Dawn, 33, Describes Life as a Trans Woman in Westmoreland County #AMPLIFY

Armstrong Westmoreland County

Name: Dawn

Age: 33

County of Residence:  Westmoreland, formerly Armstrong county

Preferred Pronouns: she/her

How do you describe your identity? I’m transgender, male to female though I haven’t transitioned, I’m sexually unsure. I’m also a furry.

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My coming out was via letter to my mom and verbally to my stepfather. It was easter sunday 2013 for my mom, I had explained that I was transgender and that I had a list of names for her to help me out. To my stepfather I came out on May 20, 2013. I told him that I was LGBT but didn’t go into specifics.

I found support in friends that were either lesbian or straight allies or bisexual. The biggest challenges have been explaining to my parents that it’s not a matter of having sex to determine your gender identity and sexual preference and my stepfather hates me to this day.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m out. I’m not ashamed. But my family still hates me.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I honestly can’t remember the first LGBTQ person I ever met.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen DeGeneres. Because she hasn’t been afraid to be out there despite early struggles. she’s been my heroine.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? through PFLG, Pink News, the Advocate, twitter and facebook

Describe your geographical community. I’m really not sure if my area is Urban or Rural. It’s somewhat LGBTQ friendly. There’s a lot of people that are supportive but they mostly keep to themselves.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. My elected officials are Republican, so they’re of the mindset that it’s settled law, but they’re not happy. PFLAG and other organizations are awesome! I’ve had many helpful and encouraging people.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public.  No. It’s never come up.

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’m not sure.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I’m not sure.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Make it clear what is covered under the Gateway Health Insurance for transgender people.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I can’t think of anything, I keep mostly to mysel.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? the uneducation of the general population.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PFLAG

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  that evil wins.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? that love triumphs 

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? be there, listen, understand.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? be there, listen, understand, help.

What motivated you to take part in this project? To be a part of the community and to help us progress.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you answered all the questions that are there but you should ask transgender people if they have transitioned or know what they need to do in their area to transition. in my case both answers are no.

Thank you, Dawn.

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. These are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices.

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.  If you would like to participate, visit the online Q&A which takes about 30 minutes. 

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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