Friends and allies, for nearly 9 years, I have valued your support as a transgender human being. When I first came out, and later when returning to the stage and screen, you were there for me. This next step is no less momentous -- and I am asking for your help.
Many of you know me as an artist, and part-time advocate. I am proud of the experiences I’ve had telling stories and bringing people together in the industry. In addition to performing, I’ve organized panels, done media appearances, published articles, and provided hours of consultation on a variety of projects all to support a more inclusive industry, especially when it comes to transgender people and the representation of trans lives. The Advocacy Page of my website documents many of these efforts.
My message has been consistent and direct - that transgender people are human beings deserving of the same opportunities, protections, and rights afforded everyone else.
Front page teaser of an op-ed for the Windy City Times
For years, my service work was undertaken part-time and without compensation, as a labor of love for my theatre and transgender communities. However, over this past year, a tremendous opportunity has been brewing. It's one that I'm certain will allow me to dedicate myself full time to this work, and reach more people and organizations with my message.
I’m proud to announce a new initiative - The Gender Revolution - Holding Brave Conversations for Transgender Inclusion.
The Gender Revolution is an original presentation and interactive event, based on my own experiences and a lot of research, and tailored for businesses and non-profit organizations to invite a robust conversation about Identity.
Not just trans people's identities -- but everyone's. Through exercises and examples from my own life, I invite audiences to engage with these questions:
Why is our Identity so important to us?
What makes up our sense of self, and why do we identify so viscerally with some groups, and individuals, but not others?
How does the media, including social media, both advance and distort the national conversation on gender?
Most of all, how can each of us undertake challenging discussions surrounding identity -- gender and otherwise -- that will connect rather than divide us further?
I believe people grow when their hearts are engaged as well as their intellect. This is not your standard TED talk, with me as some expert lecturing from on high, but rather an intensely personal, honest, and interactive experience.
Quick selfie during an Outreach in Chicago, June 2019
Two pilot presentations have been conducted already, one for a tech firm and another for a large Midwest theatre. These events and the resulting breakthroughs for my collaborators have convinced me that this initiative demands more of my attention and focus in this next phase of my life.
Certainly, there is no more urgent time to be of service to my community of transgender people. The impact of policies and many behaviors in this country have created an unbearable climate for us. It's bad. So frightening, I have considered moving to Canada, and somehow continue this work abroad.
But I just can't leave. I must stay. This video explains why.
(Content warning: transphobic events, violence against trans people, sexual assault)
This GoFundMe appeal is intended to provide direct support for me as I launch the business model to make it a sustainable project that can have maximum impact. Your support is important in helping me get there.
I am thrilled to share that a special presentation of The Gender Revolution will be held soon at About Face Theatre in Chicago for colleagues and invited guests. If you are able to donate at any level, and are interested in attending, I'll find you a seat.
- Kurt Shanks
- Linda Thornton
- Tobi & Josh Mattingly
- Marilynn Barner Anselmi