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Karen
Loudon County, VA
Karen is a transgender woman in Loudon County, Virginia – and she knows that for the most part, her experience transitioning has been positive. She was raised as a boy, but she knew from a young age that that didn’t feel quite right, and so in her mid-20s, she transitioned to live everyday as the woman she long knew herself to be. She was delighted that her family supported her as she transitioned, and she was also able to stay at the same job while transitioning. Despite the positive environment, however, she has still experienced discrimination: Her workplace required her to get medical surgery before she would be able to use the women’s restroom at work, even as she continued presenting and living as the woman that she is. “The best offer was a single occupancy facility that made me feel like the whole company was watching me,” Karen said. “Ultimately, I had to accept their decision because the alternative was going my job. You shouldn’t have to get a medical procedure to use the appropriate restroom or keep your job!”
She has been involved with the LGBTQ community in Virginia through the organization Equality Fairfax, where she learned so much about advocating for equality and the importance of sharing her story. “We can always find common ground if we can find  away to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes,” Karen said. “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.”
Read More Stories By:  Equality Virginia

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