Name: Madison Perry
County of Residence: Allegheny
Pronouns: She ,her
How do you describe your identity? Pansexual
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? In terms of my sexuality , I came out to the world as bisexual at 26 but since then since the vocabulary as I’ve known it has changed I would better be described as Pansexual.
Coming out to the world was Transgender is a bit more complex and dramatic. As far back as I can remember I always wanted to identify as female. I dressed even with my mom and grandma’s help as a 7-year-old and played with Barbie dolls too. But fear of how my Dad would take all this would keep me from transitioning , not that it was easy to do so then in the early 90s. At 18 I was on my own, living with my pregnant Girlfriend at the time and she knew and supported me transitioning then. However her Mom was a Republican sort who wasn’t supportive, she put the guilt trip and brainwash on her daughter to turn on me as if my lifestyle made me an unfit parent. We separated with warnings of “I’d better not be dressed around [the] baby or have similar friends. Basically I was kicked out of his life and forced to go live back at home. I was forced back in the closet till I broke the doors down. I was more open, still wanting to transition but to actually start was harder because I was paying child support at the time and I was poor. I’ve dealt with horrible bullying at work too over my sexuality that caused severe depression where for a time I couldn’t even work anymore. Anyway I got back to work with the help of my favorite hobby. Running. Over the years I’ve run countless 10k and 5k races and 10 full marathons. I’m vaguely athletic but running was always my way of dealing with depression anxiety and dysphoria . From 18 to 26 I was closeted but at 26 through 37 I was completely open about my sexuality and everyone knew I dressed even bullies on the job knew even though at the time I had zero online social media presence.
At 37 things get interesting. One day I started feeling very constipated and over the next few days it got really bad with gas and I wasn’t going to the bathroom for bowel movements. At the 4th night I was just laying on a recliner watching tv feeling half asleep when suddenly felt like I was being stabbed in the stomach. In one split second I was standing up screaming in pain like I never ever felt before. Lol I even said aloud I wish my Mom was here and she’s been dead for years. Anyway somehow I was put in a car for a 3 am ride to the hospital convinced I was dying soon. At the hospital the tests said I had Sepsis, perforated bowels a infection. I almost died and would have without surgery. Even after the initial life saving surgery I still had 2 more surgeries to go. During the second one to put another drain in I had a seizure because a pocket of infection popped in my stomach. From 1st surgery to the resectioning of my bowel 3rd surgery it was a wilderness of pain. Abdominal surgeries are no joke. The disease I suffered was diverticulitis and its hard to explain it simply.
As I recovered I was wondering why did I survive, if God spared me or better yet what should I do with my second chance. Running another stupid marathon? No that did seem as important. One day I had the house to myself and I dug my outfits out of the attic and dressed up, at the time I wasn’t dressing because my wife at the time always put guilt trips on me about dressing so I was limited.
However our marriage was less than fair. She cheated often , went to bars without me and was emotionally more attached to her friends. when she came back that she could tell I was stressing she noticed I had eyeliner on still. I could have explained it away is just a one-time thing but I said in my mind f*** it. I told her yes I owned it in that moment I decided I’m not putting up with it anymore I’m going to be myself. I told her that if she doesn’t like it we can get a divorce. Over the next few months I decided what I want to do and what I wanted to do is transition. Is that I have found out from then until today transitioning is not simple there were many steps lots of effort. Counseling doctors hormones the whole nine yards. The one thing about the diverticulitis that is a good thing for me is it cut out all the red tape and any concern for what others negative opinions would be. Telling my dad was easy divorce my wife was easy because our marriage was totally over. I was sick of her cheating and her laziness and she was stealing off me too. I was very fortunate to find a good gender therapist who helped me on my way to the woman I am now. Soon I’ll have my name change because I’ve hired a lawyer to help me accomplish this.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am out I have over 1500 followers on Instagram. And I’ve made some great friends in the lgbtq community on Facebook and IRL. The nicest and most supporting people I have found in this community I feel truly blessed for that.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I don’t really remember the first lgbtq person who I met who had such an impact the first person I knew was LGBT was my cousin but we never really talked. The first person who made a big impact on my life would have been my first boyfriend Josh.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Tina, from The L Word. I love her outness and pride in being who she is. Was and Dill from The Crying Game.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Facebook , instagram
Describe your geographical community. Suburban. For the most part it is always been friendly for me. Occasionally over the years I’ve got a few people yelling at the car windows but overall I’ve had a very friendly experience in the city I live.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Small community but everyone is nice and supportive. I love the Pittsburgh scene.
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Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I was bullied horribly when I work in this one local thrift store that I don’t want to name
Have you experienced microagressions based on your identity? Think everyday indignities & slights that you experience, but would not characterize as discrimination. Please describe in your own words. I’ve been miss gendered from time to time.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) My current doctors were very easy to find and are to be credited with the person I am I’m very happy for them and thankful 4 such fine Medical Care during my transition
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Nothing major that I could say.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I don’t know how they could do it but I wish there was more to be done about the bathroom situation for people like us
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I actually get treated better in public since I’ve am openly transgender. I get compliments on my nails and outfits by women and men hold doors open for me.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I say there isn’t any challenge our lgbtq community could rise against.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad center, Transpride, Transpittsburgh.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Fear of the Govt trying to stop our transitioning and our rights being stripped away.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Continuing freedoms that today I experience in my own neighborhood
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Keep being there as friends and family.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Everyone in the lgbtq community should support each other in our shared freedoms and right to exist. I believe we all have a duty to support each other.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Someone special to me has already participated in such a project and they inspired me because of their own story of coming out to the world.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you covered this Q&A pretty well.
Thank you, Madison.
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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.