by Kate Sweeney

Kindess and Courage: Rochelle

AGE: 37

Pronouns: SHE/HER/HERS

What has been the most surprising aspect of transition for you? The most surprising aspect is how normal I feel within my own body now. I always knew something was wrong, but had no idea what it was. Those feelings are gone. As a result, I have more confidence and I’m more outgoing and sociable than I was before.

In your experience, what’s been the best thing about living authentically? The absolute best thing is that every day I look in the mirror and see the person I’ve always felt like on the inside. My outward appearance finally matches my personality. I’m more me than I’ve ever been before.

In your experience, what’s been the biggest challenge related to living authentically? Dating is the hardest part. Just like everyone else, I’m trying to find someone with similar interests and who I’m compatible with emotionally and intellectually. However, even if I find someone like that, they also have to be willing to date a trans person.

What kind of environment is Central Ohio for a TGNC (Trans or Gender Nonconforming) person?  I love Columbus. I haven’t had any bad experiences out in public, even during my awkward transition year. I have a great group of friends who accepted and supported me after I came out. Also, there are many LGBT organizations and events around town where I’ve made new friends.

What question(s) do you wish people would stop asking you? Why?  Not so much a question, but I wish people I know would stop outing me as trans in public. It’s frustrating to go to a party and meet someone new who already knows I’m trans because one of my friends told them ahead of time. Another thing that happens is that someone will make a comment about me being trans in front of other people that may not know. I’m pretty open with my status, but would like some control over who that information gets shared with.

What do you want to share about your experience as a TGNC person that most people might not know about?Accepting I was trans, coming out to people, and the actual transition process was incredibly hard. However, it was completely worth it. I still have the same day-to-day struggles as I did before. Life isn’t perfect, but a major source of sadness and depression is just gone from my life and that feels amazing.

What’s a book, movie, or TV show you’d want people exposed to so they could learn more about the TGNC experience? Why? I like Sense 8 on Netflix. It’s not really about being trans, but there is a trans character played by a trans actress. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a trans character in a romantic scene.

What’s the most interesting thing about you (unrelated to your gender identity)? I’ve been drawing a webcomic for 15 years. I’ve run eight marathons, and lost track of how many half marathons. I play the drums. I’ve told stories at a couple open mics. Ideally, I would like “being trans” to not be in the top 10 things that are interesting about me.

What do you think is the most important concrete action allies could take to help support the TGNC community in Columbus? Obviously the big one would be to speak out and protest against any anti-trans legislation that may be introduced. Besides that, treat trans people like anyone else. Speaking for myself: unless I bring it up, I usually don’t want to talk about being trans or answer questions about it.