If you have worked primarily for LGBTQ or other non-profits/NGOs it can also be difficult to break into the for-profit sector. I have heard of people attempting to do make this transition and being told, “Your qualifications are outstanding, however, you aren’t a right fit for this company we are about making money not helping people/the environment/animals.” – true story. So if your work experience has been 50%+ with a non-profit organization no matter the focus LGBTQ or not, be prepared to address this disqualifying mindset proactively in your cover letter and in the every interview conversation if you get that far.
LGBTQ workplace policies are good yet not a 100% guarantee
Reality is even if an employer boasts being a welcoming LGBTQ workplace with LGBT friendly policies and benefits, there are many people involved in the resume/cv review and interview process. Depending on the size of the employer, that may be a few people or in best case scenario it will be a review committee to reduce the chances of one person’s learned prejudices and ignorance to discriminate and disqualify you based on you being LGBT. In any case, it still can be risky. You want to list all your great experience and qualifications to land that new job yet you are also putting trust in the employer company/organization and the individuals in the hiring process.
At what point should I come “out” in the workplace?
It is important to know that you do NOT have to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity at any point in the resume/cv submission, job application or interview process. This decision is entirely up to you and how comfortable you feel disclosing your sexual orientation, sex, or gender expression. If you do choose to disclose, there are generally three opportunities to “come out” to an employer?
On your resume
In an interview
After you start working for the organization
Many believe that no job is so great that it’s worth hiding who you are and selling yourself short by leaving out all the organizations you volunteered time with, just-just to hide your sexual identity. That volunteer work could have provided many skills and demonstrate your community involvement beyond the workplace showing a well-rounded individual with character.
Some feel that it is more important to get the job first, and then come out after people get to know you. “I’m here. I’m queer. I’m in the next cubicle” approach.
Others strive for a middle ground in where they list their LGBT activities on their resumes but don’t draw attention to it. They might list PFLG, HRC or NGLCC without going into additional details or spelling out the acronym. They might list the abbreviation of a student campus LGBT group and that they were the vice president such as Berkely LGSA Vice President instead of Berkely Lesbian & Gay Student Alliance Vice President. If asked about the entry it’s an opportunity for discussion to expand upon it in person versus potentially being tossed way by someone along the candidate review path who might hold prejudices. such as “vice president of gay campus group.” The rest, says Woog, is left to the interviewer. If she says, “The Rainbow Alliance –- tell me more about that,” it’s an opportunity to expand on it and judge her reaction.
Still, others hold firm that it is inappropriate to come out on one’s resume as it is to mark down one’s religious or political affiliations. We suggest talking with your both LGBT and straight close friends and family who also have a history of volunteer and community work.
As LGBTQ professionals we cannot live in a vacuum and our straight college have no problem listing their volunteer and community activities that might hint at their heterosexuality. It’s accepted.
At OutBüro we believe a resume should be honest and comprehensive. If a person has done work with GLAAD or Lambda Legal for example – and the reader even knows what these things are – certain presumptions can be made or not. We know many straight people who work at LGBTQ organizations too. Putting your volunteer work in the LGBTQ community on your resume is no different than others who may indicate they are a deacon in the church or a Hebrew school teacher on the weekends.
Why should you hide what you value and has contributed to your life, character, your local community and the community at large? It’s unfortunate that all companies do not have sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination policies. Luckily many companies and organizations do
Questions to ask
Is the company you are interested in an LGBTQ workplace friendly employer?
Do you feel comfortable disclosing that you are currently or have in your past held a paid positions or volunteered for an LGBT community organization?
Do you include previous work experiences (internships, etc.) that occurred at an LGBT advocacy organization(s)?
Is that current or past experience relevant to the job you are applying for?
How do you list your achievements from an LGBT organization on your resume?
Do you list it as for example an LGBT youth organization or simply a youth organization and if asked which one in the interview process disclose it if you feel comfortable doing so at that time?
Questions you can ask an employer in an interview if their employer website does not specifically state it:
Would you say that your company has a diverse employee base?
Do you offer domestic partner benefits and or other LGBT related benefits and policies? (if not clearly stated on their website)
Does your company/organization have an LGBTQ employee resource support or social group?
Additional considerations for transgender job seekers
Is it OK to use my chosen name on a resume and cover letters are not legal documents? You are not required to list your legal name on either document.
