Mission Backers Shrug Off Revelation
Support goes on after ex-chief unveils his new life as a woman
[ROCHESTER, NY] ? The Open Door Mission has received "overwhelming support" from the community since a public revelation that the mission's former longtime director is now living as a woman.
Last week, the Rev. Ken S. Fox, wearing a long brown wig, told television news reporters that he is now living as Kaye Fox.
Since then, only three donors asked to be removed from the mailing list, said Wayne Ohl, the mission's lawyer. Director Ron Fox, Fox's son, declined to be interviewed.
One of the donors contributed $15 a month; two others had contributed one-time gifts several years ago, said Ohl, who refused to release their names.
"The mission has gotten overwhelming support in terms of telephone calls, notes and letters," he said.
Churches from Monroe County and surrounding counties have made it clear they will continue to support the mission, Ohl said.
Longtime donor Carol Benedetti of Brockport gave extra money this week.
"I wrote them two checks with a note saying, `We're behind you 100 percent,' " she said. "I really approve of the mission. It's not a job to them. It's a commitment of the heart."
Members of the Kiwanis Club of Brockport also agreed to continue funding the mission, she said.
The long-term fallout in terms of donorship won't be known until the major fundraising season, which begins in two months, Ohl said. The shelter sent out 160,000 letters to donors stating that the mission "is doing what it's always done," he added.
Paul Graham-Raad, board chairman of the Open Door Mission, doesn't believe Fox's revelation will cause a negative fallout.
"People realize it has nothing to do with the operation of the mission. Really, it is a family situation," he said, referring to the Fox family.
Kaye Fox of Parma said he has been diagnosed with gender identity dysphoria, a general term for people who are confused about their gender. Even as a young child, Fox said, he knew he was meant to be female.
Others began to notice about two years ago, when Fox began wearing nail polish, earrings and pants "with a feminine cut to them" to work, Graham-Raad said. The mission board asked Fox to go on sabbatical. A few months later, Fox resigned at the request of the board, Graham-Raad said.
According to Graham-Raad, the resignation was voluntary; Fox said he was forced to give up his position.
"These people we deal with are fragile -- they have gone through broken homes, pornography, drug use and are trying to get turned around," Graham-Raad said.
"Ken had done an awful lot of good, but he was no longer the Rev. Ken Fox who everyone knew and respected."
But Kaye Fox says that inside he is the same person.
"Most people who know me have been very receptive," said Fox, 60.
Fox doesn't understand why donors would stop supporting the Open Door Mission solely because of him.
"I have no connection with the mission," Fox said.
"I think it's tragic if someone, upset with me as former director of the mission, takes it out on people so vulnerable who have nothing to do with it. That's pretty small."