Social Worker | Writer | Educator | Activist
Bachelor’s of Science in Human Ecology;
Human Development & Family Sciences,
specializing in Family Studies
The Ohio State University
Masters of Social Work
Licensed Master Social Worker (New York, US)
Licensed Social Worker (Ohio, US)
Kristen Marie (Kryss) Shane is not just another gal from the States, she is a woman with the conviction to speak up for equality for all, and I mean ALL sections of the community. She is the gal who believes in Equality for All, not just for the ‘effective writing’ or ‘moving speech’ but in her true believes and actions. She sends the message of standing up and to ‘SPEAK UP’ loud and clear.
Not only you can see the passion in her eyes but every friend of Kryss who we contacted was more than willing to vouch for her strength and passion for equality and compassion for an equal and cared community all around. Kryss is the hope for those who believe there are not enough Straight people in this world who care for equality. With people like Kryss around, you can believe in Total Equality becoming a reality sooner than later and you can believe in a positive future of humanity!
Without further ado, I present to you Kryss Shane!
Max: Hi Kryss, how are you today?
Kryss: I’m well! I’m excited to be talking with you!
Max: I am thrilled as well to interview you – in my eyes you are a hero and such an inspiring person. What’s your secret?
Kryss: A hero?! That seems like something true for Batman or one of my awesome friends, not about me!
Max: No seriously, with your background and all what you do, you’re an inspiration to live one’s life better.
Kryss: You’re far too kind! When I think of words like “hero” or “inspiration,” I think about my trans[sexual] friends who have risked their careers/families/lives to live as they truly are. I think about the parents of my trans youth friends who didn’t get what they expected from a child but embraced it and have become advocates. I think about everyone in the LGBT history who has been killed for their beliefs. My living daily in support of these folks seems to be the least a person should do; to acknowledge the awesomeness of others!
“She is one of those people who bless your life with support and a kick in the pants when needed. She jumps on board to any project where she sees a need and is always ready to lend a hand. Her passion for helping others and her drive for success is what makes her such as asset to any company and any friendship. I have been lucky enough to benefit from both.”
— Nicole Uveges-Bartolozzi (Owner Moments by Cole Photography, Ohio)
Max: Let’s start with the serious interrogations. Can you please tell us about your personal background and how you came to become such a major player in the Equality Movement?
Kryss: Sure! I was born in Iowa but grew up in a small town in Northeast Ohio, though I’d spent some time in South Florida and in Nashville, Tennessee. I hadn’t met an LGBTQ person (that I knew of) when I first heard the music from the Broadway show RENT in 1998, when it was performed by my high school’s show choir. It got me to thinking about how I might have reacted and behaved had “Angel” (a transwoman character in the musical) been a classmate of mine.
The idea that I might not have been welcoming and might then have missed out on getting to know her really affected me and led me to begin to learn more about the LGBTQ population, which led to learning about the massive injustices she and other trans people face. Beginning to volunteer meant meeting LGBTQ people, which strengthened my resolve and belief in the need for equality since I was now picturing friends’ faces and lives being altered or ruined, and it just sort of grew from there!
Max: There is a big step from being a volunteer and embrace it as a career. When did you decided to engage yourself completely in this equality mission?
Kryss: Not for me, to be very honest. I was volunteering and thus surrounding myself with these incredible people. I’ve never been one who could see something I feel is wrong and just keep going, it’s something internal that requires me to do what I’m able to make things right. After volunteering through high school and while earning my undergraduate degree, it just made sense to me to turn what I was doing for free on a tiny scale into doing something on a larger scale and, if I am lucky enough to be financially paid for that work along the way, all the better. I word it that way because I have been emotionally paid a million times over throughout the years, with the friendship and love of others who stand with me in this battle for equality.
Max: You are the living example that when we believe in what we do, in the rightness of it, we just don’t see it as something big. But believe me, the work you’re doing makes all the difference.
Your portfolio shows that you are a Social Worker, Writer, Educator, and an Activist : that’s a lot of titles for one person. How do you manage or do you have some secret clones people don’t know of?
Kryss: It sounds like more on the paper than it feels like to me. It’s all really one big career as an activist, if you want to know the secret. As an activist though, I understand that there are so many avenues of the equality movement and I guess I’ve just always wanted to have a hand in each of those metaphoric pots.
