By C. Michael Woodward
Founded by the late transgender activist Alexander John Goodrum, TGNet Arizona began as an informational resource for, by and about the transgender community of Arizona.
Built around the ground-breaking document Gender Identity 101: A Transgender Primer, TGNet Arizona ONLINE debuted in June 2000. It soon became clear that the distribution of information on transgender issues was only a start – that more direct advocacy and education services were needed — particularly in the areas of employment and health.
In December 2000, TGNet Arizona requested, and received, the fiscal sponsorship of Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. For the next several months, Alexander raised more than $35,000 and worked tirelessly to develop resources and programs for the community.
TGNet Arizona works to end discrimination against anyone on the basis of gender, gender identity, and gender expression in employment, social services and health care, the legal system, and other areas. Through our advocacy and educational programs, we seek to identify, create and strengthen the resources available to transgender, transsexual and gender-variant people and their significant others, friends, families and allies as they become actively engaged in their lives and in the lives of their communities.
TGNet Arizona is committed to the values of equality, parity, and to increasing the quality of life and economic advancement of all people regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, familial status or marital status. We believe this vision is not only possible, but also necessary. In what we do, we strive to make such a vision a reality.
In fall of 2001, TGNet Arizona held its first fund-raising and community outreach event by producing a local screening of the film “Southern Comfort”, which documents the final months in the life of Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual from rural Georgia who died of ovarian cancer after being refused treatment by more than 20 doctors. In addition to the film, the event featured three speakers (Amanda Simpson, Meredith Trauner, and Michael Woodward) as well as moving and insightful remarks by Alexander.
TGNet Arizona’s greatest achievement was the development of the Arizona Transgender Workplace (ATWORK) Project. The ATWORK Project is the first of its kind in the world. The project’s goal is to create and foster open, inclusive, and safe working environments for transgender applicants and employees by promoting an understanding of gender identity and expression among managers and supervisory personnel. Launched on August 5, 2002, the ATWORK Project brings together representatives from companies all over Arizona for an enlightening, informative presentation on transgender issues and how they impact the workplace. As of July 2003, six such seminars have been held, and more are planned for the near future.
Although he was an outstanding leader and highly effective advocate for the transgender community, Goodrum suffered all of his adult life from severe depression, Bipolar 2 Disorder, and substance abuse issues. Shortly after the first ATWORK seminar was held, Alexander checked himself into a local mental health facility seeking help. In the early morning hours of September 28, 2002, Alexander took his own life while under suicide watch. This incident received attention from local and national media as well as GLBT organizations nationwide. The wrongful death lawsuit brought by Goodrum’s mother against the facility was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. She also had to fight to get his birth certificate issued with the correct gender marker.
In January 2003, TGNet Arizona officially merged with SAGA. All programs and projects of TGNet Arizona are now under the SAGA umbrella, including the ATWORK Project.