Jez, 50, Came Out As Trans in 1985 in Rural Washington County #AMPLIFY

Transgender Washington County


Name: Jez

Age:  50

County of Residence:  Washington

Pronouns: she/her

How do you describe your identity?  Transgender

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face?  Came out when the AIDS epidemic was rampant 1985

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Struggling everyday to stay alive!

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Met a transgender woman when I was about 8 yo she was amazing and showed me it was possible and to live life no matter what

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Jack from will & grace outrageous !and funny. Loving but sharp shooting w his tongue

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Via Internet

Describe your geographical community.  Pittsburgh is fine but I live in the Mon Valley. And its terrible to be lgbtq around these parts. People are starting to come around and see us more but some turn a blind ey to even their own child

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Full of drama and judgmental assholes. Always worried about other people’s business

Help us continue to tell these stories. Donate to #AMPLIFY today!

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public.  All the time !Everyday
Supermarket & stores in general people are rude and very unforgiving. Like they hate you but they aren’t going to do anything about it. Still the disdain is quite obvious

Tell us about your access to health care in Western PA. Has it been LGBTQ competent (or not?) I’ve been very fortunate and had great care but I seen many with nothing and I expect it to get worse

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yes the aging lgbtq population. We are all getting older and nobody addresses that we will need some facilty we get treated like with respect

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Laws that protect lgbtq residents. And leave our healthcare alone

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I organize fundraisers for local charities and people in need
I perform drag shows to help others in the area. whether is someone with cancer or an old movie house with 100 yo story that they want to save. So I’m well-known in this area
The first thing everyone asks me right after they say hello is. “Are you still doing your shows?” Everywhere I go I get asked that everytime. I proudly respond every weekend !!!

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Financial burden is a terrible affliction. We broke cus we cant work we cant work because discrimination lack of actual employment leads to unconventional and sometimes illegal activities or and desperate measures.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? No response.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  That no one will care for us if we age

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania?  That we all prosper !

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Open a communication and try to understand we are just looking to live and survive as they all do

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? By being less jaggofs to one another

What motivated you to take part in this project? That is about local western pa has been my home for 25 years I lived here longer than anywhere els in my life. Ive learned to survive in a place where there was absolutely no one like me. At All. Theere where no trans no gays no femm men not even latino or any other ethnicity. Just Italians and rednecks hillbilly type people. And it was the biggest culture shock clash ever !!

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Are we happy with the progress made in LGBTQ life in the country. ?
My answer is
Its not just enough.
They need to help lgbtq people in prisons , hospitals , mental wards, rehab facilities
Its a whole other world to be gay and not be understood by the people who are trying to help you.

Thank you, Jez.

Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.

Submit your own Q&A using our online form.

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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