Fair Wisconsin honorees draw cheers, a few tears

The “top top surgeon,” as he was affectionately labeled, was honored for his commitment to gender-affirming surgery at Fair Wisconsin’s 2017 Gala Dinner and Leadership Awards. Dr. Clifford King, M.D., a Madison-based plastic surgeon, received the organization’s Community Leadership Award at the Feb. 25 event, which drew an enthusiastic crowd of 175 to the downtown Marriott.

King moved many to tears with his acceptance speech, telling the audience his dedication to chest surgery for trans persons — both male-to-female and female-to male — grew from a deep sense of regret that he had not done more as
a busy young doctor-in-training to support a dear friend dying of AIDS.

Kathy Flores, statewide LGBTQ anti-violence coordinator for Diverse & Resilient, introduced King by reading letters from patients.

Fair Wisconsin
At the Wisconsin LGBTQ Summit, Diverse & Resilient CEO Gerry Coon, second from right, confers with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin CEO Tanya Atkinson and state Reps. Jocasta Zamarripa and Mark Spreitzer.

Wrote one, “Prior to my surgery … I bound my chest tightly every day for over a decade, which in effect bound my spirit.
Since my surgery, every day — multiple times a day — I notice my chest and smile inside and out. Sometimes I get choked up with gratitude and relief. I’m grateful to Dr. King for making my dream a reality and doing so in such a tender, respectful way and with such skill.”

The audience responded with a lengthy standing ovation for King.

Also receiving lots of love were the evening’s other two honorees — Proud Theater, heralded as the Organization of the Year, and the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition, which received the Tammy Baldwin Statewide Impact Award.

Sarah McBride, who made history as the first trans person to address a national political convention when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, was the keynote speaker.

The annual gala raises funds for the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund.

Executive director Megin McDonell accepted one of the largest gifts in the organization’s history — $50,000 — from

Sarah McBride made history as the first trans person to address a national political convention when she spoke at the DNC.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a longtime supporter of Fair Wisconsin and other LGBTQ organizations and causes.

Northwestern Mutual was the lead sponsor of the gala and the Wisconsin LGBTQ Summit that preceded the affair. Co-sponsored by Diverse & Resilient and Fair Wisconsin, the summit drew a sellout crowd of 225 to the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel for speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions. Tom Guay, Northwestern Mutual vice president and executive sponsor of the company’s LGBTA employee resource group, lauded Fair Wisconsin for its work.

Earlier in the day, Erich Krueger and Wendy Slusar-Mischler, chair and vicechair of the employee resource group, represented Northwestern Mutual at the summit. For three years running, the company has received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign in recognition of its efforts to promote LGBT inclusion.

LGBT Chamber set for women’s leadership luncheon

Erika Baurecht, attorney at Husch Blackwell and passionate LGBT advocate, will speak on “The Power of Unapologetic Visibility” at the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon March 29 at The Garden, 725 N. Milwaukee St. Tickets are $25 for members and $35 for non-members. For more information, visit wislgbtchamber.com.

The inside scoop on how the CIA became more inclusive

Admission is free April 5 to a special screening at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, of ANGLE of Ascent, an intriguing documentary that examines the individual leadership that it took to change the internal culture of the CIA to one that embraces diversity and inclusion, especially following a 1995 executive order stating members of the LGBT community could no longer be denied security clearances. Sponsored by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the 5:30 p.m. showing of the short film created by the CIA will be followed by an evening social. For more information visit wislgbtchamber.com.