By Lori Fox
I struggled with gender identity most of my life. I struggled to come out as a transgender woman to family, friends and co-workers. I was living deep in a closet, not knowing how or where to turn for help, especially in my workplace. Without any gender identity policies, practices and benefits within my company, I felt unsafe and powerless to do anything. I felt that if I advocated for myself or for others too strongly, I would be terminated.
Sadly, this is what the power of fear and shame can do in a non-inclusive workplace culture. Not courageously standing up for what I believe in was one of the most painful and agonizing consequences of “living a lie” and being in the closet. Unfortunately, this happens in many workplaces throughout the country. It is unconscionable for someone to be fired simply for being their “authentic self” – whether that is identifying as transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay or questioning.
So today, I want to share exciting news about one of the premier LGBT events in the country, with a specific focus on the diverse transgender community. Entering its 24th year, the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) will run September 3 to 7 at the Crowne Plaza at Ravinia in Atlanta, Georgia. This year will be my 16th year of attendance at the SCC. Actively participating in this annual conference has changed my life over the past several years.
Each September, the SCC hosts, not only members of the incredibly diverse transgender community and their partners/spouses, but the entire LGBQ & Ally community, providing a professional forum for accessing unique resources, training and networking opportunities. This comes in the form of four days of professional seminars, speakers and entertainment. Many of the best doctors/surgeons, therapists, voice coaches, business professionals and vendors from around the world will be available, catering specifically to SCC attendees needs.
Once again this year, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is excited to be working with SCC to create a one-day program on Friday, September 5th that focuses specifically on issues of workplace equality impacting the Transgender community. The Out & Equal Workplace Advocates events will include three panels/workshops throughout the day, in addition to general sessions that feature the leading voices in the LGBT equality movement from the Transgender community.
I hope that you are able to be in Atlanta and actively participate in the Southern Comfort Conference, September 3 to 7.
Lori Fox is a member of the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates Board of Directors and a passionate advocate of the incredibly diverse LGBT community. As a Transgender woman and President of Lori Fox Diversity/Business Consulting, Lori works as a diversity/business consultant and personal coach, consulting with individuals and corporations on workplace issues, in particular, Transgender workplace issues.