Name: Austin Jacob
County of Residence: Washington County
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
How do you describe your identity? I’m an Austrian, Scottish, Irish American Christian UU who is a straight transman.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? Coming out the first time as a lesbian was the hardest. I lost my friends, my church, my mother made it seem like it was the worst thing that could happen. Coming out the second time as a straight transgender male was easier to do but brought it’s own separate challenges. I lost my whole blood family. I had to appear as my dead name and act like her in order to be able to see my dying father in the hospital. It was confusing and uncomfortable. He never knew me as his son. Only on the phone. I found support online and through friends like Lyndsey. The hardest time I had was and is loving Austin and seeing him for him instead of finding bits and peices of her in me. The more I transition, the easier life gets. I pass 100%. I got my name and gender legally changed ironically on June 26th. The hard part now is proving I was my dead name. Some people still have me on file under my dead name so instead of me proving I’m Austin its me proving my former legal name. Lol
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m out to all my family and friends. A huge part of me wants to be stealth for the most part, but there’s a part of me who wants to be out to help others. I’m not out at work. If they found out, oh well. Im protected by my employer anyway.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? It was a friend of mine back before I was “out.” I tried to mask my identity and sexuality with religion. At 18, I got tired of living this deep down secret so I came out to my only gay friend at the time. We were going to go to the gay bar, and he said he would protect me from the lesbians. I said well maybe I don’t want to be protected. He was in utter shock because image and reputation was of this goodie two shoes person. We went and danced to Cher and had the time of my life. He made me feel ok to be free.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Mary Lambert… She tells it like it is in her music. You can hear the soul in her music. It’s undeniable. Plus, she’s cute. ;P
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? News, FB, Word of mouth
Describe your geographical community. Texas is where I was born and raised. It is truly the Bible belt. Houston is very lbgtq friendly, but other cities and towns, not so much. I’ll never live in TX again because of how conservative it is. I live in Washington, PA. It can be just as bad, but its more of a live and let live here.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Uneducated. Washington, PA needs to educate themselves on our community. Especially on healthcare. If I’m legally male, then I should be allowed to bunk with another male in medical facilities. And any facility. Some transpeople might not agree, but I’ve worked too hard to become the man that I am now to be segregated.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes. Jobs. And I’ve been harassed by people on the streets.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yes!
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Safety and equal rights for alllll. I’d also like for FTM and MTF and non-binary, etc surgeries to be covered by Medicaid.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. If you identify as both male and female, change your gender on your social to one of them and your DL to the other. I had mine like that unintentionally due to having to wait to get my Dr to sign off on it.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Safety, surgery costs
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, fb support groups, Washington communities is a great local place for therapy and a psych Dr. Metro family practice.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? For it to go totally radically conservative.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Equal.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Rally, fight for us and with us, stick up for us
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Don’t disrespect. I’ve been in gay bars and used the Men’s bathroom and the men look under the stall and laugh.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Get the word out. To make a difference.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. You did good 😉
Thank you, Austin.
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.