Five-year-old Giovanni Moore has a big heart. In fact, it's so big, whenever he goes out shopping or is in a crowd, he smiles and waves to everyone. He never understands when they don't respond.
That's what hurts Sean Moore the most. Sean -- a TD Banking Specialist in Technology Support, based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey -- thinks about when Gio is older and how he hopes life's challenges don't take away his love for everyone.
He also dreads the day when and he and his wife, Gabrielle Moore, will have to sit Gio down and have an honest conversation about dealing with police and racism.
"He thinks life is one big family, unfortunately, that's not the case," Sean said. "It worries us both thinking about it. We don't want to have to crush his spirit."
Sean has hopes that maybe, just maybe, things will improve by the time Gio is at the age when he would need to do so. But he's also a realist.
So, the Moore family continues to find joy in the world. They make sure their son sees the movies with Black superheroes, they tell him about the many heroes that look like him and make sure he understands the important contributions that Black people have made throughout history.
For Sean, he also enjoyed growing up in his own home in Camden County, New Jersey. But when he left the friendly confines of his home, the world hasn't always been a welcoming place.
Sean lost his father when he was a year old. His mother had to raise three children alone.
Sean was assigned female at birth, but even at a young age, he knew something didn't feel quite right. He always wanted to be the brother or the dad during play at home. He identified early as a proud member of the LGBTQ2+ community and found the love of his life shortly after high school. But something still seemed amiss.
It was truly hard to fully fit in with a community, especially as a bi-racial child with a Black father and Italian mother.
"Being mixed was tough, I couldn't feel comfortable with either group," Sean said. "I wasn't Black enough for my Black peers or white enough for my white peers."
But Sean's life took some twists that ultimately made it better after those difficult times. Today, he's in a loving family with his smiling son, Gio. He's also found a home at TD Bank, first as a customer in 2017, where he was fully embraced for who he truly is. Afterwards, he came to work at the bank where his mother, Verna Cornish, TD Development Services Coordination, was employed and felt the same acceptance, this time as part of the TD family.
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After Sean married, he found himself withdrawing from social gatherings and still feeling like his place in the world wasn't quite clear. He was eagerly anticipating the adoption of a baby boy with his wife, but the feelings of wanting to belong persisted.
Then one night, scrolling on Facebook, he saw two posts that he says, "might have saved my life."
He read about two classmates who were transitioning. Sean "realized he could absolutely transition to his authentic self."
"I might be the only person whose life got better from Facebook posts," he said in a joking manner.
His wife fully embraced his transition and told him, "if that's what you're doing, that's what we're doing." But there was one person, however, he was a bit nervous to tell, his grandmother. Her reaction startled Sean.
She told me ''now I have a grandson." She also noted, in a proud manner, that she now had something in common with Cher, whose son Chaz also transitioned years ago.
It's a time to give back
Getting the role at TD was an incredible feeling, where as a customer, he noted they went "above and beyond" to make him feel comfortable. As an employee, he was able to use the benefits both to help cover his gender affirmation surgery and adoption costs.
TD medical plans in the US include benefits for a wide range of needs, including gender affirming surgery. The bank's plans also include benefits for adoptions, surrogacy and other fertility treatments.
Sean is now eager to use his life experience to help others, particularly those considering transition. He looks forward to working with the Forever Proud Business Resource Group at TD to give both emotional and practical advice.
"I can be myself unapologetically at work," he said. "Once I came to TD, everything came together. To be able to go to your job and bring yourself to work, it's an amazing feeling. It brings me a lot of joy that I want others to feel as well."