County of Residence: Allegheny County
Preferred Pronouns: She, her
How do you describe your identity? Female, heterosexual, white, Irish German atheist.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I am a trans-woman that transitioned after 30 years of marriage and two children. I had fooled myself for years, but my real self emerged in my 40’s but I kept trying to suppress it for my family. I got progressively more depressed and sought a psychologist with gender experience to help me sort out my feelings. I also found support on line with a support site called Beginning Life Forums.
Challenges were keeping my family together and staying employed. For my family, only my son speaks to me and I’m estranged from my wife and daughter. Oddly, I am still in contact and see my in-laws but much of my family has rejected me.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I just live my life now. Being trans has little to do with my life. When I get to know someone and my past comes up, I am honest with them and so far in Pittsburgh there has been unpleasant surprises.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My roommate in university. He was a gay man and having him as my roommate was fantastic and we are BFFs still today.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Oscar Wilde. Love his writings.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Local groups and the news.
Describe your geographical community. See above.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I live in a very diverse neighborhood with gay, lesbian, African American, and other backgrounds. We are a neighborhood of people, who don’t care about the superficial outer layer and embrace diversity. I love it.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. No.
Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I have not had any issues with health care.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not that I am aware of.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Support all equality based legislation specifically against LGBTQ discrimination in housing, employment etc..
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I guess you can say that because I am now treated as who I am, a woman, seen as such and my being trans is a fact like I don’t use sugar, is a daily positive moment.
I have told many people about my past and all the reactions have been positive and they all have embraced me for who I am.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Currently there is fear of hate groups and people who would do us harm. No incidents have occurred, and I know that my neighbors will have our backs.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? I don’t know of any.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Being physically harmed for being who I am, or a LGBTQ friend being harmed mentally or physically.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That LGBTQ becomes a non-issue. That everyone is just treated as a human being.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? I’m new here, so none.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Support and be welcoming.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I want to help anyone to be able to be who they are and just live their lives. I am out partly because I cannot be evasive or lie, but also because the more I tell my story the more the public will realize I’m just another woman who happens to be trans.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Can’t think of anything.
Thank you, Caiolinn.
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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.
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