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How Transgender-Friendly is Portland? (I'm Strongly Considering Portland as my Next Home)

Greetings Portlanders!

My name's Cristina and this is my first post on here (hopefully it's not my last).  Nice to meet you all! 

My questions I want to toss out there are... how Transgender-friendly is Portland in terms of people's general attitudes?  Or with employment?

Just to fill you in a bit, I'm 29 and Transgendered.  I happily identify as being a woman through and through.  It's been nine months since I first came out (but have always known as a long as I can remember).  I feel very confident and strong as I progress further in my Transitioning and challenge myself often.

I know it's always dangerous to generalize.... I promise not to hold you to it! :o)  To give you an idea of what I mean by those questions, let me answer those questions in terms of Asheville. 

Asheville is more a hub than a destination.  Because so many people come and go, it's hard to establish a local economy that's based on community-oriented, equal opportunity businesses.  A majority of businesses that exist have employees who are incumbents and hold jobs for many years.  Other businesses are facing hard times and closing down. 

A majority of other employers crash within less than a year.  The majority of other jobs are on the outskirts of downtown Asheville where it's extremely conservative.  So when you hear, Asheville's "weird" or "liberal"... it truly means the nine blocks that make up downtown, making up less than 7% of Asheville.

When it comes to my own personal experiences of looking for work, I receive a lot of animosity and discomfort from hiring managers.  Basically, a lot of things that wouldn't normally fly in cities like Boston, fly happen here.  My current employer feels that "I'm a lawsuit waiting to happen" and has extended my new employee probationary period so that I can be let go at any time without question.

With teaching, I have had difficulties in trying to find more employment in education.  Despite having been awarded for an exceptional year of teaching and afterschool programming, administrators in more liberal public schools still suffer from ranging degrees of Transphobia.

In terms of general safety and general acceptance levels of Transgendered people....

I generally "pass" (being physically interpreted as the sex I'm trying to portray) and don't encounter as many problems.  At the beginning of my Transition, I was assaulted at night.  Due to NC's lack of extended hate crime laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity, all I could do was place a restraining order and that's it.  As a result, this information does not get recorded officially by the police and gives the appearance that LGBTQ hate crimes don't happen here.

Without a car, it's definitely a dangerous place to be at night or while walking on the main roads.

Also, in the past couple of years, immigrants and LGBTQ folks have seen a significant increase of violence.  This information is being compiled by local organizations.


With that said, I want to be able to live somewhere where I can live a lot more at peace.  I'm definitely not expecting a utopia in Portland.  I've just been ignoring myself for so many years fighting for so many causes here.  I have a large presence in community organizing for immigrant and queer rights.  A part of me feels like I should stay and fight.  My departure would not mean the end of the world, but it would mean that lots of initiatives may be left incomplete.  But at the same time, I'm looking to move somewhere where I can heal, grow, make new friends, smile, and let the woman in me experience and have fun.

So, that's me!  Thanks for reading my dissertation!  Hehe!  I'm generally a goofball, seriously!

Much love,
Cristina


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Hi there Cristina,

From what I know, the LGBTQ community is very welcome and very at home here in Portland. I have never really heard of any hate crimes or seen/experienced any gayphobia of any kind. I live in urban Portland and can't speak for the burbs but at large, I think Portland is known as a very diverse and very safe city.

Best wishes! -Angela
Angela,

Thank you for your response! Perhaps you'd know of any Trans support groups in the area that you could pass along my way?

This part here isn't necessarily directed at you specifically but with the forum in general....

In Boston or Asheville (the two places I've lived the longest), Lesbians and Gays are significantly more accepted or may have an easier time with employment, safety, etc. due to the fact that there can be no physical indicators or that the assimilation process in mainstream US American culture has made them more "normal" through celebrities, media, and the same-sex marriage movement. Name 10 gay/lesbian celebrities, now name 10 trans celebrities.

Now, I'm not saying that it's easy at all to be Lesbian or Gay, or that equality has been achieved. But that the comparison between Lesbians/Gays and Transgendered folk is as similar as comparing protons & neutrons to quarks and muons (in terms of where in the core these develop in our identity; the atomic vs. the sub-atomic). There may be advancements with acceptance of sexual orientation outside of the heteronormativity, but there's a silent war raging on a sub-level with gender expression and Trans folks. Talking to Queer friends, they tell me that there are these things that even they haven't considered.

Also, there's a large body of older generation Lesbians and Gays who are quite resistant towards supporting Trans-equality movements... despite having been rooted in the same history.

So with that said, I don't mean to drag this on too long. It's just that these are some serious things I'm trying to get a feel for.


