Three years ago, the alliance began an online Trans NEPA Discussion Group and drew about a dozen regulars.
So in her willingness to share her story, Kaylee is unlike most Northeast Pennsylvania transgender people, who lead quiet, even reclusive lives taking jobs that require little interaction with the public. The journey of transgender people is often difficult and painful, one that fractures families and severs friendships.
Legal recognition for their marriages is a worthwhile legal pursuit, said National Center for Transgender Equality communications director Vincent Villano, but a marriage license and wedding cake seems exotic.
Fear of being found out, or of being outed even by a well-meaning friend.
Living south of Wilkes-Barre, Kaylee knows for some people, the reaction to encountering a transgender person is violence.
Kaylee doesn’t participate in the activities of local LGBT groups.
She doesn’t frequent bars where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups are welcome.
Ted Martin, executive director of Harrisburg-based Equality PA, frequently reminds media and lawmakers that the group also works on behalf of transgender people.
“The transgender community remains perhaps the most discriminated-against group in the country, and it may be the last group against whom discrimination is viewed as acceptable,” he said.“It needs to be said again and again that transgender people are part of our mission.” On Equality PA’s website, a visitor will see statewide statistics on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey but when clicking on a link “To See the Latest on Advancing Transgender Rights” see “Post Not Found.” John Dawe, executive director of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance in Plains Twp., said “LGBTQ (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning)” appears as one big happy acronym.The growing catch-all is a collection of sexual or gender minorities that don’t necessarily socialize or understand each other, he said. It took years for the NEPA Rainbow Alliance to have some sort of outreach to the tiny, largely invisible local transgender population.Jake Danna Stevens / Staff Photographer JAKE DANNA STEVENS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Kaylee, a transgender woman, rings a small bell to signal a change of topic during a meeting after a service at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wyoming Valley.Robert wears button-down shirts and sneakers Monday through Friday.“My biggest fear is that somebody finds out and beats me to death,” she said, cutting the silence that follows with a nervous laugh.