Corinne Goodwin, October 15, 2021

Dublin Core

Title

Corinne Goodwin, October 15, 2021

Description

Corinne Goodwin describes her childhood in Yonkers, Long Island, White Plains, NY, and Glen Falls; she focuses on her experiences as a transgender girl and the transphobia within her family. For example, she shares how her mother responded when she found feminine clothing in her room by exclaiming that it would “kill” her father if he found out. Corinne describes hiding her transgender identity from family after these formative experiences even as she continued to express her femininity in secret. Upon entering Eisenhower College, Corinne continued to be closeted, but developed important life-long friendships and met her future wife, Deb. When they married one year after college, Corinne discusses remaining in the closet even as she had “girl” days in which she was able to express her full self. In 1987, when she and Deb found out that Deb was pregnant, Corinne came out to her wife. The spouses developed routines in which Corinne could be her “real” self when Deb and her son visited relatives. Corrine also discusses her work life. She describes her 23-year career with Radio Shack, managing hundreds of stores within eastern PA; her work as Vice-President of Sales for Vonage; and her development of her own consulting business and then training and development business.

Once she left the corporate world and started her own businesses, Corine describes coming out fully between 2008-2014 to everyone in her life, including her clients and living full time as her real self. She describes different parts of her transition, including social, legal, and medical transition. In other parts of the interview, Corinne discusses the import of support groups, like Renaissance, and how she developed the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project with other community members as well as their major work in our communities.

