87 Trans Stories From Western Pennsylvania Honor Trans Awareness Week 2020

Transgender Awareness Week
Image is representative of the archive and not intended to literally represent all contributors individually.

The week before Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, we have Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues the community faces.

Since 2015, the #AMPLIFY project has curated first person Q&A’s with members of the region’s LGBTQ community. The archive is meant to be a permanent resource to understand the LGBTQ experience(s) of this era. We invite you to browse the entire archive at your convenience.

This year has been particularly brutal – we’ve lost at least 34 trans neighbors to violence, a new horrific record of sorts. The impact of the pandemic have been magnified through the lens of trans neighbors, including but not limited to being misgendered because of wearing life-saving face masks.

But resiliency and determination to thrive has been a hallmark of the trans community since time immoriam. That doesn’t excuse our tacit acceptance of a transphobic culture, but it does offer moments of hope and insight. Several Black trans women have been at the forefront of resistance to police violence and toxic anti-Blackness among law enforcement. SisTers Pgh held a successful virtual People’s Pride event, while Trans Pride Pittsburgh also had a tele-conference to educate and connect people. Garden of Peace has carved out Sanctuary for the trans community. Six trans candidates won their elections, smashing the cis-ceiling with a resounding blow. The LGBTQ Victory Fund reports that the total number of transgender elected officials nationwide will jump from an existing 28 to 32 when new winners take office next year. Groundbreaking series POSE captured numerous awards and raised the profile of the mostly BIPOC cast and crew.

When I realized that COVID-19 was going to require face masks for everyone, I asked TransPride Pittsburgh to partner with me to 1) get masks to the community and 2) center trans and queer neighbors. The Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT emerged to address concrete needs that are unique to our communities, with a special emphasis on the trans community.

Our work as a blog and my own choices as an individual have been informed very directly by the AMPLIFY project. We ask people to describe their own identity so it is possible there are other trans voices amongst the narrative, but these self-identified contributors represent 26% of our total contributors. Data from 2016 shows that about .6% of adults living in the United States identify as transgender so the trans community is well-represented in the AMPLIFY data.

And we’d love to include your story as we move forward. Click here to fill out the Q&A. It takes about 30 minutes of your time. You can control what name you use and make the decision about using a photo. Anyone who meets these criteria can contribute

  • Identify as part of the LGBTQ community (however you define that)
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have ties to at least one of the 26 counties in Western Pennsylvania (you also define what constitutes a tie)

That’s it. You can submit your story today if you like.

These Q&A’s are not in any particular order, but you can find the full chronological archive on this website. Note that we now include gender nonconforming identities as part of this list. As always, we respect how people identify even if it doesn’t line up with what we expect.


