LBTQ Civic Leaders

06/25/2015 03:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2016

Transgender has entered the mainstream of public awareness through Caitlyn Jenner. That is a good thing. But public awareness of a reality star's life as shown in the pages of Vanity Fair doesn't translate to public acceptance for those who don't live the unreal life of a reality star. Thanks to Caitlyn no one can now say they don't know (of) a transgender person. Knowledge is a first step to understanding and understanding can be a step to acceptance. But those are very huge steps and they certainly haven't been taken yet. And until they are, there is much work to be done to serve the LGBTQ community.

June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Pride Month. We at Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) have been at the forefront in supporting women in the Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LBTQ) community through our LBTQ Giving Council and other grantees. The LBTQ Giving Council, under the umbrella of CFW, is a group that brings together a network of philanthropists and leaders to focus grantmaking and advocacy work for the LBTQ community. The LBTQ's Lavender Fund is the only grantmaking entity in Chicago that provides grants exclusively to LBTQ communities. The Lavender Fund has a special focus on women and girls' access to healthcare and information, freedom from violence and economic security. Not only does the LBTQ Giving Council provide grants and advocate for the LBTQ community, it also provides leadership development, educational programming and networking opportunities. The LBTQ Giving Council is helping develop the next generation of civic leaders not only for the LBTQ community, but also for our city.

CFW also supports the work of Chicago Women's Health Center. Founded in 1975, it is the longest-operating women's health collective in the United States. It provides women and transgender people with gynecological care, alternative insemination services, health education, acupuncture and counseling services. The Chicago Women's Health Center provides these services in a respectful and safe environment.

Another CFW grantee is Chicago House and Social Service Agency TransWorks. This grantee has developed a program that combines the established expertise of Chicago House's employment program with the TransLife Center's work in assisting those who are nonconforming to traditional gender bounds. This program's focus is to address specific barriers to entry in the workplace, particularly for transgender women of color.

Identifying the evolving needs of all gender identified women in Chicago has been part of CFW's history for nearly 30 years. Before Caitlyn, we were taking informed, but bold risks in assisting those communities that are often overlooked and underserved. Thanks, Caitlyn, maybe you'll make our real world work a little easier.