Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Motivated and ready to work!

Reflections from Grayson Mitchell, the new Transgender Rights/Upstate Organizer

I cannot tell you how honored I am to work with such a dynamic, strategic and professional organization whose mission is one that I hold close to my heart. I am originally from Philadelphia, but moved to Virginia in 2004 to attend college at Mary Baldwin, where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I then went on to undertake direct practice work with LGBTQ youth in Richmond, VA. I have a diverse background in LGBT work, mental health, and advocacy. I served on the RICHMOND PFLAG Board, as well as Gay Pride Virginia, and Virginia Anti-Violence Project-among many other community efforts and work.

When I heard there was an opening on the Pride Agenda team, I immediately applied and actively campaigned to join their efforts and make a contribution to education, advocacy and political efforts for LGBT equality and justice here in New York State. My family is originally from here and I am eager to establish myself as a New Yorker.

Ironically, I learned an interesting lesson about the need for protections based on gender expression and identity while traveling up to my interview in Albany. I was detained in the Richmond Virginia Airport because the gender listed on my ID did not match my gender expression and identity. Aside from the humiliation of being detained and missing the last flight to my next destination, I was asked many questions outside of normal protocols or even remotely relevant for any person flying. I eventually made it to Albany the next day but my performance during the interview could have been severely compromised because of the anxiety and embarrassment that I suffered. Had the Pride Agenda staff not worked with me to get me to a hotel room safely and had they not made accommodations for me to recuperate before the interview, that interview might not have gone so well. Even though I was interviewing with an organization that would clearly not discriminate based on gender identity, my ability to be employed could have been compromised by a clear case of discrimination that had a direct impact on my performance.

Clearly there is much to do, and that experience galvanized my resolve to get busy. Now that I am here, I am proud to say that I look forward to working diligently for equality and justice for all LGBT New Yorkers and our families!

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