And, Angela, your care and thoughts are greatly, greatly appreciated!

Best wishes,
Cristina
Hi Cristina,
I didn't want to give some pat answer to your question, as it is thought-provoking and clearly a challenging issue. Personally, I love Portland and would love to paint it in a rosy light to all who ask me about it, because I truly have never been more comfortable anywhere else (so I tend to see what I want to see--mostly good things). I would not want to misrepresent things to you based on a desire to give you some sense of Portland. The transgendered individuals whom I've known personally in Portland have faced their own battles - but not so much due to Portland at large and it's attitudes, as much as it can be a tough personal issue to face on many levels individually, regardless of where you live (as you've noted, with employers, etc.). In general, Portland does have an open minded, accepting, and liberal attitude towards people. We embrace individuality in all forms. While indeed, this acceptance may be centered in Portland proper and not so much more conservative surrounding areas, we just seem more accepting and open minded in general. It is a generalization though, because you are right in that you can't stereotype an entire city or populace. However, the larger West Coast cities, in general, are widely recognized to be more liberal than say the South or Midwest.

Here are some transgender support resources in Portland:
http://www.sarabecker.com/t/support_groups.htm

Life is short - I say you deserve to live in a place where you can get the most peace, happiness and good times out of your daily life. Good luck!
I'm not sure how much friendlier you'll find it here. I face employment discrimination here, my employer and it's management support "gay" people but they are not accepting of transgender issues. They constantly try to force me to be male, even though I am really not. I am denied job skill training and advancement opportunities based on the fact that I do not portray "male" as they think I should, I am not allowed to be myself at all. they are always sarcastically calling me "sir" and try to force me to go by a male name even though I have repeatedy told them not to do that. They make fun of my figure and try to force food on me to try and make me fat.
Out in public there are a lot of tough people who would gladly beat the crap out of me if they had a chance to, based on what they percieve as female then find out I'm male.
I don't care for the city government here, the mayor is a liar and they have not been able to push him out of office. The justice system constantly turns loose people who are drug dealers and people who are violent offenders.
I don't know how much better other places are to live, but I would not call Portland the "great place to live" that a lot of people do. It is loaded with crime, violence and pollution of the air and water. It is overcrowded and traffic is terrible. Rich people have their way and do whatever they want and take money from poorer people who have no say in the matter. Property taxes are too high and they do not use the money properly, then say they do not have enough and always want more.
I don't want to discourage you from moving here but I am telling you like it is, and you can decide. I am being honest with you.
Cristina
Are you still in Ashville right now? This is a weird coincidence but I and my family live in oak Ridge Tn right now and will be moving to Portland in just over a month. have you got your travel figured out yet? If not maybe we could car pool it or convoy together (if you don't mind kids).

You are so right to bust out of the bible belt even if Ashville NC is a lot more progressive than Knoxville. As for Charlenes comments maybe she should try living down here it might be a rude awakening.

Well what ever your plans drop me a line maybe we can save some travel cash together?
"As for Charlenes comments maybe she should try living down here it might be a rude awakening."
touchet! now allow me to clarify, I've lived here my whole life and I am just trying to be honest with you all about it here. And no, I do not want to live at any of the places you've mentioned.
One thing we can all agree on, is none of us wants to live next to an off shore oil disaster.
My wish to you all, is where ever you decide to call home may you find peace and happiness because rarely do people find it anywhere these days.
Sorry if I hit a slightly strident tone there its just that as an atheist with socialist and very progressive leanings I can't imaging that my new home will offer any of the sexual, racial and political lunacy that is all too common here.

40 days and counting!
that's Ok on the tone, I am bigger than to be offended by words. you must have had your reasons.
my friend there are lunatics and rednecks everywhere, they are here in Portland too but probably just not as bad as where you are. I have learned how to avoid them and stay safe but I have lived here all my life so I know how to watch out for myself here. check out the local news on oregonlive.com and you can see for yourself what is going on here. don't go by what you read in the travel magazines they are going to paint you a rosy picture of the city of roses, it may be beautiful on the surface but every rose has it's thorns and there are some big sharp ones here. careful you do not get jabbed by them.
Hey Cristina...

First I want to say that this is complete subjective.....

I would think that Portland would be one of the best cities in America for Transgenders. Though I have very little clue about the employment laws/environment regarding transgenders , the attitude of the people I have found is one of acceptance and open mindedness. I have always felt safe in this city, and personally fell that the city has a good Urban/small town balance. I might be living in a bubble and violence can of course happen any where, but I would think that it would be very rare for you to be assaulted our harassed specifically for being trans gender. Just my 2 cents, best wishes to you

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