Date

2021-10-11

Format

video

Identifier

LGBT-12

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Foltz, Mary

Interviewee

Goodwin, Corrine

Duration

01:33:58

OHMS Object Text

5.4 October 11th, 2021 Corinne Goodwin, October 15, 2021 LGBT-12 01:33:58 LVLGBT Stories from LGBT Older Adults in the Lehigh Valley Muhlenberg College: Trexler Library Oral History Repository This oral history recording was sponsored in part by the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium, with generous support provided by a grant to Lafayette College from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Goodwin, Corrine Foltz, Mary video/mov 1:|18(6)|42(6)|55(4)|64(15)|74(11)|83(14)|95(16)|106(5)|117(8)|128(11)|139(2)|148(10)|156(11)|165(2)|175(8)|186(10)|198(4)|210(14)|220(8)|228(1)|239(11)|250(7)|259(13)|269(8)|280(9)|291(6)|301(14)|313(15)|322(14)|334(9)|344(3)|354(6)|363(5)|371(4)|380(13)|389(4)|400(5)|408(3)|416(11)|426(9)|437(6)|447(9)|458(14)|467(11)|478(16)|489(8)|499(1)|509(15)|520(13)|533(7)|542(12)|556(4)|566(13)|578(7)|588(3)|596(8)|607(7)|617(13)|628(6)|637(4)|648(9)|659(11)|672(2)|682(2)|694(15)|707(12)|717(6)|728(9)|739(14)|750(10)|759(5)|769(3)|781(6)|790(10)|799(12)|812(2)|824(5)|835(11)|846(9)|857(4)|868(5)|878(4)|887(3)|896(14)|906(12)|918(2)|926(3)|937(9)|945(7)|956(12)|966(2)|977(9)|986(15)|1001(3) 0 https://youtu.be/CZvOsnjajNk YouTube video 0 Interview Introductions 129 Early Life 163 Early Gender Questioning 273 Experiences During Puberty/In High School 590 College Experience 682 Navigating Marriage and Gender Identity 745 Coming Out to Wife 928 Career 1378 Coming Out and Socially/Medically Transitioning 1594 Code Switching as a Trans Person 1846 Gender Performance and Overcompensating as a Trans Person 2062 Living Outside of the Gender Binary 2215 Pre-Internet Trans Representation 2381 Early Online Trans Support Groups 2496 Beginning of Lehigh Valley Renaissance 2575 Finding Renaissance in the 2000s 2878 Expanding Renaissance 2965 Inception of the Trans Equity Group 3082 Beginning of Renaissance's Large-Scale Events 3226 Partnering with the Bradbury-Sullivan Center 3277 Mission and Services of the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project 3712 Leadership Journey for the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project and Breaking Away from Renaissance 4097 Supporting Trans People and Their Partners 4378 Experiences Coming Out to Broader Circle 4521 Negotiating Transition with Spouse 4591 Evolution of Marriage 4891 Vision for the Future 4977 Plans for Trans Equity Project MovingImage Corinne Goodwin describes her childhood in Yonkers, Long Island, White Plains, NY, and Glen Falls ; she focuses on her experiences as a transgender girl and the transphobia within her family. For example, she shares how her mother responded when she found feminine clothing in her room by exclaiming that it would “kill” her father if he found out. Corinne describes hiding her transgender identity from family after these formative experiences even as she continued to express her femininity in secret. Upon entering Eisenhower College, Corinne continued to be closeted, but developed important life-long friendships and met her future wife, Deb. When they married one year after college, Corinne discusses remaining in the closet even as she had “girl” days in which she was able to express her full self. In 1987, when she and Deb found out that Deb was pregnant, Corinne came out to her wife. The spouses developed routines in which Corinne could be her “real” self when Deb and her son visited relatives. Corrine also discusses her work life. She describes her 23-year career with Radio Shack, managing hundreds of stores within eastern PA ; her work as Vice-President of Sales for Vonage ; and her development of her own consulting business and then training and development business. Once she left the corporate world and started her own businesses, Corine describes coming out fully between 2008-2014 to everyone in her life, including her clients and living full time as her real self. She describes different parts of her transition, including social, legal, and medical transition. In other parts of the interview, Corinne discusses the import of support groups, like Renaissance, and how she developed the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project with other community members as well as their major work in our communities. Mary Foltz Interview October 15, 2021 MARY FOLTZ: All right, I&#039 ; ll go ahead and start. My name is Mary Foltz, and I&#039 ; m here with Corinne Goodwin to talk about her life and experiences in LGBTQ organizations in the Lehigh Valley. This oral history is a part of the Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Oral History Project. Our project has funding from the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium. Corinne and I are meeting on Zoom. Today is October 15, 2021. We&#039 ; re meeting on Zoom because there&#039 ; s a crazy pandemic going on, and we&#039 ; re protecting Corinne&#039 ; s health. We certainly don&#039 ; t, I don&#039 ; t want to get her ill, so that&#039 ; s why we&#039 ; re here on Zoom today. Corinne, thank you so much for joining me today. CORINNE GOODWIN: I&#039 ; m really excited about it, thank you. MF: I&#039 ; m excited about it too. And just to start, a few quick questions, would you be willing to state your full name and spell it for me? CG: Sure, my name is Corinne Dawn Goodwin, my name is spelled C-O-R-I-N-N-E