Mary Ann's Work Supporting Diversity

The transgender world has come a long way in the last few years. I remember well when crossdressers were just freaks on talk shows, and transsexuals were forced to divorce and change careers when they transitioned. F2Ms were unheard of.

Today, we are beginning to have some visibility and some rights. A growing list of companies promise not to discriminate against transgendered people, and some even cover transsexual health needs on the company health plan.  There is a wide network of support groups, and a growing education and advocacy community.

Workplace Diversity

I led a committee called Transgender at Work. Our first major achievement was that Lucent Technologies wrote into their EEO policy prohibition of discrimination against the transgendered, as of 10/1/1997. Lucent's groundbreaking policy prevents discrimination or harrassment based on "gender identity, characteristics, or expression." We can thank EQUAL!, Lucent's GLBT employee organization, and our wonderful HR organization, for this policy.

Lucent's EO policy has been adopted by Apple Computer and Avaya Communication and many other companies.

We've established a network of about two dozen transgendered individuals working for Lucent. 5 of us got together at EQUAL!'s annual Professional Development Conference in March 1999 in New York City. Here's the picture from the May 2000 conference.

We have developed a course for corporate education about transgender worksplace issues. The first offering was June 23, 1999 in Columbus.

On October 9, 1998, we made history! I worked all day at my regular Lucent office as Mary Ann. See the details. Since then, it's gotten to be routine.

Publicity and Honors

In 2004, JPMorgan Chase featured several employees, including me, in posters and huge banners in the lobby of their largest buildings. Here is the poster.

In October, 2003, my employer Bank One is running an ad in the Out & Equal conference program. It's a pretty cool ad.

In June, 2003, I played the part of a transsexual Fortune 500 executive in a television commercial for Stonewall Columbus. As far as I know, this is the first time a real transsexual has played the part of a fictional transsexual in a public forum.

I've been honored with the 2001 Trailblazer "Outie" Award from Out & Equal Workplace Advocates! The award was presented Oct 6, 2001 at the Out & Equal conference in Cincinnati. The gay media covered the event on gfn.com and HRC.

A series of journalists have interviewed me for various articles about transgender issues in the workplace. These include The Columbus Dispatch, The Diversity Factor, The Society for Human Resource Management, and The Bureau of National Affairs. (A 2001 interview in HR Executive, hasn't been published.) The Los Angeles Times interviewed me (as a sidebar to their Lynn Conway article, although they did not use the material from my interview in their story.)

Other Activist Work

The community is now Gay, Intersex, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender, or as we say, GIBLT.

The election of November, 2004 saddened GIBLT Americans nationwide. My friends Lisa and Bill Koontz (straight allies) and I wrote a little picker-upper poem called How the Grinch Stole Marriage. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we have.

I served on the board of Stonewall Columbus, I've been active in the Columbus chapter of NOW.

I strongly believe that society should not limit rights because of sex or gender. Women should be permitted to do anything men can do, and likewise men should be permitted to do anything women can do. I'm a feminist and a gay rights advocate. I believe the whole notion of a gender marker, or the forcing of people into categories like "men" and "women", is unnecessary and harmful. It makes life difficult for the transgendered when using public bathrooms, and it makes also makes it hard for gays and lesbians to marry or adopt.

I'm a "founding mother" of the Crystal Club. Along with several others (notably Rochelle, Susan, and Kelly) I started the club in March of 1989. We've met monthly in the Columbus area ever since.

I'm also a founding member, and former Chair, of It's Time, Ohio!, the Ohio advocacy group for transgendered, bisexual, lesbian, and gay (TBLG) people. ITOH is working to improve legal and social acceptence of gender-variant people. Before it dissolved, ITOH was the Ohio chapter of It's Time, America. In the spring of 1999, we successfully put on Equality Begins at Home - Ohio.

As a Christian, I know that God loves all of us, not just a few small minded bigoted sinners. I am a member of a Lutheran Church I belong to Lutherans Concerned. I'm especially moved by Rachel Miller's columns on the subject of Christianity and Crossdressing. Alas, if the responses Rachel got from preachers are any indication, there is much work to do educating the clergy what we are all about.

While chair of It's Time, Ohio, I wrote a column about It's Time, Ohio! for the Crystal Chronicle.

I've worked on my feminine presentation enough that I'm generally accepted as a woman whereever I go. However, I don't believe it should be necessary to "pass," just to be accepted as a woman. It should be just as accepted for a man to wear a skirt (but this turns out to be harder.)

Most transsexuals put all their energy into passing, so that nobody will know who they used to be. I've chosen to take a different path. I make sure I'm presentable, but I don't try to completely pass. Sometimes it's important to be visible as a transgendered person, so that society realizes we do exist. When we only crossdress privately, or we go in public and pass, we only contribute to the perception that "there are no transgendered people here."


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This page copyright (c) 2003 Mary Ann Horton.