Name: Ciora Thomas
County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: she/her/hers
How do you describe your identity? I’m a Bi Transwomn.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My coming out experience wasn’t really a coming out more so i got caught by my step father and my family then turned on me. I found support in downtown Pittsburgh and the GLCC when it was in Squirrel Hill ran by Lyndsey Sickler. I faced many challenges the main being a homeless trans teenager.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”?
BOLD BEAUTIFUL COURAGEOUS AND EDUCATED Now that i realize who i am and sit semi comfortable in my skin im so much more comfortable with teaching people instead attacking someone who us just uneducated,
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life?
The first LGBTQ person i met was a transwomen named Bubbles a working girl in downtown Pittsburgh who taught me the basic skills to survive on the streets. It impacted my life not for the good but i had to eat and survive. My young life was filled with homelessness,sex work, drugs and violence.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues?
Internet and community work
Describe your geographical community.
It’s very LGBQ friendly but trans is another story. Our community still does not fully understand us and that we don’t need pizza parties anymore we need housing and permanent housing. Its more of an urban community.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community.
Our community here in Pittsburgh has a lot of work to be done we have a lot of injustice still happening where all fighting for everyday. its ironic how other stated even cities or moire advanced when it comes to lgbtq issues. Pittsburgh is still trying to catch up ESPECIALLY understanding and aiding transwomen and men of color -Reason https://www.facebook.com/sistersPGH/ is so important for our community to aid and assist our trans youth and adults
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?)
Yes. Central Outreach with Dr. Lane
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue?
They’re unaware of how to deal with trans people accurately while we become afraid to asked for help
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians?
Insure permanent housing
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community.
You have to keep on going no matter what life throws at you do not bowl down. We have the strength of two souls (trans people)
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors?
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors?
New Voices Pittsburgh
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community?
Fight with us from the back let us lead the fight
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community?
Getting the correct education about each LGBTQ
What motivated you to take part in this project?
Making a difference in our community
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer.
What can be done to assist Transwomen and men of color without privilege?
Thank you, Ciora.
Editors Note: A few years ago, we wrote about a powerful episode of SistersUnited that Ciora wrote and narrated. I encourage everyone to invest 40 minutes of your time to learn about the experiences of trans youth in a way that’s rarely documented in Pittsburgh.
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.