Celebrating Pride Month: Max Sherod

June 25, 2021

Max Sherod has been with Compass Group for nearly six years. The California native began as a cashier before moving into the kitchen at the Waterford School in Salt Lake City. Learn how Max is helping others navigate the emotional process of accepting their true identity.

Why is it important that we celebrate Pride Month?
There are plenty of people in the LGBTQ+ community who don’t really get to be active in their identity and lifestyle daily, and Pride is a chance to celebrate their true selves. So many LGBTQ+ people don’t feel truly accepted in their workplace. That’s why I’m proud Compass Group is committing to making real progress around diversity and inclusion through training and our Diversity & Inclusion Action Councils. I am myself 365 days a year, and I have pride in who I am every day, but I recognize others may struggle with that. So, to have a month that shows it’s OK is important. It feels good to be celebrated.

How are you able to show up authentically as your true self?
The truth is that it can be absolutely terrifying to show up as who you really are. I am a transgender man and I had to work through harassment and negative comments. There have been situations where things have been scary for me as an out transgender person and I’ve been through a lot. But I’m showing people that transgender people are normal, and I want to inspire others. It takes some people a very long time to embrace their identity. I’m focused on making an impactful difference by making the world a little bit better for my community and helping others realize you can rise above all the negativity.

How do you help others embrace their true identity?
I volunteer with a support group for transgender adults, where I help facilitate meetings and act as a mentor. I’m also a member of the Patient Advisory Board for the Utah Transgender program at the University of Utah, where I act as an advising resource helping serve their clients and speak to the transgender community. It’s truly rewarding work and a way that I can help others.

How do you empower others to follow their true selves?
Radical acceptance. I try to share my personal experience with others who have questions about their journey, whether about coming out, getting surgery or changing their name. My journey was challenging, but I wouldn’t change a thing because I am so much happier now. I look in the mirror proudly now, instead of avoiding the mirror or avoiding every recording and photo of myself. I’m not confused anymore. I want people to know it gets better. I hope how I connect with others and what I share can inspire someone else who may be suffering or struggling. There is nothing wrong with how we are made. You don’t have to feel shame.

What is the most rewarding part of serving on Diversity and Inclusion Action Council (DIAC) at Compass Group?
Being a part of the conversation around diversity and seeing information about transgender people that I helped create being distributed in training sessions. There is so much information about transgender people that was created by cisgender people, or people who agree with the gender they were assigned at birth. Sure, they have done the research about a particular topic or issue, but I have lived the experience. That real-life perspective makes a difference in presenting facts authentically, even down to the words we use. Collectively as a DIAC, we want to represent every single under-represented group and person. That is a big step in giving people a sense of belonging.

How can people be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community?
I would say, listen to people in the LGBTQ+ community. That is the simplest answer. Listen to them and believe them when they tell you about their experiences, their thoughts and feelings. Also, don’t be afraid to do your own research if you don’t understand something.