Let’s say your legal name is Stephanie Smith and your chosen name is Darrel Smith. You might consider listing your name as S. Darrel Smith on the resume and cover letter.
Will I have to use my legal name during the Job Search
Unless you have made legal arrangements to change your name, unfortunately, you will need to provide your legal name for the actual job application, background checks, social security documents, and insurance forms. However, most organizations will allow you to use your preferred name for company contact information, email, and phone directory. Human resource professionals are bound by confidentiality and can be a good source of information.
When it comes to dressing for an interview, it is important that you present yourself in a manner that is consistent with the position for which you are applying. Dress professionally for the gender for which you wish to be seen as. This can also help your employer understand which pronouns you wish to use.
The world has changed but not enough
A recent study conducted by the University of Surry demonstrates that discrimination in the hiring process still exists. In that study the presented the participants with headshot images with the backgrounds removed along with voice samples. The found that just based on those two bits of information that the participants indicated they were less likely to hire the person and if they did hire them the candidate would be offered less money for the same job with the same skills as someone they perceived as heterosexual. Additionally, the participants indicated if the candidate already worked for the employer, they would likely be passed over for promotion preferring to promote a heterosexual.
According to a 2013 Queer in STEM study (science, technology, engineering, and math) found that more than 40% of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are not out as LGBTQ in the workplace.
No matter how you decide to proceed regarding your sexual orientation on your resume, you should do your homework on the employer’s LGBTQ workplace equality you before submitting your application.
Do research on the company’s website as well as other websites listing the company is important to know as much about them and their LGBTQ stance as possible. Know what legal protections are in place in your city, county, state, and country.
Network with other LGBT professionals of all levels
One of the best ways to get the inside scoop on an employer’s workplace LGBT friendliness is to connect with and communicate with an LGBT employee who currently or recently worked there. Don’t know anyone? No problem. Join the OutBüro on the LinkedIn LGBT professional networking group. It was the first and remains the largest LGBT+ professional networking group on LinkedIn with currently over 46,000 global members.
Like the OutBüro Facebook page and message others who like it. We’ll be considering starting an OutBüro on Facebook group shortly and then you’ll be right there ready to jump in.
It needs people just like you to participate. It’s fairly new and we would appreciate you taking a few moments to add reviews/rating of your current and recent past employers. It’s at no cost to you as an employee and it’s anonymous. Your review/rating will help other LGBTQ job seekers in the future during their job hunt company/organization research.
Search to see if your current or recent past employer(s) are present already in the system. If not, you may add it with limited features and then review/rate them.
Check out the below article and user guides to get started:
If interested in a job at a US Fortune 1000 level company one source is the HRC Corporate Equality Index. This organization and report have been instrumental in moving large companies forward in creating LGBTQ workplace equality. It is however as mentioned limited only to US Fortune 1000. It is also self-reported by those company HR departments with no employee input to our knowledge and definitely, no direct employee feedback on the actual workplace equality and general work culture.
Although not all, OutBüro has heard personally from many LGBT employees over the past few years that once their employer achieved the coveted 100% HRC Corporate Equality Index score that management backs off and the internal efforts dwindle to barely an acceptable level at best. It is awesome and we applaud HRC and all organizations who have achieved and maintain a 100% score. This report is but one view of the employer’s benefits, policies, business practices, and the potential of an LGBT friendly workplace environment. Don’t rely on it as your only.
If outside the United States
As of the updating of this LGBT employee resource article, OutBüro is only aware of one other corporate equality scoring report.
If you are aware of other studies and reports please contact us with a URL to the site so that we may include it within this article and other resource guides on the OutBüro site.
The Rainbow Tick is a New Zealand national accreditation program for organizations that are committed to safe and inclusive practice, and service delivery for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Organizations wishing to receive a Rainbow Tick are required to undergo accreditation against the Rainbow Tick Standards, owned and developed by Rainbow Health Victoria (formerly GLHV).
Stonewall UK Workplace Equality Index
Participating employers demonstrate their work in 10 areas of employment policy and practice. Staff from across the organization also complete an anonymous survey about their experiences of diversity and inclusion at work.
Organizations then receive their scores, enabling them to understand what’s going well and where they need to focus their efforts, as well as see how they’ve performed in comparison with their sector and region. The 100 best-performing organizations are celebrated publicly.
Stonewall Diversity Champions benefit from in-depth, tailored feedback on their submission.
