Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-07-11
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Vanessa Sheridan helps trans community at Center on Halsted
by Molly Sprayregen
2018-03-21

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Vanessa Sheridan is a woman of many talents.

She's an author and a musician, a veteran and an advocate. She was a transgender inclusion consultant for businesses like McKinsey and Company, Mayo Clinic, Best Buy and the Human Rights Campaign, and agencies like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

She was also the first person to write a book on transgender Christian spirituality and have it published by a mainstream publisher. Now, Sheridan is using her talents at Chicago's Center on Halsted, the Midwest's largest LGBTQ community center, as the Center's first-ever director of transgender relations and community engagement.

Sheridan took on the job in February 2016, and since then has been tasked with building a department focused not only on offering resources and support to trans people in need, but also on creating a space where trans people can find and build community.

"It's been wonderful, terrifying, challenging, problematic, fantastic and everything in between," Sheridan said. "When you're doing anything new from scratch, there's always challenges, but then there's always some great opportunities as well, and I like to focus on the opportunities."

Among the events Sheridan has helped spearhead are the annual Transgender Community Ice Cream Social, Trans Military Appreciation Day and the annual Trans Turning Point, a series of presentations by vendors that provide goods and services to the trans community. The Center on Halsted also offers several transgender support groups as well as specialized counselors equipped to work with trans individuals struggling emotionally or psychologically.

Sheridan is especially excited about a current project: developing a Transgender Leadership Academy. "We want to help train and equip the next generation of trans community leaders," she says, "and this will be a way to help us move in that direction."

Throughout her 26 years working as a trans advocate, Sheridan has placed a major focus on educating people on the realities of transgender life. "People can't begin to change their attitudes or their actions until they're given enough information to make them want to do that or help them to do that," she says, "I see a big part of my role here at Center on Halsted as being one of those folks to educate and to bring some of that into the mainstream, to give people a framework of understanding, so they can make better choices about how they deal with transgender people."

One of the realities about which Sheridan wants to spread awareness is the high transgender suicide rate. Forty percent of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey said they have attempted suicide. The suicide rate of the general U.S. population is 4.6 percent.

"If that were any other demographic group in this country … we'd have already declared a national emergency," Sheridan said. "We'd have been calling out FEMA and all that kind of stuff, but that's not happening, and it's not happening because there's a lack of understanding and a lack of respect I think for trans individuals in this culture, and I think we need to do a better job of educating people."

Trans unemployment rates are another big issue. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found trans unemployment to be three times that of the national rate. "I don't think you can have full social equality until you first have economic equality," Sheridan said, "and you can't have economic equality until you have employment opportunities. So we have to try to educate employers, hiring managers, recruiters about the realities of the fact that transgender people have a lot of talent and they're an untapped demographic group to a great degree.

"My hope is the rising tide will lift all the boats: The employers get a better employee, the trans employees have the opportunity to work for a living, companies get better products or services and society wins. Because again, the rising tide lifts all the boats—but that only works if you have a boat. So in this case we have to build the boat around authenticity, around facts and around realities, and that's what I try to share with folks."

Education, however, is not only for cisgender folk attempting to better understand the trans community. Sheridan said she urges those struggling with their gender identity to educate themselves as well. "There's a million things online to look at," she stressed. "There's good books out there to read. Do that. Educate yourself. Find out what your options are. A lot of folks don't think they have any options but I think we find out as we begin to educate and inform ourselves that options begin to appear."

Sheridan said she believes the Center on Halsted has a fantastic opportunity to make an impact not only on the transgender community of Chicago but also on a national level. She hopes, for example, that the Transgender Leadership Academy may become a template other cities can use to develop their own.

"I think this organization is so uniquely positioned to have an opportunity to move forward and to help trans people gain self acceptance, become equipped with skills they need to be successful in life, and to create community that will provide support and resources and reinforcement as people struggle with, again, the realities of life as a trans person," she said.

Sheridan also stated that she wants to help the Center on Halsted remain a safe haven for LGBTQ people. "When disaster strikes for the LGBTQ community in Chicago, this is a place where people come," she said. "They gravitate here, and we want to be prepared to be supportive of the trans community. … I think that's really important for us on any number of levels, not just on a practical, resource-based level but on a symbolic level too. My hope is that people will look at this organization and say, when things go bad, we know we can depend on Center on Halsted, and I want to be part of that and help create that support that people want to find when they come to a place like this."

Center on Halsted will hold its TDOV Transgender Day of Visibility program, coming up on March 31. Here is a link to it: www.centeronhalsted.org/newevents-details.cfm .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Day of Unity makes HIV/AIDS a social justice issue 2018-07-12 - According to activist Rev. Doris Green, who heads up Chicago-based Men and Women in Prison Ministries, the Day of Unity, which this year ...


Gay News

EJAF Founder Elton John and Duke of Sussex to announce new global AIDS coalition 2018-07-12 - NEW YORK — July 12, 2018 — The Elton John AIDS Foundation ( EJAF ), an international leader in the global fight to ...


Gay News

One Million Kids for Equality Comments on Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act 2018-07-12 - Seattle, WA ( July 12, 2018 )- Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee passed the Child Welfare Inclusion Act ( CWIA ...


Gay News

Out and Sober, beating dual stigma 2018-07-11 - Tucked away on Chicago's West Side, the Gateway Foundation's Chicago Independence location is helping recovering addicts from the LGBTQ community get back on ...


Gay News

Transgender veterans as healthy as cisgender veterans, study finds 2018-07-11 - Transgender veterans differ only on the likelihood of having at least one disability A new study finds that the mental and physical health ...


Gay News

New program to serve LGBT military with mental illnesses, substance abuse 2018-07-09 - ( WASHINGTON ) July 9, 2018 — Today, OutServe-SLDN and Strive Health ( Strive ) and Veteran & First Responder Healthcare ( VFR ...


Gay News

GenForward surveys millennials' views on LGBT issues: race, identity, experience 2018-07-09 - Do more Millennials self-identify as LGBTQ than in past generations… or are they just more open about it? Are they more connected to ...


Gay News

BSA conducting needs assessment 2018-07-04 - Brave Space Alliance ( BSA ) is doing a "Dedicated Trans Needs Assessment" this month. This will be inclusive to the trans and ...


Gay News

Trans community holds second annual event at Hollywood Beach 2018-07-04 - The Trans Liberation Collective, with the support of Brave Space Alliance and Rebirth Garments held its second Annual Trans Day at the Beach ...


Gay News

PrideIndex celebrates 11th Annual Esteem Awards 2018-07-04 - On June 30 ( during Windy City Black Pride Week ), about 50 local residents, family and friends of the LGBTQ community and ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.