Indy's own JJ Gufreda is president of GEI, Inc., the first transgender-owned company certified as a LGBT business enterprise by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. She specializes in business process improvement, Lean, Six Sigma, continuous improvement, operations improvement, and total quality management services.
The transition/transgender journey from the body of a man into a woman, offered Gufreda what she felt were "relevant insights about others in the LGBT community which might be helpful for people that are uncomfortable around or even discriminatory towards LGBT folks." And so she wrote Left-Hander in London: A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals - In the Family, On the Job and In the Pew.
She uses London as an analogy for her journey: "If you've never been there, you might doubt that it's real. But once you see and experience it, you realize that it has been there all along."
In addition to offering stories and advice for transgender people and people seeking to understand the transgender phenomenon, Gufreda chronicles her often-painful relationship with her local church family.
Here are some selections that underscore concerns that LGBT often feel at the hands of what Gufreda calls "Christian Moralists":
- The hierarchy and a group of zealots (considered good
Catholics) are becoming more conservative, while anyone different is shunned,
bruised and rejected. I encounter more and more of these bruised people as I
move along my journey. They are searching for the Divine, but are shunned
rather than aided by the Church.
- When one person took the time to look up all the Biblical passages that he thought would condemn me and wrote me a letter whose only nod to compassion was, "Dear Joe, (my male name) Glad to hear your family is doing wellÉ you are living in sin," I did not feel any friendship or love at all.
- Our society expends a tremendous amount of energy criticizing, judging and condemning LGBT people—especially gays and lesbians. Based on history, there have always been LGBT people. The ones that I know seem pretty nice! They also did not "choose" to be gay or were not "won over" in a recruiting push (as some people believe). If God creates a certain number of gay people (estimated to be 5 to 10% of the population), maybe it would be better if we accepted them rather than trying to change their natural state and condemning them!
- It took me many years to discover and understand my true self. I have enjoyed a successful business career, which includes manufacturing industry management and engineering positions, consulting and teaching at a college. I have contributed to three business books and written several magazine articles. My wife and I have been married for over 33 years, and we have three grown children and a grandson.