D-A-W-N G-O-O-D-W-I-N. MF: Thank you. Will you please share your birthday? CG: 10/30/59. MF: Okay. And I know you already signed a consent form, but I just want to review the consent for today. So, do you consent to this interview today? CG: Yes, absolutely. MF: Do you consent to this interview being transcribed, digitized, and made publicly available online in searchable formats? CG: I do. MF: Do you consent to the LGBT Archive using your interview for educational purposes in other formats including articles, websites, presentations, or other things that technology might bring us in the future? CG: Yes. MF: And do you understand that you&#039 ; ll have 30 days after I send you the transcript of the interview to identify parts that you might want to delete, or you could withdraw the entire interview if you wanted to? CG: I do. MF: Okay. All right, formalities aside, I&#039 ; m just going to begin with kind of a general question. Corinne, tell me about the early years of your life. CG: So, I was born in beautiful Yonkers, NY, the garden spot of the state. In 1959 subsequently moved pretty quickly. My parents bought a house in Huntington, Long Island and I spent the first few years of my life there. So, my very first memory that I can, like, you know, like say oh yeah, I really remember that, was actually there, and it was around my gender. So, I was probably three, maybe four, and I was playing with the little girl next door. Her name was Gina. I remember my house was painted yellow, her house was painted green, and we were in her backyard playing doctor, and that&#039 ; s when I realized that I had different anatomy. And then my next memory, and I&#039 ; m assuming that it was in the same day or, you know, close to it, was sitting in the bathtub in my parents&#039 ; house trying to figure out how they had glued my penis on, because they insisted that they needed a boy. So, I remember talking to my mother about my gender, right, and why was I different. She kind of, in no uncertain terms, said, &quot ; Well, you know, you&#039 ; re a boy, and boys have penises.&quot ; And I remember like just trying to figure out how to get it off. So that&#039 ; s my actual very earliest memory. Yeah, so. After that, we moved to White Plains, NY, so in Westchester County. We moved into my grandfather&#039 ; s house, so he retired and moved to Florida, and we moved into his home, and that was probably around I was eight years old, so third grade, and during the next few years, that&#039 ; s when I really began to realize that I was different than most other people. Especially, I think this happens a lot for trans folk, you know puberty is such a crazy time for people anyway, but for me it was like ultra-crazy because you had to figure out, that&#039 ; s when you have to start sort of putting on the &quot ; guy suit&quot ; you know when you&#039 ; re a teenager or adolescent, right? Or the &quot ; girl suit&quot ; if you&#039 ; re, you&#039 ; re know, and I couldn&#039 ; t do either (laughs), so. But during that time, I remember becoming incredibly adept at shoplifting, and shoplifting women&#039 ; s clothing. And so, we would go to, my mother shopped at McCrory&#039 ; s, which was like a five and dime store, a lot. It was like a Woolworth&#039 ; s. And I remember you know just really becoming really good at shoplifting and boosting everything from, you know, panties, to pantyhose to skirts, you know, and I would hide it under the mattress of my bed, which is not a great hiding place, right? (laughs) But and then my mom found my stash, and that&#039 ; s, you know, and she made it, my father at the time was traveling a lot, so he was in the paper business, so actually I worked in the paper business for a very short time. I was the fourth generation. Everybody in my family worked for International Paper Company. But he was traveling a lot. He probably traveled three weeks out of the month typically, internationally, to paper mills all over the world, and doing technical support, and he was away on a business trip, my mom found my stash, and I remember very, very clearly her telling me that, you know, this was deviant behavior, and if my father ever found out, it would kill him. That was like, the exact words that were used. And, you know, of course, you know, everything purged and, but it lasted maybe like three weeks and then I started shoplifting again (laughs), so. And that sort of lasted through, all the way up through high school. So, we moved to Upstate New York. So, moving from like the New York City area where like life is sort of like fast and we would go into the city pretty regularly and you know very racially you know, kind of integrated area that I lived in, you know, the junior high/high school that I went to was probably you know 40/50 percent people of color, and then we moved to Upstate New York. Glens Falls, NY. Which, like in the Adirondack Mountains, and it was like going from like, you know, overdrive to first gear for me. And right in the middle of adolescence, and I became very depressed. Actually, you know, I would skip school all the time. Go steal stuff (laughs). Have a girl day. And I did that for like two years. So, I had been a straight-A student when we lived down in Westchester, when we moved to Glens Falls, I became a C and D student. And it wasn&#039 ; t until my senior year in high school that I didn&#039 ; t even realize it at the time, but I was fully embraced by the queer kids at school. Right? And