Raised in a Sicilian-American household in Cleveland, Joe Gufreda had a “normal” childhood playing sports, scrapping on the playground, serving as an altar boy and, as he grew older, dating girls. But from early on he knew he was different from the other boys: In secret he liked to dress in women’s clothes.
Thanks to a lack of information about transgenders in that era, Joe was confused about what his leanings meant. Was he one of a kind? A transvestite? It wasn’t until he discovered a book about transgender people in a college library that he began the journey to change genders.
Today, JJ Marie Gufreda is still a Christian, a loving spouse and parent of three children and “Nonna” to four grandchildren. JJ remains a successful businessperson, serving the past 20 years as President of GEI Inc., an Operations and Process Improvement and Diversity Consulting firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was the President of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce for six years and has spoken at several companies, churches, and organizations. She has been a frequent LGBT advocate at the Indiana Statehouse.
JJ has captured the evolution from Joe to JJ Marie in the book Left-Hander in London. The book traces Gufreda’s journey, from sharing his secret with his wife to dressing as a woman at home and a man everywhere else to telling his family, friends and business associates that he was becoming a woman.
Most recently, JJ has performed a play, Left-Hander in London: The Earthquake, that also takes the audience through her journey. Riddled with humor and peppered with Gufreda’s shocking obstacles, it’s another way to see just what it means when an ordinary Joe becomes a Jane. JJ’s newest show is Left-Hander in London – The Cabaret. The Cabaret show is music, stories, sarcasm and fun. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ6DA-wS58Y&feature=youtu.be Check out JJ’s original songs and her interpretation of familiar music.