Free & Equal – United Nations
Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people cannot be ended by governments alone. Businesses can foster diversity and promote a culture of respect and equality both in the workplace and in the communities where they and their business partners operate.
The United Nations is calling on companies all over the world – big and small, local and multinational – to help move the dial in the direction of greater equality for LGBTI people.
We know from experience that every time discrimination is diminished, everyone benefits.
It’s your life, your sexuality, your gender identity, and your career. Only you can make the choice on how out to be on your resume/CV in your new career job search and in the workplace. It’s your choice.
Remember, that reaching for your dreams is a verb. It’s action – and it’s always IN action. Your goals and dreams may change as YOU change and grow closer to them and that’s ok. That’s part of the journey. You can’t focus on whether or not you made it to the finish line – you need to focus on the journey, on the trip that gets you there – that’s where the greatest rewards can be found.
December 18, 2019 (updated December 18, 2019) Published by Paul Lorenz
Thank you to OutBuro.com for this opportunity to share my passion for creating and blending art and music. My work is visual and audible and I try to keep my blog/website as visual and audible as possible. Though words can be quite accurate, sometimes pictures and sounds conjure the right mood.
I try to complete a digital image based on current and past photographs every morning…a kind of meditation to start my creative day.
Since 2008, Dennis Velco founded and has nurtured LinkedIn’s largest LGBTQ networking group from a concept to an international networking resource with over 46,000 global members – that grows daily. Velco is a social entrepreneur with a passion for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
It was the driving force for Velco to launch the LGBT media crowd-sourced corporate social justice tech startup OutBüro. Additionally, OutBüro is a growing site of LGBT related business news, information, resources, and stories of careers and business owners.
Velco continues to moderate and grow the LinkedIn group yet now branded as and supported as a service of OutBüro.
For Dennis, creating, cultivating and growing the OutBüro on LinkedIn group has been a persistent and passionate endeavor.
OutBüro on LinkedIn welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT), queer, intersex and questioning professionals and entrepreneurs, along with friends, allies, recruiters and diversity professionals seeking to connect, network and communicate to advance their careers.
A Persistent Pioneer – How it began
“I’ve been on LinkedIn since way before people knew what it was, when I was living in New York City 16 years ago,” says Velco, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Back then it wasn’t as prominent as it is today. I put it on the backburner for a couple of years. As more clients began to mention it in casual conversation in late in 2007, I got more involved and did what most people do-I filled it out like a resume and began to prospect on it.”
As he became more involved, Velco began noticing other features of the networking service, especially the preponderance of collegiate alumni association groups listed on people’s profiles.
“I scoured LinkedIn searching for an LGBT Group and looking up very prominent LGBT community members to see if their profiles had any LGBT group listed. I found nothing,” he says. After several patient inquiries and a few months of back and forth, it turned out the site wasn’t hosting an LGBTQ networking group.
Velco contacted LinkedIn providing a strong case for an LGBT group on the site. Eventually, LinkedIn gave the green light, and Velco agreed to be the group’s owner and moderator voluntarily donating his time and resources.
He approached the project with fervor and a sense of mission. “I felt and continue to feel it is vital to have a strong open and out LGBT presence on the world’s largest professional networking site,” he says. “People are much more likely to be out on Facebook yet still hesitant to be out on LinkedIn.” At Velco’s request, all groups on LinkedIn offer the option to hide a group’s membership on public profiles.
Adding Members & Content
Once LinkedIn signed off, Velco jumped in with both feet, embracing the project, donating hours of time each day – including weekends – to building the group, taking a labor-intensive, trial-and-error approach.
“I would search LinkedIn and find profiles of people that had ‘LGBT, GLBT, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer and so forth’ in their listing and send them invitations to join the group. I’d have to be careful to weed out people who have ‘Gay’ in their names,” he says. “I then would send each person a personalized invitation to join the group.”
Building and maintaining this group has been a labor of love. “My past life partner thought I was crazy in the beginning of building it due to the amount of time and personal money I was investing in the group. The first several years I would spend anywhere from two to six hours a day combing the Internet for pertinent content to post,” Velco recalls.
“March 2018 will mark ten years that I’ve done this voluntarily,” he says.
