County of Residence: Allegheny, previously Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: she, she’s, her, hers
How do you describe your identity? Female Pansexual White, European decent
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out at 26 years old. It was tough. I was on the verge of suicide and I had a 2-year-old son depending on my existence.
I dropped a bomb on my life. On relationships. It was the only way. I had no friends. Nowhere to really start. I just got myself out into the queer community. My personality aided greatly in forming my initial friendship and support base. Those early days were very lonely though.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Been living openly as a pansexual trans woman for 10 years. I’ve gone through all of the legalities and am quite open in my personal life. I do like to maintain my anonymity in my daily life. I still work where I did through my transition. Work was tough but I fought and survived the experience.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first folks I ever met were in my adolescence in school. They were the first ones who in a way forced me the examine myself and things I had felt since I was 4 years old.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Lana Wachowski, writer, producer, director
One of the most inventive, imaginative minds of my generation. My trans idol.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Social media Select TV media Friends Advocates
Describe your geographical community. I’m in suburbia. I don’t have many problems as I’m mostly stealth. But my wife and I together get mixed reactions being a lesbian couple. Around the city it’s never an issue.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Many resources around the city of Pittsburgh. I personally needed the help of Persad and my doctor is at Metro Family Practice. I live in Moon now. Can’t speak for services here. I travel to the city.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. At work it was brutal. It took quite a few years to be treated correctly. Grievances filed and lots of tears. Keep in mind I deliver mail in a rural town. It was tough. Most have adjusted and I have many allies now. But I still put up with BS occasionally.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) Good for the most part. I work for USPS so I’ve always had insurance. Most basic things have been covered but I had to pay 30K out-of-pocket for my various procedures which was very difficult.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? The dialogue doesn’t exist in suburbia unless it’s straight fear mongering.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Protections laws Strict hate crime laws Bathroom facility protections state wide Wider availability of LGBT physical and mental health care outside of metropolitan areas.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Being trans is a life experience few will ever know or truly understand. I say to all people no matter your background, race, social status, gender identity, political affiliation, just be nice to each other. Everyone is fighting a battle you have no idea about. Be kind.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Dating Physical vulnerability Self consciousness
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad Metro Family Practice GLCC
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Hate crimes Discrimination
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Equality plain and simple
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Listen and learn
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Not segregate themselves
What motivated you to take part in this project? Suggestion from a friend. Every person who is where I used to be matters to me. If my words can help in any way it is worth it.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What is your outlook for your future. Are you happy?
Thank you, Ravenna.
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.
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