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 2019-09-18
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Grayson Alexander talks history-making role, politics, future plans
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

When Grayson Alexander was growing up he never dreamed he would make history as the first out transgender person to become an Illinois General Assembly page, an accomplishment he achieved in a work-study program during the second semester of his senior year at Springfield ( Illinois ) High School.

Alexander did not know this was the first transgender page until he was preparing to testify in front of the Senate Public Health Committee and someone mentioned it to him.

"I was stunned and proud because I had broken a barrier," said Alexander.

Alexander was able to both be a page and advocate for the LGBTQ community after getting clearance by the Clerk of the Senate as long as the additional work did not take place on the state's time.

The process involving the Modernization of Vital Records Act—which allows transgender people to correct the gender marker on their birth certificate without surgery—happened while Alexander was a page, and he advocated for the bill with Equality Illinois and the ACLU.

"It was my first lobbying experience," said Alexander. "I went to watch advocates speak with legislators, but ended up sharing my story. A little later on, I spoke at a press conference for the bill, met with my representative, lobbied the Republican leader, wrote op-eds and eventually testified in front of the Senate Public Health Committee alongside Sen. Toi Hutchinson. I got to be on the floor when it was voted on, and seeing it passed may be one of the most emotional moments of my life."

The seeds of Alexander's advocacy work began at an early age under his mother's guidance. He spent his childhood in Springfield, where his mother primarily raised him and his two older sisters. Later on, he gained two step-parents and four older step-siblings when his divorced parents married others.

"I did not fit in school, but my mom helped me redirect my discomfort into serving others," said Alexander. "Some of my earliest memories are helping her cook and distribute meals for the homeless who slept at Springfield's library, and climbing into our car to go get groceries with a blind senior citizen she had been paired with through a volunteer program.

"I was absolutely stoked when I realized politics could help uplift people. I vividly remember watching a 2008 Obama campaign speech and being inspired by the hope for a better future. I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down everything I would change to make the world better."

This became personal for Alexander when he entered high school and was assured by the administrators that he would be able to use the men's restrooms. That all changed when Alexander was stopped by a security guard two weeks into his freshman year when he was leaving the men's bathroom.

"When I went to the school's administrators, I found myself sitting outside the office for three hours while listening to my rights being stripped away inside," said Alexander. "I went home defeated, and with access to only a single-stall restroom in the far annex of the school. For the next two years, my mom and I fought to regain my bathroom access, and won. My junior year, I sat down with the administration and superintendent to affirm transgender students' right to the restrooms that align with their gender identity."

Alexander is currently a junior at Loyola University where he majors in political science and minors in sociology. He explained that being a page made him realize that he loved public service. He plans on working in policy development or a lobbying position to improve the lives of Illinoisans, especially hoping to ensure that marginalized groups are treated equitably.

From 2016 to 2018, Alexander worked with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance's Youth Committee, where he planned and executed their annual Action Camp for LGBTQ youth and allies, hosted two workshops and was a camp counselor.

Alexander was also an intern in both Reps. Kelly Cassidy's and Ann Williams' offices, where he primarily interacted with constituents to navigate state agencies on their behalf. He called these experiences "transformative" and said, "It was eye-opening to see how much we rely on the government for vital services, and how important it is that those services run smoothly."

"This last semester, I got to sit in on some meetings about the recreational cannabis bill when I interned with Cassidy, and I am so proud to have been able to provide support to her office as that massive bill was moved through the legislature and most recently signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker," said Alexander.

Alexander has been an Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group member since October 2016. He participates in monthly conference calls, volunteers at events and attends legislative advocacy days in Springfield. Recently, Alexander was at the Equality Illinois Springfield Pride Fest booth doing a petition drive for the LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum bill and gender neutral single-stall bathrooms.

For the past year, Alexander has also served as a member of Rep. Robin Kelly's LGBTQ round table where he attends meeting and gives Kelly feedback on ways she can best support the LGBTQ community.

Last year, Alexander was named one of this publication's 30 Under 30 award recipients.

Alexander carves out time to watch political theory video essays on the internet, dramas on Netflix and infotainment comedy shows. He also loves to paint, write, explore Sangamon County and lounge around with his dog Millie.

Alexander's message to everyone is, "Say yes when opportunities arise, even if you are scared or unsure where they will lead."

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.


Gay News

Lightfoot introduces LGBT business resolution 2019-09-18 - On Sept. 18, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot introduced a resolution acknowledging LGBT-owned business enterprises ( LGBTBEs ) and their contributions to Chicago's ...

Gay News

Trump's Proposed Attack on LGBTQ Federal Contract Workers draws 10,000+ comments 2019-09-18 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil ...

Gay News

Post debate analysis: Buttigieg has staying power 2019-09-18 - No LGBT-specific issues came up during the third national Democratic presidential debate Sept. 12. That, and the fact that LGBT issues have been ...

Gay News

Candace Gingrich joins cannabis 'Revolution' 2019-09-18 - In July, medical cannabis provider Revolution Enterprises appointed LGBTQ+ activist Candace Gingrich as Vice President of Business Relations for the company's Florida operation. ...

Gay News

LGBTQ Victory Fund brunch Sept. 22 2019-09-18 - LGBTQ Victory Fund's annual Chicago Champagne Brunch will take place Sunday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Chez Chicago, 247 E. Ontario St. ...

Gay News

Panelists discuss trans physician cultural competency 2019-09-18 - A panel of Chicagoans—all of them members of the city's transgender community—gathered at Malcom X College Sept. 13 to discuss the availability and ...

Gay News

LGBTQ center kicks off local chapter with economic justice summit 2019-09-18 - With a vision to build a queer and trans movement for economic justice, the National LGBTQ Workers Center organized Chicago's LGBTQ Economic Justice ...

Gay News

Activists halt U.S. Conference on AIDS to protest CDC 2019-09-18 - Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) surely saw it coming. Protests are part ...

Gay News

BOOKS Former NFL player talks football, politics and Madonna 2019-09-18 - Ryan O'Callaghan made headlines two years ago when the former NFL defensive tackle came out as gay, making him one of the league's ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Trans officer dies, James Baldwin, Edmund White, Trevor Project 2019-09-17 - Sgt. Tomi Finkle—who transitioned as a transgender woman after a 25-year career as a U.S. Capitol Police officer and, in retirement, served as ...


Copyright © 2019 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.







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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.