• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 15s

Meet Drew Phoenix, Identity Inc.’s new executive director

By KTVA Alaska 2:08 PM January 18, 2014

One of Alaska's leading advocacy organizations for the GLBT community has a new leader with an incredible story.

ANCHORAGE – Reverend, community leader, advocate and spiritual guide are just a few titles Drew Phoenix has held. Starting Monday, he’ll add executive director of Identity, Inc. to that list.

“This position, like no other I’ve ever had, really brings together my identity — I’m a transgender male, along with my passion for equality and diversity,” Phoenix said.

Equality and diversity are things that Identity Inc., one of Alaska’s leading gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations, stands for.

“Identity is a place to celebrate your gender identity,” Phoenix said.

Phoenix said it took nearly 40 years of sadness, anger and disconnect to finally get to a place where he would find his own true identity.

“For a long time I didn’t feel like my mind, body and spirit were at one or whole,” he said.

Drew was born female. His parents named him Anne. But Drew always knew that name, that gender, just didn’t fit.

“I describe it as a feeling of homelessness,” Phoenix said.  “Of not being at home in my body. Ya know, looking at a mirror and thinking, ‘That’s not who I am. That’s not how I see myself.'”

Despite Phoenix’s internal conflict, for four decades he lived as Anne, exercising his faith in the United Methodist Church and becoming an ordained minister in Maryland.

“I served local churches for over 21 years, but in 2008 I made the decision to come here to Alaska,” Phoenix said.

The decision to move some 4,000 miles across the country wasn’t easy, he said, but necessary. It was a new start for Phoenix after making a very intimate life-altering decision public.

After thinking long and hard, praying and consulting with church leaders, Phoenix decided it was time to transition from female to male.

“Those of us who are religious or spiritual or both are all on spiritual journeys,” Phoenix said. “For me, the spiritual journey is about integration.”

In 2007, Phoenix came out to a crowd of thousands. He shared that he’d be transitioning from Anne Gordon to Drew Phoenix. A name he chose that couldn’t be more fitting — Phoenix, the mythical bird that dies and rises out from its ashes.

“That’s what I’ve done,” Phoenix said. “I’ve really remade myself.”

In his new identity, Drew said he finally felt like he had found a home.

“Since transitioning, spiritually, mentally, physically, I am at one,” he said. “For the first time in my life.”

Identity co-chair Anne Marie Moylan said Phoenix’s journey, ability to overcome his own personal struggles and passion for the GLBT community made him a shoo-in for Identity’s executive director position.

“Drew was a standout,” Moylan said. “He went above and beyond and brought heart and soul and imagination and the ability to follow through.”

Outgoing executive director Phyllis Rhodes agreed.

“When I announced that I would be retiring, I said that we needed somebody who had a passion for what we’re doing,” Rhodes said. “He has that passion and that’s the number one thing. He is going to step in and leap boldly into the future.”

A future that Phoenix believes his past has prepared him for.

“That’s why I take a leadership role in the church and here at Identity,” Phoenix said. “Because I don’t want the next generation to have to go through what I went through. I want an Anchorage and Alaska where we talk about gender identity and expression in our schools, where it’s not an issue for businesses where you can be fired or denied housing. That’s why I do what I do.”

Rhodes, the outgoing executive director for Identity Inc. held the position since 2005. Rhodes volunteered to fill the full time position and did so, for free, as a labor of love.

Rhodes said she couldn’t be more excited to hand the reins over to Drew Phoenix, who she hopes will advance the GLBT community in Alaska by leaps and bounds.

 

Latest Stories

  • News

    No fire hydrants near Eagle River house fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 10, 19:06

    More than two dozen firefighting apparatuses were dispatched to a large house fire in Eagle River Saturday evening. Of those, five were water tenders carrying water to the fire, which is in a location void of fire hydrants, according to Assistant Fire Chief Erich Scheunemann. Scheunemann said the first 911 calls came in at 5:18 […]

  • ‘Let justice take its course’: Southcentral Alaska reacts to new arrests in Grunwald murder

    by Eric Ruble on Dec 10, 17:46

    Downtown Palmer is a bright scene this time of year. Colorful lights line the storefronts as people go to and from Colony Christmas events. However, it is tough to go anywhere in the area without overhearing conversations about the death of 16-year-old David Grunwald. Authorities arrested four more teenagers in connection with Grunwald’s death Friday — […]

  • Sports

    UAA volleyball falls in national final

    by Dave Goldman on Dec 10, 16:10

    Last updated at 6:36 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 The run ended one short. After a magical ride, University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves volleyball team dropped a straight sets match in the Division II National Championship to top-ranked and top-seeded Concordia University St. Paul — 25-19, 25-12, 25-12 — at the Sanford Center in Sioux […]

  • Sports

    Army beats Navy 21-17 to end 14-year losing streak in series

    by David Ginsburg / AP Sports Writer on Dec 10, 14:48

    The U.S. Army ended a 14-year run of frustration against the U.S. Navy, using an overpowering running game and opportunistic defense to carve out a long overdue 21-17 victory Saturday. With future commander-in-chief Donald Trump looking on, the Black Knights blew a 14-point lead before quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a 9-yard run with 6:42 […]

  • Police: Suspect in Fred Meyer bank robbery caught in nearby mall

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 10, 14:43

    A man police say likely robbed a midtown bank Saturday afternoon has been taken into custody thanks to the help of an observant witness. The robbery was reported around 12:10 p.m. at the Alaska USA located inside the Northern Lights Boulevard Fred Meyer, police said in a statement. “It was reported to police that a […]

  • Troopers involved in shooting with suspect identified

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 10, 14:33

    On Saturday, Alaska State Troopers identified the officers involved in a Dec. 7 shooting that injured a suspect. The four troopers are Lt. Dane Gilmore, Sgt. Jeremy Grieme, Sgt. Michael Zweifel and David Lorring. All have several years of experience with the Alaska Department of Public Safety, according to an online trooper dispatch, and Gilmore […]

  • News

    Turkish minister: 29 killed, 166 wounded in twin bombings

    by KTVA / AP on Dec 10, 14:01

    Last updated at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says two blasts after an Istanbul soccer match killed have 29 people and wounded 166 others. The twin Saturday night bombings inflicted high casualties among police, killing 27 officers, as well as 2 civilians. In a address early Sunday, the minister said […]

  • Lifestyle

    Bristol Palin announces she is expecting her third child

    by Associated Press on Dec 10, 10:44

    Bristol Palin is expecting her third child, she tells Entertainment Tonight. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter announced her pregnancy on ET. She and husband Dakota Meyer said they are excited and “blessed” to welcome a baby in the spring. A Palin family spokesman declined to comment. Bristol Palin launched an abstinence campaign after giving […]