Loudoun County, VA

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My name is Karen. I am a software engineer, a wife, and a transgender woman. As long as I can remember while growing up in the Baltimore suburbs, I knew that I was transgender girl, however I feared to tell anyone. By the time I reached my mid-twenties, hiding who I was led me to slide into a hole emotionally and I was afraid of where I was headed. I got help to get out of that place, and that led me to decide to transition to the woman I always knew myself to be. Almost all of my family was fantastic in accepting me, and I’m so grateful for their support.


I managed to stay at the same job while I transitioned, and I was glad they supported me in most areas. Unfortunately, they wanted me to get surgery before they would let me use the women’s restroom, which made no sense to me. Their best offer was a single occupancy facility that made me feel like the whole company was watching me. Ultimately, I had to accept their decision because the alternative was losing my job. You shouldn’t have to get a medical procedure to use the appropriate restroom or keep your job!  It was also a frightening experience to get my first apartment after transitioning, because my landlady ran a credit check and couldn’t find any information associated with my new legal name. I had to explain to her that I was transgender, and I feel extremely lucky that she listened kindly and still let me rent the place.


I moved to Virginia for a new job, and eventually got involved with the local LGBT community through Equality Fairfax. This led me to begin educating groups about transgender issues by sharing my story. We can always find common ground if we can find a way to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. I wanted people to know I was making the decision to live my best life and I hope everyone can do the same.  I’ve been very lucky. I never lost a job or was denied housing because of who I was, but those dangers were always there. My life may have turned out very differently if I had lost my job or been unable to find safe, secure housing. I’ve never been denied service or harassed in public, and I know I’m very fortunate that I just get to live my life without feeling this threat hanging over me. I do have friends who have been fired or who have been harassed in public spaces. I want them to be safe and be able to live without the fear of this ever happening again. Nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations would give everyone that dignity and peace of mind.


*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.