Lavi, 29, is Trans Queer Bi and Wants Your Respect & Support #AMPLIFY

Pittsburgh Trans Bisexual

Name: Lavi

Age: 29

County of Residence: I grew up in Greene county. I moved to Allegheny County when i was 18. Ive lived in Pittsburgh the past 11 years

Preferred Pronouns: She, her

How do you describe your identity? trans queer bi white

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I started coming out when I was about 15 I think. At that time I found support online. There was an online community of mostly other teenage trans kids we helped each other out with what we could.

I didn’t have support from my family and local community. I felt isolated and alone. I was. I tried to run away but it didn’t work.

I came out more finally when I turned 18 and moved to Pittsburgh. It was finally a time when I could start to be myself and figure out who I am.

I still had trouble finding support. I went to transpitt but felt a big generational gap. I learned a lot tho from Nancy. I always remember her.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Im as out as I can be. Its not like everyone on the streets know but maybe they do I don’t know.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I had a classmate in middle school who was openly gay. He got bullied until he left school.

I learned I could never be myself. I learned my dark secret had to stay buried. I learned what I already knew: I wasn’t allowed to exist.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Holly Woodlawn. I look up to her and Candy Darling and Andy Warhol. I read Holly’s story in her book Low Life in High Heels. I can relate to her experiences. I think she is incredible.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I read pgh lesbian and hear about things affecting the community through social media and my friends.

Describe your geographical community. Where I grew up Greene county was very rural it was not friendly at all. Pittsburgh is urban and its honestly not as friendly as I would like. People harass me and make comments. I feel like there putting me on trial whenever I go outside its very stressful. I even had a man recently grab me and kiss me on the street while saying lude things and I was saying no stop. Nobody cared.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. My community has so many fantastic people who are struggling. Many people in my community are in poverty or homeless. We struggle with mental illness and trauma.

There are great divides in the community. People get ostracized. Its hard to feel like part of a community.

But there are also so many great artists and musicians among my community.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. All the time. Ive had to deal with harassment at work on the street and by landlords ! Not to mention the cops. I got locked up with the men at acj.

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) It has NOT been competent. I don’t even know where to start. I was mistreated and misgendered at metro, mercy hospital, western psych, presby, ambulances, persad, pretty much everywhere.

Id go into it more but its too triggering for me and probably a lot of ur readers too.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Homelessness, poverty, lack of proper medical care and access to medications. Harassment by cops. No food to eat is a big problem and no way to pay the bills cuz they harassed u too much at ur last job so u got depressed and stopped showing up.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Anti discrimination obviously. Protection for trans students at school and workers at their jobs. Access to housing and food . There’s so many homeless in Pittsburgh but nobody cares.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. This past Saturday I got a tattoo by my friend. We got lunch at the pizza place next door. And the person working gave us a free pizza he had extra. Just goes to show I dunno it was nice for everybody no hate.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Like I said before that’d be poverty homelessness lack of medical care and access to medications lack of jobs. Lack of housing and food. The basics.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Well there is the lgbt center downtown. U can go there to get checked out and maybe get some pain meds if ur hurt. Sometimes they give free food away or have open arts times.

I also want to say DHS has helped me. The woman who worked with me from DHS got me food healthcare and a home. She went with me to visits appointments Dr offices or welfare offices she would meet me any part of town even at just a coffee shop or a friends place. She probably saved my life. She stuck by me when I was in jail and showed up to court for me.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That more fractures in our community will cause us to feel more and more isolated and alone.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we will come together and work to build a positive loving community.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Pay us respect us stand up for us

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Listen to us respect us stand up for us pay us

What motivated you to take part in this project? I was reading some of the submissions posted for bi week and i really wanted to participate too.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. U could have asked how it felt to respond to the survey for me it was exhausting but also fun. It was heavy. I feel like there was more I had hoped to say. I did my best.

Thank you, Lavi.

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.

You can read the other Q&A responses here.  AMPLIFY! LGBTQ is a project of Most Wanted Fine Art and Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.

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