County of Residence: I’ve lived in Erie, Edinboro, and will be moving to Warren, Pa.
How do you describe your identity? I am a transgender pansexual male.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? When I came out as a lesbian, I didn’t face any problems. Everyone had already basically assumed that I was gay so it was an easy transition. However, coming out as a transgender man was a completely different story. My girlfriend is my biggest supporter, and my peers had no problem switching pronouns and calling me Tyler. But, my family has yet to come around.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am completely out as a transgender man to everyone besides a lot of my family because I know they will not accept me.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I’m sure there were LGBTQ people that I had met before him, but the first person that I clearly remember would be my best friend from my freshman year of high school. He was the first person I came out to and he was one of the people who really inspired me to embrace my sexuality.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. There’s not one specific person but all of the trans guys on YouTube that are documenting their transitions for fellow trans people. These men helped me so much with my coming out and they’ve helped so many other people too.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly Facebook and YouTube
Describe your geographical community. I’ve only lived in cities but both Edinboro and Erie have seemed to be pretty LGBTQ friendly.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I don’t have much experience with the local LGBTQ community but my university’s GSA, Identity, really helped me when I decided to come out as trans.
Share your LGBTQ story with the #AMPLIFY project. Visit our online Q&A and show your solidarity with neighbors through Western PA.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I am lucky enough to have never experienced much discrimination besides some middle-school style taunts in high school.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’m lucky enough to still be on my parent’s insurance because I’m only 18. Their health insurance provider is incredibly trans friendly and I’m meeting with a doctor to start transitioning in the next couple weeks.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? The cities I live in are in desperate need of trans-friendly healthcare providers. Most endocrinologists in the area will just shoo you off the Pittsburgh at the first mention of hormone replacement therapy. As far as I know there is only family practice that will prescribe hormones to transgender patients.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I hope that they will fight for us. Since the election, our rights are kind of up in the air. I just want to live a normal life and I pray that our elected officials will make sure the LGBTQ community will not be marginalized.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. In one of my college writing classes I wasn’t sure of someone’s pronouns so I simply went up and asked. His face lit up as soon as I asked and I could tell that he appreciated me asking. If you aren’t sure of someone’s pronouns please just ask. It takes two seconds but it could save someone from a lot of dysporia about being misgendered.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I think LGBTQ-friendly healthcare needs to be more readily available to our community.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Transfamily of NWPA, The Persad center, SafeNet
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? The amount of LGBTQ teen suicides are out of control. We need to protect our communities young people.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Strength and prosperity for everyone in the community. I hope we stand in solidarity to make sure our rights are protected and our voices are heard.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Don’t speak over our voices, support is important but ultimately our voices are the ones that need to be heard I’m regards to the community.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Help make sure we aren’t erased. We are valid and we are not just “gay.” There are so many individual identities that deserve their own attention.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I wanted people to know that you are never too young to explore your identity. I came out as a lesbian at 15 and I came out as trans at 18. Your identity is valid regardless of your age.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Is there any specific moment in your childhood that was a pivotal part of discovering your identity?
In 5th grade I went around telling people that I wanted to be a boy for weeks. All the other kids made fun of me so I stopped but looking back on my childhood that was one of the first time I had been vocal about my wishes to be a boy.
Thank you, Ty.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
Submit your own Q&A using our online form.
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.