Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-11-19
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Sponsor
Social Security plaintiff on love, loss and the fight ahead Social Security plaintiff
on love, loss and
the fight ahead
Born in Florida in 1957, David Williams has always been a practical ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Lori Fox hurdles over obstacles
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-04-17

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Lori Fox was speaking three years ago at Aurora University when a male student asked Fox to describe herself in one word, explaining where she was at, at that very moment.

Fox went to the chalk board and wrote: INCONGRUENT.

She then circled the first two letters of the word.

"My goal is to get rid of the 'IN' and truly be congruent. That would be congruent physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think that's the goal of a lot of trans individuals," she said.

Flash forward to the present and, without a doubt, the word Fox would write about herself would be, CONGRUENT.

"I feel very congruent," she said.

Fox, a trans woman who lives in suburban Naperville, is the president and founder of Lori Fox Diversity/Business Consulting, working with individuals and corporations on workplace issues, especially LGBT personal and professional development.

"Today, I am an authentic woman, a business professional, a passionate advocate for the LGBT community who will do anything to help educate and facilitate change," she said.

Fox is happier than she's ever been, all smiles at the joy she experiences personally and professionally, mostly because that was not always the case.

Personally, Fox was born in Michigan, raised in a small, conservative, Catholic town near Lansing, with two brothers and three sisters—and she always felt very connected with her sisters because, she now admits, "I felt that I was a girl."

"The struggle for me is the same [that it is] for many transgender individuals: I knew at a very young age that I was dealing with gender-identity [issues], though I didn't know what they were or what they meant. In fact, I hadn't even heard the term transgender [while growing up,] but I knew I was different," Fox said.

Those identity issues lingered, so Fox suppressed her deepest, most personal thoughts and feelings. After graduating from college, Fox moved to California, where she was working for McDonald's Corporation. She even married a woman and the relationship lasted almost 10 years.

"I never felt safe in coming out, so I just felt that if I do what others [traditionally] do—get married, have a child—that would repress everything and I wouldn't have to deal with it," she said. "But that only works for so long. I was living and working here in Chicago, and married, and just couldn't take it anymore."

Fox and her ex had one son, Mark, who went to school in the Chicago area and, now 30, lives on the East Coast.

"I love him dearly," Fox said. "Very often, the process of change is very hard; people don't necessarily want change, especially family. My son knows that I now am much happier, that I am at a place in my life where I truly love who I am—and he respects that, though he continues to struggle at times.

"I've told him, 'I haven't gone anywhere; [my] physical appearance has changed, but I'm still the same person and who I love and how I love certainly has not changed.'"

Fox first came out to Mark about 12 years ago, while he was a college intern working a summer in Los Angeles. They went walking on the beach in Santa Monica, and she revealed she is transgender.

He replied, "Oh, I thought you were gay—because you fit the stereotype of a gay man: you dress impeccably, you have great taste, you're very professional and more."

Fox answered, "I had to explain to him what [transgender] meant, that there is truly a difference between sexual orientation, [meaning,] who we are physically and emotionally [attracted to,] and gender identity/expression, who we honestly know and feel we are deep inside, and I have always felt that I was a female, a woman."

Ultimately, one of the biggest struggles the two had—and still have—is with pronouns.

"Dad" is now Lori to Mark ... well, at least most of the time.

They were shopping together in San Francisco a few years ago. Mark was about 30 feet away from Fox and wanted to show her something, so he yelled, "Hey Dad, look at this."

Mark is getting married this spring, and Fox is excited, but also a bit sad. She purposely was not invited to participate in a recent bridal shower; Fox's ex and her son felt that it would make other women feel "uncomfortable" if she was there.

"This was incredibly hurtful and dismissive; a very painful experience—not to be invited or included in the bridal shower celebration with all of the other women," Fox said. "Unfortunately, rejection, ignorance and bigotry are still very prevalent in the lives of so many transgender women and men."

