County of Residence: Allegheny County
How do you describe your identity? Straight Trans Man
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? It was very challenging my family is not supportive but my friends have been overwhelmingly great. I still have legal challenges with my birth name and have trouble getting healthcare as I have been moving between two states for a few years. People have been both kind and not so kind.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m out to those who are my close friends and I pass as a cisman to strangers. My family chooses to ignore my transition.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I had friends who were LGBTQ and we all impacted each other growing up and supporting each other. We gave each other a network to feel normal, supported, and explore ourselves.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I love Willow off Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show is an old favorite that I have always watched and her character is delightful. I like when LGBTQ characters have lots of depth.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I use the internet and my friends also keep me up to date.
Describe your geographical community. Pittsburgh is great and is supportive and a very safe environment. Urban environments I feel are better for branching out and finding support.v
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Pittsburgh has a very supportive scene I have lived in a small town in WV that was more backward and close minded so Pittsburgh has been refreshing.
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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. Yes, I was once chased down by bikers at a bar. I have had numerous insults and fights I’ve had to deal with. When I was first transitioning people were very hard to deal with but moving and passing better have helped all these things. I have had girlfriends treat me like a secret which was damaging to my self esteem.
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. People misgender you and you have to correct them but often I don’t think it’s intentional. I work in sales and some people are avoidant when they precieve you to be out of the norm.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I am still struggling to deal with getting healthcare unfortunately.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? There is so much that goes into the LGBTQ experience that people who haven’t lived it don’t understand. There is self questioning and all sorts of pressures that are unique.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? More access to healthcare and surgeries.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. My roommate recently changed their name and it went very well!
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? People are people and don’t know how to relate to others that are visibly diffrent sometimes.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? I know of the Pasard center but that’s about it personally I need to expand out.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? We need more healthcare help I think and more integration.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? It’s very inclusive and safe here. It’s a huge improvement over where I used to live.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Just be cool about things.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Take time to understand its not all about body parts. Consider us as friends and lovers.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I’m always open to help out the community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think your doing a really good thing here. Keep up the good work I can’t really think of anything.
Thank you, Jay.
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.