What is your name and age?
Stephanie Marielle Lawless – 29
How do you identify?
Female in most regards but more specifically as a Non-binary Transgender Woman.
What is your occupation?
Retail Accounts Management. I also volunteer in my spare time as the Transgender Support Facilitator for the Human Dignity Coalition.
When did you come out as LGBTQ?
To myself as knowing I was female: 7
To others as not being heterosexual: 15, this consistently evolved from that age and I now consider myself attracted to all genders (pansexual).
To friends and family as being transgender: 26-28
At work, including customers: One month ago
How have things changed since you came out?
I have since ended contact with my parents over it but have gained a stronger bond with my sister who lives in Portland and have gained several strong friendships with people who appreciate me for me. Gender dysphoria doesn’t trouble me as much anymore and I’m starting to feel strong enough to be myself anywhere in public and not worry as much as to what others might think of me. I feel like I have purpose in life finally and can express myself with no retribution for being feminine unlike how I used to be.
How long have you lived in Central Oregon, and what brought you here?
My parents transplanted us in March 1997 from Big Bear, California to seek a better job economy, a better quality of life, and to get away from the San Andreas fault. I moved myself to Springfield, Oregon in 2010 for a job promotion and to consider being my true self in a more socially liberal environment but quickly realized it was the network of friends I built here in Central Oregon that I needed around me to consider starting transition regardless of the more socially moderate environment here.
What’s your favorite thing about living here?
The true four seasons of weather but especially the thunderstorms during monsoon season, crystal clear stargazing at night, spelunking at any of the numerous caves, witnessing the constant change and growth of the area, and all of the pristine natural beauty everywhere throughout Central Oregon. I also appreciate the diversity of things to do in and out of town and the passion everyone has in whichever activity one partakes in. Our local beer and cider scene is quite impressive as well.
What would you like to see change?
A local daily LGBTQ social venue/bar is long overdue for our community and I feel is in strong demand. The constant gendering of everything in society is in my eyes so obsessive that it’s quite comical how much focus we put on something essentially so trivial. Pens specifically for women? Body wash specific for men? Needless! We’re all human and that should be the focus. On that topic, single stall genderless restrooms allow those that don’t fit into one of two categories to avoid having to choose between getting potentially scorned or potentially assaulted simply over taking care of bodily functions. LGBTQ issues aside, I’d love for Bend to get a full ice center in the winter for hockey, figure skating, and curling.
What would you tell an LGBTQ person who’s thinking of moving to the area?
This isn’t the Western side of Cascades so finding others who are also LGBTQ is a bit more difficult but definitely not impossible. There are several events put on by the Human Dignity Coalition and Stars & Rainbows to help connect the community that are a MUST to be part of. Central Oregonians are much more open-minded than I think they get credit for when it comes to accepting you for who you are or who you love. If you’re thinking about living open in Central Oregon, the chances are others already know someone that is gay. They may not know someone who is transgender yet but they are often willing to listen and learn from you and your experience.
If you could give a piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Just be you and don’t let others dictate who you’re supposed to be. All of that hyper-masculinity you’re exuding to everyone is not only harming you but also giving everyone else a false image of who you are. It’s OK for things to be “cute” or “pretty” or to cry and be emotional. You are truly beautiful, strong, and courageous for enduring everyone and everything that would rather see you stay the boy you are than see the woman you’ll become, keep your head held high! Oh, and quit purging your stash of girly things. You’ll regret tossing anything out.
Who/what do you want to be when you “grow up”?
It would be rewarding to continue doing transgender advocacy but someday I’d like to do it on a larger scale then what I do now. I also am passionate about the Cascadian Secessionist Movement as I feel the Pacific Northwest would be best off self-governing its uniquely beautiful, self-sustaining, & distinctly different land. It may be a pipe dream but all accomplishments start with exactly that, a dream. On a more personal note, I’d love to simply be happy with whatever future endeavor I partake in. If I could somehow have Anthony Bourdain’s life, I would be ecstatic.
Who are your role models—LGBTQ and otherwise?
My list of Trans* Women platonic crushes includes but isn’t limited to:
Christina Kahrl, Julia Serano, Parker Marie Malloy, Laura Jane Grace, Isley Reust, Christina Lugo, Lana Wachowski, Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Kristin Beck, & Brynn Tannehill.
Gandhi put it best, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”