nobody talked about it, right? Nobody said, like, are you gay or are you, you know, transgender. Are you this, are you that? You know, nobody was talking about this stuff back in, you know, 1975, 1976, 1977. Especially when you&#039 ; re in high school, right? Because there&#039 ; s so much stigma around the stuff. But you know, looking back on it, you go like, oh my God! I was surrounded by all these queer kids, and we all took care of each other. That&#039 ; s what was going on. And yeah, so, finally I found my tribe in my senior year of high school, and I became a straight-A student again because of it, which was kind of cool, because it allowed me to go to college. But yeah, so that was my adolescence, you know. Being told I was a deviant several times, and I was going to kill my father if he ever found out. You know in hindsight, I think my father may have been a closeted trans person, frankly. So, he would shave his legs, he wore underwear that, you know, probably could have been classified as, you know, could go either way. You know, male or female in sort of the way it looked. In hindsight, you know, when I kind of think about his life, you know, I think that he may have been a very closeted individual. Whether that&#039 ; s true or not, I don&#039 ; t know, right. He&#039 ; s passed on a long time ago, so. I would have loved to have been able to have that conversation, so. That&#039 ; s the early years, I guess, right? So, I went to college. So, I went to a really small, tiny liberal arts college called Eisenhower College. It&#039 ; s since closed. It was actually only open for I think 14 years. But it was a very intense sort of classical liberal arts education, where you know, we read everything from Plato to the Bhagavad Gida, to the Koran cover to cover, and studied world cultures all across the world. I was an International Relations and Asian History major, and actually used to be able to speak Chinese relatively fluently. Not anymore. But you know, when I was in college, you know, you have roommates and you&#039 ; re living, eventually I got a single room, but even then, you know, you&#039 ; re in such close proximity that, you know, Corinne, who didn&#039 ; t have a name at that time, but you know that part of me, went very much into the closet. But it was really a wonderful time. It&#039 ; s where I met my future wife. And you know recently have started to reconnect with my larger college community, although our closest friends in the world were from, are from college, so. My wife and I, we get together with them several times a year every year for the last, you know, 40 plus years. We, so after college, my wife, Deb, and I got married in 1982. 1982? Yeah. 1982. Because we graduated college in &#039 ; 81. So, in &#039 ; 82, and then Corinne came roaring back. You know, so after a five-year sort of hiatus. Although I wasn&#039 ; t stealing things anymore, I was going out and buying them (laughs), but you know, still very, very secret. Kept it all from my wife. And you know, very closeted at the time, but you know, expressing my femininity through clothing as often as I could. My wife is an avid churchgoer and a believer, and I&#039 ; m not, so my girl time was every Sunday morning when she went to church, frankly. And then we got pregnant in 1987. And that&#039 ; s when I kind of had my epiphany, so literally, and this is probably one of the biggest regrets of my entire life, and I apologize because it gets me a little emotional. But literally the day that we found out that we were pregnant, is when I came out to my wife. And in my mind, I felt I had to. Because it wouldn&#039 ; t be fair to her, or to our child, to go through life without them knowing about this part of me at some point. You know, there was lots of crying, there was lots of conversation, and what a horrible time for me to come out to somebody (laughs). But you know, in my head, the logic in my head said that you know, this is like the do or die kind of time. You have to be honest with her. And you know, it took a lot of years of kind of negotiating, you know, and ultimately, we sort of settled on sort of a don&#039 ; t-ask-don&#039 ; t-tell life around my cross-dressing, or my transness. So, essentially what would happen is for the intervening gosh, 30 years, my wife would go visit her mom once a month, she&#039 ; d take our son with her, they&#039 ; d go visit her mom for a weekend, and I would have a weekend to be the real me. And we did that for literally for decades. For decades. And it was really hard. It was hard when my kid found my fake boobs (laughs). You know, and like you know, he comes out of the closet with his little buddy from across the street you know and says to my wife like you know, &quot ; Hey, what are these?&quot ; (laughs) You know? And you know, &quot ; what are they doing here?&quot ; And he found my stash of stuff that I thought I had hidden away pretty good, and my wife said like, &quot ; Oh, they&#039 ; re just like for a Halloween costume,&quot ; or something like that. And when a kid is eight, that&#039 ; s good enough, right? But that memory came up years later when I came up to my son and he goes like, &quot ; Oh, well you know, that explains the boobs.