L.E.

Richmond, VA

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My name is L.E. I am an improv performer, a workshop presenter, and a transgender woman.  I was born and raised in Milwaukee, but moved to Richmond a couple years ago. I have performed comedy for 15 years, and it has been an important outlet for me to express my authentic self. In the past couple of years, I began to live openly as a transgender woman, and I’m lucky to be accepted in my job and in my comedy performances, though I have friends who haven’t been as fortunate.

 

Transitioning into my womanhood has been the best thing that’s ever happened in my life. It was like a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders once I was able to be myself most of the time. This has allowed me to be more confident and outspoken since I no longer have to hide parts of myself. I think everyone should feel this way, so I started volunteering with LGBT youth, to show younger people that they can do anything and be anyone they want to be. Similarly, I’ve taught several improv classes for LGBT people so that they have the same outlet I have had to express their identities in an empowering and open atmosphere. I’ve also done improv camps with the 50 Fund in Alabama where kids met a transgender person for the first time and it really opened up their eyes to our shared humanity.

 

I don’t expect folks to understand everything about being transgender, but you don’t need to know everything about someone to treat them with respect. We all want the same things: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is no good reason transgender Virginians can’t have the same protections under the law in housing, employment and public accommodations. As someone who travels the country for work, I can tell you there is definite fear when going to states where I don’t have equal protections.  Without protections, we are left vulnerable to violence and exploitation. I want to live in a state where people are safe to be who they really are. Our country succeeds when people are allowed to work, live, and create in an environment where they are able to flourish. I support nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations because everyone should be given the space to not just survive, but to thrive.