Fox's professional life hasn't been as smooth as it now is, not even close.

She worked at McDonald's Corporation for more than 20 years, including time as a director of human resources and business partner, with both U.S. and international assignments.

"I was closeted the whole time at McDonald's, working as a man because I didn't feel safe coming out. One of the reasons was, there are no inclusive diversity policies, no benefits, in place for transgender women and men," Fox said. "I knew that there was no future as Lori [at McDonald's]. My boss at the time knew that I was struggling with transgender issues, yet if I came out as Lori Fox [while working at McDonald's], I most likely would have lost my job. There was a culture of homophobia, and transphobia, too. Fear and shame can truly wear you down when you have to hide and can't live an honest, authentic life—I certainly know that first- hand.

"That journey from leaving McDonald's to starting my own consulting firm has taken a while. I felt that I needed to dig deep within myself, and understand, accept and love myself for who I am before I could get out in the world and make a difference, because shame and fear are powerful, powerful motivators.

"Today, I've never been happier."

The transition for Fox has included significant, in-depth work with therapist Barbra McCoy-Getz. Fox also participates in a women's group that McCoy-Getz has led for years. "The work we do is so powerful and life-changing," Fox said. "It has truly changed my life in so many wonderful ways, helping me to live my life in a more honest and truly healthy way."

Before Fox transitioned, McCoy-Getz asked Fox to write a letter to her parents, telling them everything, though she didn't have to actually send it. She wanted Fox to begin expressing her honest thoughts and feelings about who she was as a transgender woman.

Fox ultimately wrote a 10-page letter.

McCoy-Getz said it was OK; however, she felt that Fox's parents would not believe her.

Fox was surprised and upset by her therapist's comments.

McCoy-Getz replied, "Lori, you need to write about your struggle, and talk about the deep pain you have felt for so many years of your life. If your family, friends and colleagues don't feel your pain, they aren't going to understand; they aren't going to change."

"That was a powerful lesson for me," Fox said.

She tells that story—and all of the pain she endured over the years—often, anywhere, to everyone who will listen.

"Years ago, I would have loved it if someone was doing what I am now doing," she said. "Many employers/organizations don't necessarily embrace change, in fact, they often resist it. If, as an employer/organization you're not willing to change, even though your customer-base is changing, you eventually lose market share, you will lose loyal customers, and you will lose talented employees, many employees who may identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

"We can't expect others to embrace change until they see us feel and embrace our own change. If we can't love and accept ourselves, how are we going to expect other people to."

Fox, now single, said she has always been attracted to women and is OK with the lesbian label, if she must be labeled. She has a large mix of friends, mostly women, and Fox enjoys many creative, artistic endeavors, as well traveling and scuba diving in her free time.

Fox's consulting firm works with companies in a diversity of industries, including manufacturing, hospitals, finance, law firms and more—most out of need. "I have a very niche business, and I love it, because there is a true need," she said.

Fox serves on the board of directors for Out & Equal, an international LGBT organization whose mission is dedicated to creating safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women and men. She was recently profiled in the new best-selling book "Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office." The book is an anthology of authentic, inspirational stories of out LGBT executives and leaders who are business owners or who work for U.S. and internationally-based companies. Fox also volunteers as the national chairperson of the transgender workplace advisory board for Out & Equal.

"One of the big issues today facing the transgender community is under-employment or unemployment," Fox said. "Plus, there are so few healthy role models, champions for trans men and trans women; that's an ongoing challenge. Part of what my generation of trans men and trans women need to continue to do is serve as healthy role models and mentors for our community."

She spoke at a church in St. Charles earlier this year, telling the power of a story—her traditional tale.

"When you can honestly share your story and talk about what your life is, the struggles, etc., that's so important," she said. "To me, emotional health is as important as physical health. And I feel that a lot of transgender people would agree with that."

Fox laughs when asked her age—the lone question during this interview that she side-stepped. "I'm a young baby boomer … and a woman doesn't tell her age," she said, laughing.

