County of Residence: Allegheny, formerly Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his
How do you describe your identity? queer transman
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? When it occurred to me that transmen exist I spared no time figuring out what I had to do. Since I was a grown person I started telling people and my news was met with support. My ex wife, my son who was 5 at the time, my partner, friends and my job at the time were all supportive of my transition. My parents even took the news better than when I came out as a lesbian back in college!
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am about 90% stealth at work, but totally out in my personal life.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I came out as a lesbian at 21, so I met my first LGB people in college, but Since I am going to focus on the T part of my life I will tell you I met my first Transman when I was 38. He was a friend of my ex wife’s. At first I felt a little uneasy knowing he would be spending time with my son because I didn’t know much about transpeople at the time. In fact up until then I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a transman. Even though this guy really has no idea the impact knowing him had on me, I give him the credit for showing me that transmen exist. I realized that this was who I was, but before had no name to put to my feelings.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I don’t really have a favorite fictional T character, but I guess if I had to choose a Trans character I would pick Maura from Transparent. I prefer to read stories of real trans people.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? LGBTQ Facebook groups and friends
Describe your geographical community. I grew up in a small town (Lower Burrell) and I don’t really know how my transition would have be received if I lived there now. Although I do know one guy who is young that recently transitioned there and I haven’t heard that he received any backlash.
Now I live in Morningside. I also don’t really know how friendly this town is because I live my day to day life stealth with strangers. We just moved to this side of town in September.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Quite honestly I don’t spend a whole lot of time interacting with the LGBT Community here in PGH. I have a few friends that I sometimes hang out with. I go to the Transpride picnic and other Trans events from time to time. I use the services of Persad.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I guess the lack of knowledge about transpeople.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Healthcare is a big deal for me right now. Since I work in a low paying field it would be nice for my Trans related services to be covered under my insurance.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Living stealth at work is an interesting thing to navigate. I work with all women that don’t realize that I have gone through all the female things that they have gone through! It takes all I have not to blurt out advice and join in the conversation! It is also interesting especially when you have a child that you gave birth to. I am constantly dancing around issues when talking to my co workers about my life and my son. When they saw pictures of my son and then of my ex wife they were baffled by how much he looks like me and nothing like her! I struggle on a daily basis on whether or not to come out to them. I have worked there over 2 years now and don’t want their opinion of me to change in anyway, but I also want to educated people that would have no clue about transpeople.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? education surrounding LGBT issues especially for the younger groups.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad GLCC … although I’d like them to change the name of the center.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest fear is the bullying, violence and deaths that happens from the lack of education.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That someday people will see us as equal contributing members of society. That people will not see the trans community as some deviant group of people.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? listen to our stories and be educated
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? again listen to our stories and have an open mind
What motivated you to take part in this project? It is important for people to see that people like me exist.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Do you have children and how did they handle your transition.
I have 1 child who is 10. My little one is also a gender bender and they prefer gender neutral pronouns for now.
They took my transition with flying colors. It never phased them at all. I included them in steps of my transition and explained everything. My first explanation to them was that I had a girl body but a boy heart and that I was going to do a few things to fix that.
Thank you, Wes!
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.