JJ Marie Gufreda
JJ Marie Gufreda (JJ) is the author of Left-Hander in London: A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals - In the Family, On the Job and In the Pew and is a playwright and performer. Her new productions are, Left-Hander in London – The Earthquake and Left-Hander in London – The Cabaret. JJ is the former President of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and is a frequent speaker on Diversity, Society and Political issues. She is the President of GEI and has been in consulting for over thirty years working with companies in many industries - from small family owned businesses to multinational Fortune 50 firms. JJ previously worked in manufacturing management and taught Operations Management and Organizational Behavior to undergraduates and graduate students. JJ has been married for forty years and has three children and four grandchildren.
A Bit More About Me:
I was raised in a Sicilian/Italian – American household in Cleveland. The old me, (who I commonly refer to as “my evil twin brother!”) had a “normal” childhood playing sports, hanging out with friends, going to school, serving as an altar boy and, as I grew older, dating girls. But from early on I knew I was different from the other boys: In secret I liked to dress in women’s clothes.
I didn’t see things like other guys. Something was out of whack. I felt like the machine was working, but the gears, or the lubricant or something, just wasn’t right. I didn’t know what it was - questioning your gender identity wasn’t something that anyone I knew ever thought about. I was sure that I could never share my secret. I hid and suppressed the feelings that I held below the surface.
Because of a lack of information about transgender people in that era, I was confused about what my leanings meant. Why did I think about feminine things? Was I one of a kind? Why was I different? It wasn’t until I discovered a book about transgender people in a college library that I began the journey to change genders. It took several years, but I finally figured it out.
Today, I am still a Christian even though I stopped going to a church, a loving spouse and parent of three children and “Nonna” to four grandchildren, a businessperson, serving the past 20 years as President of GEI Inc., an Operations and Process Improvement and Diversity Consulting firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was the President of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce for six years and I’ve spoken about diversity at several companies, churches, and organizations. I have been a frequent LGBT advocate at the Indiana Statehouse.
JJ captured the evolution from Joe to JJ Marie in her book Left-Hander in London - A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals In the Family, On the Job and In the Pew. The book traces her journey, from sharing gender secrets with her wife to dressing as a woman at home and a man everywhere else to telling her family, friends and business associates that she was becoming a woman.
Most recently, she wrote and performed a play, Left-Hander in London: The Earthquake, that takes the audience through her journey. Riddled with humor and peppered with Gufreda’s surprising stories, it’s another way to see just what it means when an ordinary Joe becomes a Jane.