With over 350 members to date, Gender Benders boasts the largest transgender advocacy group in South Carolina. Co-Founder and Program Director Ivy Hill started the grassroots campaign to connect the trans* community.
Residing just outside Greenville with hir fiancé Misha, Ivy is driven by passion for all things equality. Hir work has given hir a platform from which to raise awareness and help soften hearts to the needs of transgender people. In 2014, ze received the Ryan Wilson Equality Award for outstanding advocacy for equality for the LGBT* community of South Carolina.
“Gender is not a box you can check, but rather a fill-in-the-blank question,” says Ivy.
Caroline Caldwell, the program team member who guided Ivy through the nomination process, shares that Ivy has a genuine, determined desire to help others understand. “Ze is an intriguing leader of inclusion and diversity, with the patience to educate and help us invite in the unfamiliar.”
TEDxGreenville Curator Lisa Marie Corley looks forward to Ivy’s message during the April 10 conference. “Ivy made it to the stage because gender conversations are still pretty new and a bit mind-blowing to many in South Carolina,” she says. “Certainly there aren’t a lot of us who’ve delved deeply into the topic, putting ourselves in the shoes of those who live it every day.”
Ivy recently accepted a new position as a marriage organizer for Campaign for Southern Equality, a grassroots organization headquartered in Asheville. In this new role, ze will organize vigils and town halls across the south in the days before and after the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on expanding the freedom to marry.
What were your thoughts the moment you found out you were nominated to speak at TEDxGreenville?
“I was incredibly excited to hear that I was nominated! As excited as I was, I was twice as nervous, and three times as grateful. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience than I would normally have the opportunity to talk to.”
Why is your idea important?
“My idea is important because the way we currently interact with gender is restrictive to a point of harm for transgender and gender non-conforming folks.”
What do you hope to inspire with your talk?
“I hope to help inspire a more inclusive Greenville—to help the audience question their gender assumptions, gender roles, and gender expectations, pronouns, and more. But above all else, I hope to equip folks with knowledge that can dispel their fear of the transgender and gender non-conforming community.”
Stay tuned for Ivy’s eye-opening message at the April 10th annual conference.