OUTSTANDING VIRGINIANS 2013

Ted Heck

Activist

Ted Heck

Ted Heck is starting to win long-deserved recognition as leader in the campaign to build violence-free communities. In December 2011, he was honored as one of “30 Voices for 30 Years” from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, the state’s leading anti-domestic violence program. The nomination calls him “an ardent advocate for increased access to services for survivors who are LGBTQ identified” and cites his dedication to “creating an environment where violence is not the norm.”

Every part of Ted’s life and, it would seem, every moment of his day is devoted to bringing about that vision. Ted has served on the Action Alliance since 2004, when he attended a training session addressing violence in LGBTQ communities. Yet the Alliance is just one of the organizations to which he devotes his prodigious energy and talent.  He is a founder of the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP), which he regards as his greatest source of pride. He also has volunteered with ROSMY and the Steering Committee for Richmond’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.  From 2007 to 2009, Ted was a board member of Equality Virginia. As a member of Richmond Friends Meeting, he has volunteered with local and regional Quaker youth programs. He is also serving a two-year term as Co-Clerk of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, a North American Quaker organization.

Ted is committed to social justice and lends his talent to multiple organizations across Virginia.

Ted’s social justice commitments dovetail with his career in public health. For the last seven years, he has worked for the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) as an HIV Prevention Contract Monitor. As part of this work, he coordinates the efforts of VDH and the Transgender Advisory Group of the Virginia HIV Community Planning Group.  At the VDH, he has worked on implementing a Transgender Health Initiative Survey and developing a Clinician’s Guide to Transgender Risk Assessment, plus a Transgender Resource and Referral for Virginia. Ted also offers provider trainings on transgender issues in his official capacity and publishes the Virginia Transgender Health Newsletter.

Underlying all of these efforts are a solid academic background and unique personal experience. Ted holds a B.A. in Psychology from The American University and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from California State University at Sacramento. His graduate thesis was on prevention services and services for victims of hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.  Ted’s personal journey has given him a special perspective on the needs of the LGBTQ community. Growing up a female-bodied person who had always identified as male, Ted began to see in graduate school that gender transitioning was a real possibility. After moving home to Virginia, he found himself with the necessary time and resources.

Ted with his partner Laura

Times were tough during and after the transition. Despite his master’s degree, Ted found only entry level jobs. Many interviews produced few offers, and once he was fired just before the end of his probationary period. Nonetheless, after joining the VDH as a health educator on the state HIV/STD hotline, he showed his skills as an administrator and was offered his current position as a contract monitor. Ted believes his understanding of the special situation of sexual minorities has contributed to his success within the public health system. For example, knowing that LGBTQ victims are much less likely to report crimes against them—because of fears of social stigma or because services addressing their special needs did not exist—he has worked with the VAVP to devise a “two pronged” outreach approach that addresses both problems.  “I know this population well,” he says, “and can help service providers around the state make connections with them.”