For example, I became a Licensed Social Worker because that allows me to counsel and work with LGBTQ people and their families. I am an educator because I go to the businesses, universities, and others groups and teach them how to make their organizations and lives more inclusive of the needs specific to LGBTQ people.
I have always been a writer. I’ve kept a journal almost daily since I was about 13. It’s something that comes more naturally to me than most anything. As someone so immersed in the LGBTQ community, I couldn’t help but to write about those experiences as well. So I suppose there’s a longer title on my business cards than most have, but in my mind, it’s really all different facets of the same work.
“Kryss is a passionate, dedicated and all-around amazing person. She dedicates her entire life to helping and supporting those in need. She cares so deeply about equality for all people and as such, she devotes her time to marching on the front line of any cause to demand equal treatment for all humans. In addition, she will take any amount of time needed to help someone in their personal life or when life is really tough on them. What most impresses me about Kryss is that she does all this from the compassion in her heart and soul without ever needing a thank you or any acknowledgement. Kryss is one of those star persons who help so many and, in so doing so, makes our world a remarkable and better place.”
Max: What you do is admirable, but do you face any challenges as an ‘outsider’ of the LGBTQ community? Do you get extra respect or resistance from the community itself?
Kryss: The mention of my orientation or gender identity (I am cisgender) is always a bit tricky for me. On one hand, I do not hide that I am a straight woman and I think it’s important for LGBTQ people to see that straight cisgender people stand with them. On the other, I think that it’s important not to differentiate too much, as if being born this way puts me in a different category or as somehow separate from someone who is LGBTQ. It’s often assumed that I must be gay or trans to care so deeply about the Equality Movement and my first response is always to ask someone why they wish to know my orientation or gender identity because that for me, is more important.
Sometimes this means the person doesn’t get my answer, doesn’t learn my sexual or gender identity and maybe that means they assume I am something I’m not, in that sense. But I don’t feel any need to correct anyone who presumes; why be offended by something that’s not offensive? I do, however, find that it’s an interesting dialogue to have; discussing why someone whom people think isn’t directly affected by a specific injustice would be fighting so hard for it.
My answer? Because I -am- directly affected. So are you. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s not about whether I can legally marry, for example, it’s about why I’d be content in a world where I get to do something you don’t, simply because I happened to have been born straight and you happened to have been born gay. I really believe that, had I been born in the generation before mine, I’d have been marching for racial equality and, before that; I’d have marched for women’s right to vote. It’s as natural to me as anything else in my life. It just is.
Max: Can I marry you? I mean you’ve just said it all! Tell us how do you go about your work for Equality and supporting people? What does it involve?
Kryss: Haha, is that a real proposal?! I’ve met with people of all different age ranges, races, backgrounds, and any other difference you can imagine. Some I’ve met whenever I got invited by a supervisor or professor to speak at their company meetings or in their classrooms, some I’ve met at political events, and some are folks who have stopped me on the street.
I can tell you that my car has been called the “Equality Mobile.” With its license plate “EQALTY” and stickers promoting love, it often gets me noticed in parking lots. I’ve found that most of the commentary comes from folks who are uneducated in this specific issue or those who were taught incorrect information.
So many times, the feedback I get after one of my “LGBT 101” presentation is that folks who have never given this issue a second thought are now aware of the difficulties LGBTQ people, as well as people who are intersex, face and they’re telling me that they will share the information among other colleagues or in their personal lives.
On the other side though, there are those who truly believe I am wrong just as strongly as I believe this is right and who speak up about this during or after a presentation. As long as they are respectful, I never mind those people. They keep me on my toes and they require me to be as well-educated as possible so that I may counter their arguments.
Do they walk away from the latter type of conversation changed? Rarely! But if they give their beliefs a second or third thought, it’s worth it to me. I have no problem with folks whose opinions and beliefs differ from mine; in fact, I find it one of the best parts of life, these differences. The problem for me is when someone’s belief system prevents equal laws or rights for everyone or when the person believes it is acceptable to invoke violence on others.
Max: It must be some experience though. You have to be very tough to take some unpleasant commentaries. Do you think that your position of LGBTQ ally gives you a better position for talking with them, that they will at least allow you to express your opinions?
