By Jackie Lance | Community Support Facilitator & DEI member at Hope Services

As we approach the end of another year, ease into a new social norm, and strive to survive a pandemic for which we had no real preparation or control over, my thoughts go to the ones who have lost a loved one due to the virus.

I then turn my thought to the victims of the Q Club in Colorado: this beautiful community of people. People with talent, who are fearless and give not only to their own community but to the world. 

I also think of those who have lost their lives in hate crimes due to discrimination against their race, religion, color, culture or disability; and it’s heartbreaking to know that their families will be celebrating another year without them due to another person’s heartless decision.

The world is ever changing, and we as people have the power to make it healthy, welcoming and productive.

As I continue to educate myself, I recently read from an article titled “An Epidemic of Violence 2022” that called for unity, acceptance, and the value of human life. I read about 36 talented people ranging in age from 18 to 50 years, and the horrible violence endured due to disregard for human life or another’s Freedom of Choice.

I read from a woman who stated just this year we have seen 32 plus transgender and gender non-conforming people killed and threated simply because of who they are. There are people who are harassed at their place of employment, school, military, and on social media due to stigma and judgment surround their personal choice. Rather, we must all grow to a place of understanding and acceptance of one another. Educating ourselves, empowering one another, and valuing differences in personal identity, including gender, race, color, culture, and disability. 

Just imagine how another person’s life can help us build much stronger communities and places of employment.

I have had the pleasure of working with a client whose desire was for gender transition. We will call him “E”.  I remember when “E” first came to our program, he was so nervous. As “E” was being introduced to 30 other clients, they each went around the room introduced themselves telling “E” about their hobbies, passions, and favorite foods or movies. 

Our clients showed acceptance, respect, and kindness for “E”, and I feel we can learn something from this. Before “E” came to our program, my manager sat with our group of 30 individuals and explained the gender “E” preferred to be identified as. Some had questions and others just were excited to have a new person in our midst. The entire group displayed the qualities that we as a collective people need to build, if we are to live in harmony together.

Our world is diverse and evolving. It demands our effort to educate ourselves and embrace the change around us, for the future generations to come. It is my hope that we can put down our weapons and fight instead toward a shared goal: peace, unity, and the freedom of choice and expression. We will all be better for it.

About the writer

Jackie Lance (she/her/hers) has been employed at Hope Services for over 15 years, and has worked across the organization in Independent Living Services, Supported Employment, and now in Direct Services as a Community Support Facilitator. She is also a member of Hope Services’ DEI committee and is passionate about teaching the individuals she serves about healthy relationships, work ethics, and social skills.