"I wish I would have transitioned many, many years ago, but I wasn't ready. But I am sure ready now."

And doing wonders to represent the LGBT community, not just the T side.

"Lori's leadership on workplace issues is something that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention, but that's because she's in the workaday world of providing Corporate America with real answers and helping to create real employment opportunities for trans folk," said trans sportswriter Christina Kahrl, of Chicago. "She's already there and working on something where we, as a community, need to be, to be able to support ourselves and be able to make our own choices, just as anyone else would want for themselves."


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.

Michael Sam on coming out, his childhood, being at bottom 2014-11-21
2016 Bingham Cup heads to Nashville, not Chicago 2014-11-20
Jason Collins to retire from NBA 2014-11-19
LGBT sports airing through live Web streaming network 2014-11-19
OUT! Bowling in Naperville through Dec. 18; Sports news 2014-11-19
Veteran killed; Perry disrupted; Collins honored 2014-11-19
LETTER Lesbian and Gay Bar Association Pres to Gov.-elect Rauner 2014-11-17
PASSAGES Trans lesbian author Leslie Feinberg dies 2014-11-17
Lakeside Pride, Lea DeLaria and Artemis celebrate Women In Music 2014-11-17
Roosevelt U. hosts Equality vs. Liberation forum 2014-11-15
Artemis Singers to present "Loves Lost, Loves Found" in 2015 2014-11-15
Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame honors new inductees 2014-11-13
BUSINESS Calif. clothiers for masculine-identified opens pop-up store 2014-11-12
Eileen Myles reads from forthcoming dog memoir 2014-11-12
Artemis Singers: Celebrating 35 years of shows 2014-11-12
Report: Bisexuals face more discrimination than gays, lesbians 2014-11-11
Queer musicians Alber and Henderson in Chicago Nov. 14 2014-11-09
NUNN ON ONE Lea Delaria talks 'Orange Is the New Black,' trans backlash 2014-11-05
LGBT races across nation: mixed results 2014-11-05
Film shines spotlight on gay White Sox fans 2014-11-05
Coming up: 'CLLAW XX'; OUT! Bowling 2014-11-05
Think Tank convenes to create inclusive athletic climates 2014-11-04
Armatrading on final tour, at City Winery April 23-24 2014-11-04
Rita Mae Brown at Chicago Public Library Dec. 9 2014-11-01
After 18 years, lesbian moms happy with donor choices 2014-10-31
Chicago Gay, Lesbian Hall of Fame to induct people, groups 2014-10-31
BETTY returns for holiday show 2014-10-29
'Out' lesbian Moms Mabley was comedic pioneer 2014-10-29
LBTQ Giving Council creates video for fundraising campaign 2014-10-29
Melissa Etheridge: On marriage, performing 2014-10-29
Chicago Dragons: Staying busy and winning 2014-10-29
Sports notes: Visits, honors, bullying 2014-10-29
Women honored at Center on Halsted event 2014-10-26
Lesbian veteran to be buried with late wife in Idaho cemetery 2014-10-22
Johnny Weir: Bringing the 'Love' in new documentary 2014-10-22
Alison Bechdel: Artist, genius and instigator of change 2014-10-22
OPALGA's 25th- anniv. gala Oct. 25 2014-10-22
Upcoming events in film, music, poetry 2014-10-22
Chicago doctor, 75, cellist, traveler, marathon runner 2014-10-21
Michael Sam waived from Cowboys squad 2014-10-21





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Federal judge: Montana's anti-equal marriage rule unconstitutional
 
TRAVEL Eureka Springs, Ark.: Living on mountain time
 
National Women's Hall of Fame hosts forum in Chicago
 
DISH: SAVOR Old Crow Smokehouse; Kokopelli
 
Leaving a legacy: Danny Kopelson reflects on Hall of Fame life
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now
Sponsor


Sponsor

  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
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.