In addition to writing pieces for the group, Velco searched international news sites to curate LGBTQ-focused, business-oriented pieces. “I would strive to stay non-political and avoid content that would alienate members,” he says. “I’d try to get global content because I didn’t want it to just be an echo chamber of U.S. and Canadian content. I can’t wait until LinkedIn gets automatic translations because I would like all members to be able to contribute, view and participate in their native language. I believe that being an English only site is a deterrent to many. Having such a feature I believe would increase member active participation.”
Nixing NSFW Content
Despite what a handful of aspiring members might think, LinkedIn is not an adjunct to Grindr or a Circuit Party Facebook page. Deflecting accusations of being sex-negative, Velco has spent a fair amount of time screening out applicants who submit genital images as their profile photos. As a business-oriented (rather than social) site, even shirtless pictures are typically verboten.
“Policing the group is important because while Facebook is typically banned at most businesses via the company internet, LinkedIn is not,” he emphasizes. I want OutBüro main site and our channels such as OutBüro on LinkedIn to remain Fortune 1000 level office friendly.
“I hold to LinkedIn’s terms of service. I’ve had to moderate and get involved with spats and even had a stalker who ended up banned from LinkedIn for life. I’ve had blatant anti-LGBT content in profiles. Every single person’s profile in the group must be reviewed by me to a degree.”
Today he’s exploring his new home town of Wilton Manors and the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area.
The group has from high school students through White House staff of both the Obama and Trump administration and every role in between. “Knowing that people at that level value the group enough to have an open LGBT or they are friendly representatives present makes me feel great. My effort to date has been well spent.”
Nevertheless, Dennis and his passionate quest continue with OutBüro being part of the evolution. He states, “I feel good because OutBüro is about helping people and companies/organization be better and make good decisions be being a resource and a tool of communication, growth, and change.”
Produced by George Zuber, President of Buddha Dog Productions also based in Fort Lauderdale. The documentary was simply captivating and alarming as 6 transgender women share their stories of being incarcerated. Their stories are a collective of mental and physical abuse, torture, blatant denial of safety, and medical care. Some live quietly and others have the amazing perseverance to be instruments of change. Some struggling with how to move on at so many levels from dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trying to find and/or build a solid steady legal income.
Attending the event was Carine Chehad, Miami Director, Human Rights Watch. Chehad stated that the Human Rights Watch has been around for quite some time but that once this administration started showing itself that the Human Rights Watch started to focus on the United States. She further stated that it is now one of the Human Rights Watch largest operation.
How I identified
Although I’m a cis-gender gay male, I could identify in several not pleasent ways. That comonality however helped me understand and empathize with these women. Although right now single in Wilton Manors, Florida, one of the gay capitals of the USA, my life has taken me all over the US and some of Europe. During those travels while just trying to not live in my hotel room due to business travels, I would go out for conversation.
On more than one occasion I’ve been raped by one and more than one guy. I was drunk and/or drugged. I was not completely coherent to give consent or purposely drugged to render me not capable of consent for fighting back.
I have a safety word and have for years due to this. If I say it, and it’s not honored prepare, if I am mentally able and physically able, to receive a stern punch in the nose with an upward motion or short hard chop to the throat.
I cannot imagine the additional issues of being incarcerated, trapped, completely aware, coherent of those actions.
After my divorce of a 17-year relationship almost 2 years ago I got into a bit of trouble. I was used to having a cocktail or 3 at home – not out. I got DUI’s. Yes. Two. Luckily my seconds was in Pinellas County with a Veterans Program. I was fortunate. I didn’t have those experiences in Pinellas or Polk County jails. But the potential was there. I was scared, frighted, came close to a knockdown twice. I cannot fathom the amount of fear, anguish and terror these women must have felt and gone through.
How Those Affected Move Forward
I’m not attempting to diminish by any stretch. Everyone has different ways of dealing with trauma. Most don’t get the mental or physical health treatment they need. It’s not what has been done to us that defines us. It’s what we do with it. It’s how much do we allow it to eat us up or surrender and focus on the positive in life and what you can do with it.
For those finding it difficult to find employment maybe start your own business or organization. Have a purpose while doing other jobs if necessary until your passion becomes a fully financially supporting enterprise. Find some resources here on OutBüro.
Realize your value in your experiences. Value yourself and what you have to offer. Be true to yourself first, then others. Believe in yourself and take actions toward your vision. When you do; magic and miracle happen.
Wishing you all the best and if there’s anything I can do and have the ability to do via myself or with others let me know.