"I just grew up a girl," London Lowery-Neal, 29, said. Lowery-Neal beginning living full time as female at five years old with the support of her family, who live in Toledo. London's Godmother is transgender and London said her own mother supported her - even helping London pick out her name at age 11. London and her finance consider themselves married and have recently taken temporary custody of London's five nieces and nephews. It's not always easy, but she says she's happy. "The challenge has become a way of living. I'm alive," London said. "I'm not being beat up in a dark alley. I've got great family and friends. As far as being in this life, I love it. I wouldn't change a thing."
Lilian Briggs is a Toledo-based activist for a number of causes, including youth homelessness, and transgender youth. She is Director of Development at Toledo Streets Newspaper and the Executive Director of The Promise House Project, a organization dedicated to helping LGBTQQIA and heterosexual homeless and runaway youth ages 14-24.
"I always felt like a little piece of me was missing" Aran Reinhart said, "and then I discovered that I was a man, not the woman I had thought I was, and suddenly life made sense." Aran's faith as a Quaker was founded, in part, in their acceptance of him as a trans man. Until recently, Aran lived in the home his father built for their family decades ago in a rural part of Ohio.
"This is zen," Tayia Demonica, 21, said of the river trails she often wanders along the Maumee in Perrysburg. For a time Tayia believed herself to be gender fluid, but is now at the beginning of her transition from male to female. Without health insurance she cannot afford the hormone therapy or counseling she will need in order to move forward with any surgery. Still, she says she feels much more at peace having realized she is a trans woman. Tayia is also proud to be one year clean of self-harm. She had begun cutting at about 13 years old as a way to deal with her deep unhappiness. "I just felt helpless," she said, adding that embracing herself as a woman is something she was able to do because of her support system. "Now I have a lot of awesome people around me that are wiling to help and support me."
"We're just like other people and the more I can help the trans community be accepted the better," Edie Recker, 67, right, said. She and her wife Karen Niese, 59, were recently married. Edie transitioned at a time when few people were doing so publicly. She helped found a support group for trans people and their allies in Toledo and regularly guest lectures about trans issues at Bowling Green State University and other institutions. Since 2010 she has a number of surgeries, including facial feminization, vocal cord surgery and gender reassignment surgery. "I am who I am. I'm happy with who I am. I'm glad I've done what I've done," Edie said.