Posts Tagged ‘gender identity’

An introduction to “Gender Fluidity” including a parent’s story

In by last blog, “A Diversity and Inclusion Case Study – Getting it Right” I shared the story of a Men’s Clothing Chain whose customer service representative and store manager did a wonderful job of addressing the concerns of a mother wanting to find a nice suit for her gender fluid child to wear to primary school graduation. I promised to share a little more about what gender fluidity is and more of Innes’ (the mother) and Carolyn’s (the child) story.

The “Gender Diversity Education and Services” website had about the best description of what gender fluidity is. They provide this definition, “Gender fluidity conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender expression, with interests and behaviors that may even change from day to day. Gender fluid people do not feel confined by restrictive boundaries of stereotypical expectations of women and men. For some people, gender fluidity extends beyond behavior and interests, and actually serves to specifically define their gender identity. In other words, a person may feel they are more female on some days and more male on others, or possibly feel that neither term describes them accurately. Their identity is seen as being gender fluid.”

Now read the story of mother Innes Clodd telling us about her gender fluid child Carolyn:

“It’s hard to know where to begin, as this really has been more of a journey than a one-time event. She came to me when she was much younger, maybe 9, and said she thinks maybe she was transgender. I really had no idea how to react, what to think, how to feel; it was confusing at best for me, never mind her.

I accepted what she had told me and made some calls, set up some meetings and helped her get in touch with some resources that could help her make sense of what she was feeling. One of the groups had a parental unit, so I attended that group; it was quite helpful, but at the same time, added to my confusion.
As time went on, I decided it was best to let Carolyn set the pace, and I would follow her lead. She had changed her name to August, and the school was very supportive with her decision. He decided he didn’t really like that name, so changed again to Kryss. Again, there was a fairly supportive environment. There are 2 older brothers in the family, who tried to be supportive, but most of the time it came off as making fun, although they did apologize, in a way that boys do, for hurting his feelings.

Again, time goes on, things seem to be going ok, then my partner at the time, who is not the biological father, started to call him names, like “thing, it, whatever.” This spurred many arguments, since I will go to the ends of the earth for my children. Finally it is over, he is gone, the energy calms. Kryss then reverts back to Carolyn, but cannot decide which pronoun to use, neither one feels 100% right. At that point she states that she is gender fluid. Honestly, I had no idea what that even was, I had to look it up.

We moved away from that town, as my ex was stalking us, to a whole new place. The only downfall, it was Carolyn’s last year of her primary school. She was very sad to leave her friends behind, and really had a hard time making friends this past year, as she knew that we would be moving again this summer, so she would again be in an environment as a complete new comer.

Regardless if she expresses herself as a girl or a boy, Carolyn’s joy of life shines through a beautiful smile.

During the past school year, she talked to me a lot about how she was feeling, the struggles she was having, and also the times when she was accepted for being who she was. On any given day she could identify as either male, female, or sometimes flip flop over the course of the day. Her main struggle seemed to be which category she fit in to. I told her not to put herself in a box, not to label herself, and that she did not have to fit in to any category as long as she was happy, being true to herself, her identity would come in time. There were many conversations, and many tears shed. My heart was breaking for her, but all I could do was listen and be supportive.

Finally!! Success!! She began just being Carolyn, sometimes boy Carolyn, sometimes girl Carolyn, hence the nick name “Baby They”. I even got her a birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday Baby They”, she loved it.

Then came time to talk about primary school graduation, something I was secretly not looking forward to. Then the words came out of her mouth, as I knew they would “I want to wear a suit to grad Mum”….

… and you will have to read my previous blog to see how the story of the graduation outfit turns out!

Yes! Virginia is for all lovers (and all employees and businesses)

Virginia is for loversTagline: North Carolina needs to take a few lessons from our neighbor Virginia. See also several additional pertinent links at the bottom of the article

As a diversity consultant and an out gay man in North Carolina, one state south of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I and others would often scoff at Virginia’s tourism slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” Some of us would create amended signs that read “Virginia is for SOME Lovers” since Virginia was one of those Southern States that long had a state constitutional amendment outlawing same-gender couples.

But now, with the latest executive order on January 5th signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia has progressed into a shining star of equality and fair play for all its citizens. Now let me tell you this story and provide the additional details.

The past: Yes, Virginia was one of the southern states that quite early in the “marriage equality” movement prohibited the recognition of same-gender marriages. Of course that was completed voided by the June, 2015 Supreme Court ruling that provided for same gender marriage recognition and availability across all fifty states.

The present: But then early this year, Virginia surpassed her southern neighbors with Governor McAuliffe signing state executive order Number 61 on January 5th. It directs all Executive Branch entities to include in their procurement contracts valued over $10,000 a prohibition on discrimination by the contractor in its employment practices, subcontracting practices, and delivery of goods or services, on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status. Executive Branch entities must also require that the contractor will include the same nondiscrimination requirements in every subcontract, vendor contract, or state procurement contract.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

In signing this, his first executive order as a the new Governor, Mr. McAuliffe stated, “As my first act as Governor, I signed Executive Order 1 to ban discrimination in the state workforce based on sexual orientation, take divisive social issue battles off the table and help build an open and welcoming economy. Starting today, the Commonwealth of Virginia will not do business with entities that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Virginia is home to the best state workforce in the country and this policy will ensure there is no question that all Virginians are to receive the full benefits of their citizenship, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

As a diversity and inclusion consultant with a very deep expertise in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) diversity, I stand excited and ready to assist any company doing business with the commonwealth of Virginia with the consulting services and training to fully comply with the order as well as building the corporate culture to assure true execution.

The future: Being here in North Carolina, where last year our out-of-touch legislature passed our hateful and economically harmful state anti-LGBT legislation known as HB-2, I encourage our new governor Roy Cooper to follow suit with Virginia and issue our own similar order for our state’s executive branch contractors.
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Useful and interesting links:
The complete text of Virginia Executive Order 61

An interesting history of Virginia’s “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan.

President Obama’s similar executive order for LGBT protections at the federal level.

My blog about the harmful impacts of North Carolina’s HB2.

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