County of Residence: Lawrence
How do you describe your identity? I’m a transgender female lesbian.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? All of my original support came from friends followed by my family and parents.
The challenges I have faced have been working with my parents and spouse. My journey has been slower, but for the sake of them and it seems to have been the best decision. I did not lose anyone in the process.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Happy. I have finally been able to live as I have always felt. No more fear, no more hiding.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My first and greatest help was Sabrina from Butler PA. She was also the first person I contacted when I had questions of who I was. She was the greatest influence to where I am today.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Michelle Hendley.
She played Ricky in “Boy Meets Girl”. She is a YouTube Vloger turned actress.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Friends and support groups
Describe your geographical community. I’m more considered rural being a very small city and my kids go to a county school that I graduated from.
Acceptance has been amazingly high. No one has been anything but kind and supportive. Even with us just moving to a new home in the past few months, the neighbors and even my kids friends and parents have had no concerns at all. I’m just another girl in the crowd.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. It’s up and coming. There is a good amour of support in Butler and Youngstown. But being in the middle there really isn’t much.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Early on I was kind of out and lost a job. I was terminated for loss of confidence. It was never admitted that is was because I was transgender, but hard to hide when it happens within weeks of being outed to your district manager.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not really. My area seems quite accommodating.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Make name change and other needs less costly. I’m in the process of starting my legal name change and it is proving to be almost unattainable to me at this current time because my finances can not support the fees.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Everyday is a happier moment. From the days that cis friends at work fought for me to use the women’s room while some has concerns. To yesterday when I went to the prothonotary and after requesting information for my name change I was asked if I was going back to a maiden name.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Fear. Fear of the unknown and if the next person you meet is going to be the one who dislikes what you are doing. Along this lines is the need for education in how trans people are just like everyone else.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Mostly online. But I think my writing has helped many to learn and understand from a friend in the know. I’m not afraid to answer the questions they have.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Acceptance. I know that my situation is rarely the majority and that for others it is very difficult. I fear others haven’t being accepted due to ignorance.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Education and acceptance.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Education and discussion.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Support us.
What motivated you to take part in this project? My friend Sabrina posted about it and I always want to help in every way that I can.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you have covered a nice spectrum for education and learning.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. We are using a Q&A format and will minimize editing their responses.
Our intent is to highlight the voices of marginalized members of our community who are not always invited to the table or whose voices are not heard. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices. If you would like to participate, please email me pghlesbian at gmail or visit the online Q&A.