    1. alexis, 29, talks compensation & community for marginalized lgbtq neighbors
    2. Rashod Is An Unapologetic Trans Man of Color
    3. Donna Met a Female Impersonator Who Made a Lasting Impression
    4. Katie-Anne Speaks As Two Spirited Bi Gendered Resident of Johnstown
    5. Twist Shares Their Life as Neuroqueer
    6. CJ Describes Living Stealth As A Trans Man
    7. Patrouious Describes His Fears & Frustrations as a Trans Man in McKean County
    8. Sivynn Acknowledges That Some People Just Don’t Pay Attention to His Transition
    9. Brandon Believes Pittsburgh Should Have Better Trans Health Resources
    10. Jesse Believes in the Power of [Trans]cendence
    11. Jessi is a Trans Lesbian Who Asks Questions
    12. Kitty Is Out and Open as a Bisexual Trans Woman in Erie County
    13. Alex is a Black Trans Man Who Doesn’t Apologize For His Existence
    14. Jesse Talks About Living as a Trans Woman in a Culture of Fear
    15. Kaley is Trans, Queer and a Fan of Gender Outlaws
    16. Roman Knows to the Depths of His Soul That He Is a Man #AMPLIFY
    17. Niki Talks About Living as a Gender Queer Trans Woman in Pittsburgh
    18. Jazmine, 46, Has Advice for LGB Allies to the Trans Community
    19. Moira Describes the Toll of Gatekeeping on the Trans Community
    20. Elliot is Bi, Trans and Wishes Westmoreland County Was Talking More About Queer Youth
    21. Corvus Regrets the Lack of Sober, Radical, Queer, and Disability Friendly Community in Pgh
    22. Cavanaugh, 25, Talks About Genderflux Identity and the Value of Self-Care
    23. Alyssa is First Generation Cuban American, Trans, Gender Nonconforming and from Beaver County
    24. Sabrina, 50, Found New Friends When She Came Out as Trans
    25. Alissa, 34, is Just Another Girl in the Crowd in Lawrence County
    26. Austin, 30, is a Straight Trans Man from Washington County
    27. Tylor, 30, is a Pansexual Trans Man Who Wants Better for Young People
    28. Bobby, 50, Queer Trans Guy, White Anti-Racism Activist
    29. Wes, 44: Queer Trans Man, Parent Wants You To Know That He Exists
    30. Patricia, 41, Does Not Feel Safe as a Trans Woman in Her Urban Pgh Suburb
    31. Avery is a Bisexual, Latino Tran Man in Cambria County
    32. Delilah, 31, Finds Trans Community on Twitter
    33. Caitlyn 51, Lives Her Authentic Self as a Trans Woman in Erie
    34. ‘Your Story Can Heal’ Says Rain, 26
    35. Samantha, 44, Wants Better Health Choices for the Trans Community
    36. Ciora, 27, Says Trans People Have the Strength of Two Souls
    37. Lavi, 29, is Trans Queer Bi and Wants Your Respect & Support
    38. Vi, 24, Is Very Concerned About Trans Health Issues in Pittsburgh
    39. Alexia, 40, is Bisexual, Transgender, and Loves Pittsburgh
    40. Jez, 50, Came Out As Trans in 1985 in Rural Washington County
    41. Bobbi Jo, 63, is a Transgender Lesbian in Indiana County
    42. Mindy, 42, Lives Semi-Open as Trans in Rural Elk County
    43. Dylan, 28, is a Queer, Autistic Transgender Man
    44. Joel, 35, is Gay, a Trans Guy, Polyamorous, Christian, Parent, & Husband
    45. Scott, 53, is a Gay Man Exploring Transition & Identity Anew
    46. Seth, 21, Came Out as Bi and Trans Via Power Point
    47. Tyler, 18, is a Pansexual Trans Man in Erie
    48. Caiolin, 56, is Just Another Woman Who Happens To Be Trans
    49. Dawn, 33, Describes Life as a Trans Woman in Westmoreland County
    50. Ravenna, 37, Pansexual Trans Woman Living in the Allegheny County Suburbs
    51. Vanessa, 31, Describes Her Transition & Life as Pansexual in Washington County
    52. Lav, 29, a Queer Trans Gender Non Binary Mermaid Witch Warrior
    53. Vanessa, 31, Describes Her Transition & Life as Pansexual in Washington County
    54. Ravenna, 37, Pansexual Trans Woman Living in the Allegheny County Suburbs
    55. Dawn, 33, Describes Life as a Trans Woman in Westmoreland County
    56. Caiolin, 56, is Just Another Woman Who Happens To Be Trans
    57. Tyler, 18, is a Pansexual Trans Man in Erie
    58. Seth, 21, Came Out as Bi and Trans Via Power Point
    59. Scott, 53, is a Gay Man Exploring Transition & Identity Anew
    60. Joel, 35, is Gay, a Trans Guy, Polyamorous, Christian, Parent, & Husband
    61. Dylan, 28, is a Queer, Autistic Transgender Man
    62. Mindy, 42, Lives Semi-Open as Trans in Rural Elk County
    63. Bobbi Jo, 63, is a Transgender Lesbian in Indiana County
    64. Jez, 50, Came Out As Trans in 1985 in Rural Washington County
    65. Maria, 37, is a Queer Trans Latinx Challenging Us To Be Better Trans Allies
    66. Alexia, 40, is Bisexual, Transgender, and Loves Pittsburgh
    67. Madison, 40, is a Pansexual, Trans Woman Who Loves Pittsburgh
    68. Rae, 48, is a Pansexual Trans Woman Living in Allegheny County
    69. Leo, 24, Fears the Erasure of Nonbinary/Bisexual/Pansexual/Asexual/Demi Narratives in the Queer Community
    70. Brian, 32, is Trans, Nonbinary, and Queer in Westmoreland County
    71. Kat, 33, Shares Her Story as a Trans Woman to Find Some Peace
    72. Jay, 27, Discusses Challenges of Being a Straight Trans Man
    73. Allie, 51, Talks Living as a Trans Woman in Washington County
    74. Ian, 27, is a Gay Trans Man Resisting Gender Expectations
    75. Joslyn, 22, is a Trans Female Concerned About LGBTQ Mental Health Supports
    76. Maxwell, 22, is a Queer Trans Man from McKean County
    77. Bob, 24, is an autistic butch non binary lesbian. This is their story.
    78. Sarah, 38, Talks Transitioning in Her Rural Pennsylvania Community
    79. Eli, 41, is a Feminist Trans Man Describing Queer Life in Pittsburgh
    80. Anastasia, 55, is a Woman Who Identifies as a White Trans Lesbian in Pittsburgh
    81. Eli, 37, is a Queer Bisexual, Trans Man, and Small Business Owner
    82. Vincent, 54, is a Nonbinary Transmasculine & Queer Asian Pacific Islander in Pittsburgh
    83. Patrouious Achatz, 25, Compares LGBTQ+ Resources in Allegheny, Westmoreland, and McKean counties #AMPLIFYupdate
    84. Trans Woman Jayme Lyn, 59, Wants Us To Remember the ‘Mature’ Trans Community
    85. Marcia, 58, is Cisgender, Lesbian & Slightly Gender Nonconforming 
    86. Maddy, 23, is Queer and Gender Nonconforming in Allegheny County 
    87. Janet, 66, is Bisexual, Cisgender and Gender Nonconforming 

Still reading?

We have a few suggestions on how you might invest your coins in the work centering the trans community.

Donate to

There are many other great organizations doing important work. And there’s also the option to do something tangible for a trans person in your life – a gift card, pay for a meal, send a pizza – anything to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate your appreciation for their lived identity.

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