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Elizabeth Coffey Williams
Philadelphia, PA

As a young adult in Philadelphia in 1972, Elizabeth Coffey Williams transitioned from male to female – she was born male, but for years, she knew herself deeply to be female and she wanted to live each day as the woman she had long known herself to be. Throughout her transition, Elizabeth found support and creative energy as part of filmmaker John Waters’ regular ensemble of cast and crew members. Later, she moved to Illinois with her husband, becoming involved in producing concerts at music venues and designing beautiful quilts. But life was not without its challenges for Elizabeth: She was shocked one night when she required emergency gallbladder surgery and was dismissed by the surgeon. The doctor told her: “You’re going to have to go to Chicago or Madison, wherever they treat people like you.”

“Many, many people have faced worse discrimination day-to-day than I have,” Elizabeth reflected. But just hearing those words, ‘someone like you,’ he was judging my totality. The fact that I was a woman who had a long-ago transition was, and is, almost irrelevant to me. Standing up, unapologetically as an out trans woman performer and artist over 40 years ago – that was an act of extreme defiance.”

Photographs by Kristy Lumsden Photography

Read More Stories By:  SAGE

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