&quot ; So, yeah. So, for years, you know, I worked in the retail business, so I was, I started off, so literally I got out of college, I had a liberal arts degree, I had gotten into grad school, I had gotten into Columbia and Johns Hopkins and some other schools to continue my education, but I really decided I didn&#039 ; t want to do that. And so, it was in 1982 in the middle of like a horrible recession, and I didn&#039 ; t know what to do, so I got a job literally selling shoes. I was in the shoe business for three years, I guess, and then a friend of mine from college, actually a friend of both of ours from college, her dad worked for Radio Shack, the now-defunct electronics retailer, and she got me an interview with Radio Shack. I had a 23-year career at Radio Shack, so at one point or another I ran all of the stores in eastern Pennsylvania, so I ran about 300 stores for them. The biggest territory they had. And then I did that for like 23 years. So I left there in 2004, and when their business model really started to shift and I was not pleased with where the company was going and I was, you know, like 40-something years old and I go like, you know, if I&#039 ; m going to move, I gotta do it now, because my hair&#039 ; s getting grey, and I&#039 ; m getting fat, and nobody&#039 ; s going to hire an old fat and grey guy, so I actually went to work, through a contact of mine, I went into the telecom business, and I was a vice president of sales and distribution for Vonage, the internet telephone company, so that&#039 ; s what I did after Radio Shack. I went from like this really established kind of traditional organization into the start-up world, and literally my desk for the first two and a half years was a card table, and it was just the most fun I ever had in my life I think at work was for those two and a half years, and then we went public, and you know, we all thought we were going to get rich, and that didn&#039 ; t happen, but when you go from like this ultra-entrepreneurial startup environment and then you go public, and now you have to comply with all these regulations and stuff like that, it was a little bit of a shift in what was going on. I was recruited away from them to go to work for Sprint, and I was in charge of the sales, consumer sales side, for Sprint&#039 ; s 4G business, when they were starting at 4G. You know, we&#039 ; re now in the 5G, and 6G&#039 ; s you know, on the horizon actually too in that business, but back then 4G was like the hot new thing in the wireless business, so I was in charge of all of their national consumer sales distribution for 4G for Sprint. They, in 2008 decided to merge our division into a new company with another company, called Clearwire at the time so we were involved in all that kind of merger activity, and I was offered the opportunity to go work in Seattle, essentially doing what I was doing for the new company, or I could take like a half a million dollars. So, you know, and the guy I would have been working for out in Seattle who I&#039 ; d, you know, been working with in this merger thing was just, he was an asshole, so I decided to take the money (laughs), which came in a bunch of different ways. It wasn&#039 ; t just like cash. But the package was pretty lucrative, and really that allowed me to sort of sit back and go, &quot ; What is next?&quot ; And so, you know, in 2008 I was 50 years old, and you know, I could try to continue in a corporate world, and kind of do what I was doing, or I could go out on my own. And essentially what that money allowed me to do was have the freedom to give doing something on my own a try. So, I started my own consulting firm, and that firm doesn&#039 ; t look anything like it used to when it started, but at the time I was doing consulting work for a bunch of companies, but the biggest one was a company called Retail Business Development, and our business model was to help retailers who were struggling, and so literally what we would do is you know, and they&#039 ; re primarily in the wireless and telecommunications space, but like maybe you own 30 retail stores selling Metro PCS, the wireless carrier, and you were struggling, we would go in and consult with you and help you fix your business. And in many cases that was we would sign an agreement that you would turn over the keys to your business. The entire business to us, for a period of two years. And we would fix it. And that might involve closing stores, opening stores, relocating stores, firing staff, hiring staff. I mean literally we would, some of these businesses we tore them right down to the ground and rebuilt them from the ground up. And so, that took me back into the retail business. I was running about 350 retail stores. I was their senior vice president of operations and business development, and in the two years that I was working with them, we tripled the size of the business, landed a lot of new national accounts through my contacts, like you know, we were doing all of the in-store sales for DirecTV at Walmart, for example. So, every Walmart in the country, and things like that. So, it was just, again it was sort of like in that start-up sort of real entrepreneur-y kind of world, but me and the owner of that business sort of had a parting of the ways. We just wanted to go in different directions with the business, and then so I kind of was back starting square one again, and what do I do? And turned my business into a training and development firm. Because training is something that I always really liked doing. So, our business now is where we develop training and development programs for companies, really globally, so we have clients in the Caribbean, clients in Turkey, clients in Europe, the United