Kryss: I don’t think that being an LGBTQ ally (someone who is pro-equality) or an LGBTQ activist (someone who actively works to promote change) gives me a better platform, but I believe that being a straight cisgender woman does. In my experience, folks who are strongly anti-LGBT often have a stereotypical opinion of what an LGBT person looks like, sounds like, says, or does. Most with such prejudices don’t have personal relationships with LGBT people, so their expectations come from the media.
Sure, there are the Jack McFarlands of the world (a flamboyant gay character on the sitcom “Will & Grace”) but there are also plenty of gay men, for example, who are very masculine men who just so happen to also be gay. If I am able to introduce that idea to such folks, to encourage the idea that a person doesn’t have to look or act a certain way to believe this way, it sometimes plants a seed of thought into those who have overlooked the issue because they don’t think it affects them. Sometimes too, not being seen as a person with a personal stake in this issue causes others to give stronger consideration to my words, if only because it appears to be less biased to them.
“The first time I met Kryss, I remember being surprised and a bit overwhelmed with the energy and exuberance of such a small slip of a girl. Five minutes into our first conversation, I adored her; she became one of my closest friends, and has stayed that way for the past eleven years. She has this amazing ability to make you laugh, particularly at yourself, which we all need. She is extremely supportive and fiercely loyal to those whom she loves. She has a kind heart and gentle soul, overflowing with love and compassion. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to know Kryss and to be able to call her my friend. I wouldn’t trade her for all of the cheese in the world.”
— Blair Norris
Max: In the recent news, we have heard Florida Senator Jennifer Carroll making a stereotypical comment about what a black lesbian should look like. I’d like to ask you your opinion, not about all the discussion around the question of whether she should apologize, but about what she has said, the way she expresses her ignorance on this topic.
Kryss: Honestly, I’m sad for her. I completed my Master’s degree in Florida and participated in Lobby Day 2010 there, when it was still illegal for gay couples to adopt. Unfortunately, decades after the rein of Anita Bryant, Florida is still a bit behind the times when it comes to LGBT education.
Senator Carroll’s comment really differentiated between having a different view and lacking basic knowledge on this topic. As most of us do know (and all of us should know), a lesbian doesn’t look or speak or do anything any different than a straight woman… except in her romantic life.
Max: The Huffington Post asked lesbian women to send her photographs of themselves and give an actual representation of what a lesbian looks like. Do you think this kind of answer is adequate?
Kryss: Absolutely. Although it’s important (and imperative) to change the minds of ignorant politicians, it is crucial that we work to do so in a way that is non-threatening and non-combative. Do I sometimes want to yell and scream at those who say such hurtful and incorrect things? Sure, I think we all do. But I know that the politician is a human and that the human brain is literally incapable of being open and able to absorb information while its feeling threatened. We don’t need someone in office to feel afraid; we need someone in office who becomes enlightened.
Max: I want to take a quote you have on your Facebook profile: “Jean likes girls instead of boys. Some people prefer cats instead of dogs. I’d rather live with a lesbian then a cat” a quote from the character Sophia Petrullo, from the 1980s-1990s tv show “Golden Girls.” I am curious as to why you have that posted!
Kryss: I have that quote up because it’s one of my absolute favorites, as spoken in the 1980s by a woman in her 80s who was living in Florida while Anita Bryant was regularly on her television. It gives me great hope for folks who are living in today’s world, with full access to the internet and to other educational materials that promote equality!
I also have framed autographs from each of the 4 Golden Girls, which hang on my office wall. The show will always be one of my very favorite things in life!
Max: Kryss, as a social worker, what is the biggest challenge you face, when dealing with an LGBTQ client? Does it ever get to you?
Kryss: I think the biggest challenge for anyone working with a person in the LGBTQ is the rampant homophobia in our homes, schools, and country. Knowing that they don’t receive the same rights or protections that others do makes it very difficult not to end up with a great deal of internalized homophobia. Does it get to me? Of course it does, but I use those feelings of stress and anger to propel myself into more advocacy work, it helps fuel me to keep doing all I’m able to help the changes happen. I also try to surround myself with supportive people who don’t mind giving me extra love, support, and junk food on the rougher days!
