In September 2014, Théo Pavlich found an apartment in Cleveland, Ohio that was the perfect distance from both his college and workplace. An acquaintance of his was already a tenant, so he signed onto the lease and moved in. Shortly thereafter, problems began to arise that Théo had not anticipated. His landlord learned Théo was a transgender man – that is, was born and raised female but knew from a young age that that didn’t quite fit, and so he transitioned to live every day as the man he has long known himself to be. When the landlord found out, he asked Théo to leave the apartment – an all-too-common instance of anti-transgender housing discrimination. Because of Ohio’s lack of explicit LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, Théo had no recourse and was forced to quit school and move in with his parents.
“I contacted housing advocates about fighting the eviction, but there are no protections statewide for LGBTQ people,” Théo said. “I was working full-time for minimum wage, so even with the advocates’ support, I didn’t have the money or resources to invest in a complaint. When I think about the idea of moving again, it’s terrifying,” he said. “I don’t know what another landlord would be like. Being transgender always brings the questions of, ‘Why am I being denied something? Is it specifically because I’m transgender?’ It brings this feeling of being inferior somehow. There’s so much more to every transgender person…I’m trans, but I’m a writer, a Broncos fan, a dog owner; there are so many other facets of who I am.”