Name: Bobbi Jo
County of Residence: Indiana, formerly Butler County
How do you describe your identity? Female lesbian. I’ve always been attracted to women. Transgender.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? It happened while I was in a substance recovery program in Indiana. I am a recovering alcoholic. Not much support in this area. My main challenge was total family rejection, which still exists.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m a more confident woman, not afraid to be seen anymore. People don’t have to like me. I now love myself more than I could ever imagined. This is my journey. Don’t mess with someone you don’t understand!
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? She is a therapist at Persad in Lawrenceville. She convinced me to be true to myself which I ultimately did.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Laverne Cox.
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How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Transgender support circle and meet ups we have at Persad. Social media also. I’ve made many new friends on Facebook.
Describe your geographical community. It’s defintely not friendly to alternative lifestyles.,rural or urban. I’m a pioneer in this area.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Primary in the Pittsburgh area.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I’ve just recently been discriminated against while looking for an apartment in Pittsburgh. Very subtle, to avoid discrimination.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’m on Medicare,which has been fairly liberal to my transitioning. Mental therapy is readily available and affordable.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? No.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Make overall issues and mission more transparent. Public awareness and acceptance needs addressed.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Changing legal identity, SS ID and drivers license gender change and name change has been a very lengthy tedious process.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Legal issues, i.e above challenges.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? On social media, 🏳️🌈 LGBTQ of Pittsburgh and Transgender Support Circle are available to anyone interested. Certain membership requirements may have to be met.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? The new healthcare program in the US Senate right now and certain cuts to present programs. Very scary !
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That greater acceptance and recognition occur in my lifetime to support future generations.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Greater acceptance.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? More recognition.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Overall concern about our community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you’ve covered just about everything.
Thank you, Bobbi Jo.
Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
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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.