Max: Our team at 3S1, Incorporate is thrilled to interview you for our Online Magazine ‘the Urban Men, Worldwide’. We’d love to know more about your current projects and are they are therapy related or there is more since you are so versatile.
Kryss: I’m thrilled to have been interviewed, thank you! As for what I’m up to, I have a few things going on… I’m frequently updating my blog www.voicingequality.org with the latest LGBT news and my personal experiences as I participate in Prides, Marches, and other LGBT focused events, I’m consistently professionally reviewing books on drugs and LGBT people, on transyouth, and on transadolescents for The New Social Worker Magazine, and am always open to new opportunities to publish in other places. I’m also continuing to work as a licensed social worker… right now, I’m in the process of researching grants to allow myself the financial backing to have the opportunity to provide the best to the low income students I work with in an inner city charter school setting.
Max: Kryss, what you are doing is an amazing work and I feel as if you can contribute a lot more every single day of your life than most people do in a month. I’ve noticed over the weeks you are very active on Social Media, do you think it has added value to your work as a social worker?
Kryss: Certainly! I think social networking is a great way to get to know and to keep in touch with others! I love adding to my blog and am always happy to get new readers, especially when they comment and a dialogue happens between readers! I’m also sometimes emailed and asked to give guidance, advice, or life coaching assistance via Skype, which has been a wonderful way to work with people on an international level without either of us leaving the comforts of home!
Max: Wow, that means you can actually help people beyond the geographical boundaries. This makes me wonder if you’d be interested in offering some initial guidance and support to our audience, as we do often get many people writing in with issues and asking for help.
Kryss: While some aspects of social work are limited because Skype doesn’t provide the confidentiality that our licensing board requires, guidance, life coaching and advice-giving are certainly an option, whether one-on-one or done via your website on a more general level.
Max: That is great, I will certainly talk to our board to see if we can make this happen, but before we go, is there a message you have for the youth out there, LGBTQ… or Straight for that matter?
Kryss: I think the biggest message for everyone is exactly what’s on my business card: “Speak Up!” Silence is never the answer. I’d much rather us get loud about the lack of equality and the need for legal changes now than for us to stand in a moment of silence for another LGBT person lost due to a lack of love and support later.
Max: This has been an amazing interview and thank you for your time and fantastic company; it was good to have you with us.
Kryss: Thank you!
Max was born in South Switzerland, in the Italian Speaking region, Max is proud of his Swiss and Italian origins and the exotic diplomacy he can throw around with a big smile. He loves exploring people’s lives, interviewing them and writing about their experiences. He is also a self confessed Social Media addict and a Journalist with a cause.
End Youth Homelessness
Michael Dean asks
Latest Urban Conversation
- Support Team Angelic – AIDS Awareness
- A Colourful Change Is Coming!
- Support Stevie | Support Youth
- Super Storm Sandy | Community
- Sandy Relief / Information Form
- Meet Your Coach | Kryss
- 30 Postcards in Israel | Traveler
- AIDS Walk | Thanks Note
- Our World post 9/11 | Community
- 9/11 – Then & Now | Dedication
- Featured Talent – Kryss Shane
- Rebirth of Outlook.com | Technology
- Jay 4 Integrity | Charity | Community
- Urban Digital | Vol. 1 Ed. 1
- AIDS Walk | Kim Cota
- NYC Pride 2012 | NYC | LGBTIQ
- Indian Adventure | 30 Postcards
- Don’t Suicide | Reach Out
- Tyrell Witherspoon | Featured Artist
- the Urban Tale | Funny & Unfunny
- Kristian Johns | Birthday | Charity
- Featured – Kryss Shane | Photo Gallery
- Rapid Fire – Kryss Shane
- RONNIE KROELL | Price IS Right
- Justin Weller | ‘Face of Village Cinema’
- You, 30 Seconds & A Dream Come True
- Your Vote Matters!
- Kevin Richberg | 30 Postcard Project
- CEO Special – Kevin Richberg
- CEO Special – Stevie T’s Interview
- 30 Postcards, 30 Stories
- 30 Postcards, 30 Stories
Kevin Richberg visits India
Technology – Breaking News