I’m proud to say it: this person supports everyone

Supporting a positive initiative like Open For Service gives me a productive way to take a stand against those that would discriminate based on appearance, perception, or labels rather than accept my hard earned dollar in exchange for the product or service they offer.
— Kyle Graden

Why do I support Open For Service? The answer may seems simple at first, but the complexities of what that means grow with each passing day. When I’m walking through town  looking for a something to eat or a quiet place to work, I typically have my guard up. You see, I’m gender non-conforming, which means my behavior and/or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to the gender I was assigned at birth. With a purse thrown over my shoulder, my nails painted, and the inevitable five o’clock shadow rolling in, I’m hyperaware of my “otherness”.

But as soon as I see the Open For Sticker, I instantly feel at ease. I know whatever business I am about to enter will serve me and, although they may not automatically know how I prefer to be addressed, I at least know their heart is in the right place.

Growing up with a spirit that had more femininity than masculinity, I experienced a lot of bullying, both physical, verbal, and online. This kind of hate is becoming far too normalized in our country and it can be overwhelming to feel so powerless in stopping it. Supporting a positive initiative like Open For Service gives me a productive way to take a stand against those that would discriminate based on appearance, perception, or labels rather than accept my hard earned dollar in exchange for the product or service they offer.

I refuse to go back into the proverbial closest out of fear how I may be treated. I refuse to spend my time and attention focusing on which business to boycott. I refuse to let outside negativity bring me down. Instead, I choose to show up. I choose to support the places that support me and all of my friends. I choose to live free.

I was born in Indianapolis and am extremely proud to have watched the community come together to amplify the mission of Open For Service. However, I know Indianapolis isn’t the only place that has the courage to defend the justice of the masses that a few would dare take away. My family recently relocated to small town Georgia and I have been pleasantly surprised by the acceptance I’ve experienced, so I know there are more welcoming places and people in this great nation.

I’m excited to officially join the Open For Service team as the new Director of Community Engagement and Education help our community of business continually strive for full inclusion. Right now, we are seeking stories from people like you to share why you've registered for the Open For Service directory and are committed to serving everyone.

Share your story - you'll be making a huge difference!