Explore transgender diversity through a cool one-woman show!

JJ Marie Gufreda spends time at the piano composing more songs about her experience as a transgender woman.

I am a big proponent of transporting people out of their daily lives through the performing arts to give them a fresh prospective on societal issues, and have written a few blogs on this subject (see list and links at the bottom of this blog.) I am also a diversity and inclusion consultant and trainer, and one area I often consult in is around policies and best practices to support transgender employees. (Link to my 12 question transgender organization self-assessment.)

Now let’s bring these two areas together!

Since the transgender topic is so often misunderstood and even frightens some people, one ideal way to educate people in a more lighthearted way is via the performing arts. You can credit much of the advancement in terms of gay and lesbian acceptance to the portrayal in televisions and movies, and now the performing arts can also help made strides in the transgender area.

So I would like to introduce an incredible transgender woman and business associate, JJ Marie Gufreda. JJ realizes that often, deeply personal views are not changed by logical arguments, but instead via human interaction, personalizing the discussion, and through humor. JJ delivers her 90-minute show, “Left-Hander in London – The Earthquake,” with a tongue-in-cheek style and uses sarcasm and music to share her experiences as a transgender woman.

The show is edgy and thought provoking. She talks about family, business, religion and politics from her personal perspective. JJ believes, that if this show, which includes original music and songs, can get people to laugh a little and connect as humans, we can then make progress towards positive change.

JJ Marie often engages her audience in dialogue following her show.

This show is ideal for a variety of venues, including businesses, community organizations, schools, and even churches that want to start or deepen a discussion on understanding and treating transgender people fairly. The show can be used to launch a discussion and create a safe space where all people can honestly dialogue about diversity topics and their personal views.

So, for your organization, consider transporting everyone from the typical presentation and training into this fantastic one-woman production that can truly open eyes and hearts.

For more information, check JJ’s updated website at https://www.crossdreamers.com/2019/04/left-hander-i-london.html or contact her at [email protected]

Below are some words directly from JJ, and links to some of my related blogs.

From JJ Marie: Diversity can be a difficult topic to discuss in corporations. What is the real organizational benefit to improving diversity and including minorities? Many organizations have made public statements and have visible initiatives for diversity in their employees, suppliers and customers. But not everyone in the organization may agree with a company’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusiveness. Society is certainly divided about diversity. If an employee shares his or her (negative) feelings about diversity, minorities or any related topics, they may be risking their job. Incongruence between corporate and personal views can cause problems in the organization – especially when even discussing these topics can lead to people losing their jobs.

Since the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage, the fight for LGBTQ rights has focused on transgender people and issues, making JJ’s story relevant as it relates to all minorities. Her experiences from 30+ career in facilitation, speaking, training and consulting can be helpful in assessing real progress in diversity, helping people to positive discourse regarding diversity and assisting a company improve operations and the bottom line because of their diversity programs and policies. Just as it is strategically important for a transgender employee to be able to safely and comfortably transition at work, it is critically important to help employees improve their attitudes around people that are different from them. JJ and her consulting colleagues can use experience to help employees, management and the company improve in these areas.

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Links to related blogs about social issues being addressed through the performing arts:

“A great diversity experience – Theater Breaking Through Barriers” about enjoying an off-Broadway play in New York City which featured actors with a wide range of disabilities.

“Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Bluegrass Music,” is about an innovative annual concert called “Shout and Shine” of diverse Bluegrass musicians. This celebration came about in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” discriminating against our LGBT citizens.

I introduce the Justice Theater Project, a social justice theater company whose mission is to produce compelling theater experiences that create community dialogue and give voice to social concerns through my blog “The Justice Theater Project – Societal Impact Through the Performing Arts.”

A two part blog featuring a mother / daughter – director / actress pair using theater to make a positive impact in England. Link to part 1 which then contains a link to part 2.

Four Distinguished Black Business Leaders and a Fantastic Book!

NOTE: Some links to related blogs dealing with race and racism at the bottom.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, even though my deep area of expertise is the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, I know it is critical to educate myself and support other key areas of diversity including race. The struggles of black-owned businesses and professionals are still very real and present and need continued attention.

One wonderful organization I occasionally participate with is the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA – link), conceived in 1970 to help Blacks coming into the corporate sector, largely for the first time, share experiences and insights to help make the journey easier. See my 2014 blog about their “Leaders of Tomorrow” Program.

On February 2, 2018, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of the NBMBAA hosted a panel discussion with four distinguished business leaders:
• James Sills, CEO, M&F Bank
• Michael Lawrence, CEO, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company
• Isaac Green, President & CEO, Piedmont Investment Advisors
• Joseph Sansom, past chairman of M&F bank and on their Raleigh Advisory Board.

Some of the key points made during the panel discussion included:

• Many black-owned businesses like the ones represented on the panel were founded as a necessity when the enterprises of the day would not serve black customers.

• M&F Bank realized the importance of “owning” vs “renting” and provided loans for mortgages in the early 1900s to blacks.

• Supporting community banks, businesses and community is important for the vibrancy of a community.

• With desegregation came a great deal of mergers and acquisitions of these black owned businesses which has been both good and bad for the black community. For example, in 1970 there were 45 black-owned insurance companies and now that is down to under 20.

• One dynamic of leading a black owned business is the opportunity to call the shots instead of being on the outside looking in.
In addition to attending this panel, I recently read a fantastic short (only 108 pages) powerful book titled “Listen In – Crucial Conversations on Race in the Workplace” by Allison Manswell. This unique book is written as a novel, but contains subsections of useful business tools as it follows the journeys of 5 black professionals who are close friends. The book also addresses the intersection of the black community with generational, gender, religious and gay diversity.

The USA will be a stronger country and our economy more robust as we continue to understand the issues of various minorities within our national fabric and take action to support and nurture all businesses and professionals.

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Related Blogs:

In “Sexism, Racism and the Dynamics of Power,” I examine the power dynamic as critical when we discuss the societal and workplace issues of sexism, sexual harassment and racism.

“Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump,” reviews and summarizes a fascinating and important book by David R. Morse that chronicles the many forms of racism present within the USA from our founding days up to current times.

• Though a good number of white people believe that the racial discrimination of the past is eradicated, the black community for the most part, as well as statistical realities, would indicate otherwise. See “Facing the Truth – Racism Still Persists in the USA.”)