Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Sharing The Stories Of Pittsburgh's Transgender Community

This year’s Pittsburgh Pride Week will have the most extensive spotlight on transgender communities so far.
This year’s Pittsburgh Pride Week will have the most extensive spotlight on transgender communities so far.
Credit "2 Political Junkies" / Blogger

This year’s Pittsburgh Pride Week will have the most extensive spotlight on transgender communities so far.

Jessica McGuiness is a former EMT who transitioned from male to female over the last 10 years, and she shared her story about living in Pittsburgh and how growing up was difficult for her.

While working as an EMT, McGuiness started to undergo the process of becoming a female. McGuiness says she was a quiet person and kept to herself, even as her coworkers would degrade transgender patients coming through the hospital, right in front of her. She said it took her some time to become comfortable coming out to them, or anyone.

“Even at the time, I thought that if I ever came out at work, I wouldn’t be accepted, or, you know, it might make my work like horrible," she said. "After a lot of thought, I figured I was in a position, then, to really do a lot of good. By my coming out, maybe I can prove to them that this isn’t just something you see on talk shows, and that we are normal, everyday people. And by coming out, showing them I am one of them; this happens to us, too.”

Post-Gazette reporter Mike Fuoco profiled six local transgender people for a series on their communities and further discusses the struggles that these people face not just in Pittsburgh, but in the entire state. Fuoco talked about protections that are lacking for transgender people, but how Pittsburgh is improving on these problems.

“There’s problems," he said. "In 29 states it’s legal to fire someone, or not hire them, for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Although, interestingly enough, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County both have ordinances on the book, that make it illegal to do that. They’ve included transgender in LGB, so you cannot discriminate in Allegheny County.”

Fuoco also mentions that transgender communities have been taken under the wing of gay communities in recent years, adding the “T” to the LGBT community. These communities have received more rights, as early as in recent weeks, and Fuoco is hoping good things will follow for the transgender communities. 

“In the past, the transgender community has allowed the LGB community to carry their flag in their fight," he said. "Now, it’s time. The spotlight is on transgender, because there has been such an exponential increase in gay rights, the transgender community is lagging behind that. I think what you’re going to see is more visibility and more talk about transgender equality.”

Pittsburgh PrideFest kicks off at 1 p.m. June 15. The celebration of Pittsburgh gay communities will take place on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. According to the Pittsburgh Pride website, the festivities promise to be even bigger than last year and will include over 150 vendors, family friendly carnival games and inflatable attractions.