• 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

  • Lifestyle

    The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ folds its tent for good

    by CBS News on Apr 30, 10:12

    Faced with declining ticket sales, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — after juggling the numbers as best it could — is staging its final performance two weeks from today … which means that for anyone wanting to take one last look, there’s no time to lose. Lee Cowan reports: “Ladies and Gentleman, […]

  • Lifestyle

    Facebook acknowledges election manipulation

    by CBS News on Apr 29, 18:07

    Without saying the words “Russia,” “Hillary Clinton,” or “Donald Trump,” Facebook acknowledged Thursday for the first time what others have been saying for months. In a paper released by its security division, the company said “malicious actors” used the platform during the 2016 presidential election as part of a campaign “with the intent of harming […]

  • There’s a celestial trick to the latest postal stamp

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Apr 29, 18:04

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The U.S. Postal Service is going all out for this summer’s total solar eclipse, with a first-of-its kind stamp. Just touch the stamp with your finger, and the heat transforms the image of the blacked-out sun into the moon. Remove your finger, and the eclipse reappears. The trick is using temperature-sensitive […]

  • Lifestyle

    Citywide Cleanup Week begins in Anchorage

    by Eric Ruble on Apr 29, 18:02

    As temperatures in Southcentral warm, Anchorage’s snowpack is quickly dwindling. The melting snow leaves behind garbage – lots of it. For the forty-ninth year, Anchorage Citywide Cleanup Week aims to beautify the city before summer. The cleanup kicked off Saturday, with a particularly large group of volunteers picking up trash in Mountain View. “We haven’t […]

  • News

    12 hazing complaints since 2014 confirmed at Marine base

    by Associated Press on Apr 29, 17:42

    BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) – Officials at the Marine Corps’ training base in South Carolina say half of 24 hazing complaints investigated since 2014 have been confirmed. The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette reported Saturday that documents obtained through a public records request show the complaints involve all four of Parris Island’s training battalions. The […]

  • News

    China deports US citizen convicted of spying after 2 years in custody

    by CBS News on Apr 29, 17:33

    China has deported an American citizen who was convicted and sentenced on an espionage charge after she was held in custody for more than two years. A spokesman for the State Department confirmed to CBS News that the U.S. is aware Chinese authorities deported 45-year-old Sandy Phan-Gillis on Friday. The deportation follows a trial last […]

  • AST: Stolen weapon found in stolen car after pursuit

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 29, 17:06

    A report of a stolen car led troopers on a chase in Ninilchik Wednesday evening. Someone spotted the stolen car on the Sterling Highway and called it in. When troopers tried to stop the car, the driver refused and a pursuit ensued before coming to an end when the driver stopped the car on a […]

  • News

    Ice jam raising flood concern on Kuskokwim River

    by Melissa Frey on Apr 29, 16:39

    Many rivers in southern Alaska are in the process of breaking-up. The first ice jam reported this season could cause flooding near Red Devil. The Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center reported the ice jam on the Kuskokwim River Saturday. They say the ice broke free near Red Devil Friday night, but ice is still in place […]