States and Canada, and all kinds of different businesses, ranging from consumer electronics to adult pleasure products, so yeah, so one of my clients is the largest distributor of adult pleasure goods in the world. And we&#039 ; ve written, a lot of our course stuff is electronic course work, computer-based training. We&#039 ; ve written over 150 courses for them on how to use products. So, I know a lot more that I thought I would about things that I never thought that I would be selling, but. It&#039 ; s been an interesting experience. So, that&#039 ; s what I do now. But what that allowed me to do is by working from home, it started to give me the freedom, you know, as my wife was at work doing her job, she&#039 ; s a medical practitioner, is that every day I was able to be who I really am. I was able to be Corinne every day. And so, really my coming out process, my true coming out process started in 2008, when I left corporate world and started my own business, because it gave me the freedom, working from home most of the time, to really just be who I am. And you know, I came to the realization probably in, I guess in 2011, that I had to come out and really be genuine. My wife and I had a lot of difficult conversations, because partners transition right along with us, and family members transition right along with us. I think the other thing, by the way, that helped me with coming out, was that both of my parents died. And it gave me the freedom, I guess, if you want to call it that, to not have to worry about killing my father, because he was already dead. To be perfectly blunt. And to not have to deal with the judgement of my mother, which I think would have been very traumatic. But so, I started my transition, you know, kind of the coming out process in 2008, 2010. I transitioned full time socially in 2014, I guess. When we moved back here to the Lehigh Valley that&#039 ; s when that really started, and then medical transition started in 2016, so you know one of the things that many people don&#039 ; t realize is that transition involves a lot of things, right? So, I was actually just giving a training last night to some college students, and you know, people tend to think about transition, they tend to think about operations and medications. But really, it&#039 ; s sort of social transition, and a lot of people sort of socially transition but don&#039 ; t medically or legally transition. So, for me, social transition started around 2010, legal transition was just a couple years ago in 2018, and my medical transition started in 2016, and it&#039 ; s still an on-going thing, so. That&#039 ; s my story, and I&#039 ; m sticking to it. MF: Thank you so much for sharing. I&#039 ; m wondering about the period of your life before the social, legal, and medical transition. What was it like to be Corinne, you know, on Sunday morning, or these just sort of selected parts of your week? How did you navigate that? What was that like for you during that time period? CG: So, yeah. Well, difficult would be I guess the best adjective, but probably a few things. So, one of the real challenges, and remind me to tell you about the second one if I forget, but one of the real challenges, and many people with transgender experience who are sort of living in this, you know, back and forth world, and many, many, many, many trans people do-- matter of fact, I would say the majority of trans people do-- is you&#039 ; re code switching all the time. So, you are, you know, mentally you are, you know in my case, a feminine space, or in the case of a transmasculine person, a masculine space, or you know, a non-binary person as well, but you are always having to put on this act. And so, I would have my girls&#039 ; weekend, but I would feel like I was an imposter, right? So you have imposter syndrome, because in my case, I have body hair, and facial hair, and I don&#039 ; t know how to do makeup, or you know, I don&#039 ; t know how to whatever, so if I would go out, I would be just totally paranoid about, you know, people staring at me because, well, I&#039 ; m still paranoid about people staring at me, but in a different way, but is that, you know, you&#039 ; re just not practiced, right? And then, when you switch back into, in my case, you know, into &quot ; dude mode,&quot ; you know, there&#039 ; s just like this sort of mental break, and it is just so fatiguing. It is just, it just mentally drains you. And whether it&#039 ; s the imposter syndrome that you have, or it&#039 ; s that sort of, you know, having to kind of mentally switch back and forth, is just so hard. And then the other thing, well, the other thing that&#039 ; s hard, by the way, is that just this idea that you&#039 ; re having to hide, right? So, you know I would get my outfit out, or my clothing out, whatever it is, and then you know, it was, I used to store stuff in like plastic tubs that was like you know hidden in the bottom of a storage closet underneath, you know, our books from college, right? And so, you have to dig it all out, and then you pull your clothing out, it&#039 ; s all wrinkled and cruddy because it&#039 ; s been sitting in you know, in the basement with mildew, and you know, you put it on, and you don&#039 ; t feel right, and then you know, but then you gotta rush and put it all back because you know God forbid if you know a neighbor knocks on the door, or whatever, so you&#039 ; re just in this constant state of fear of being discovered. And I think this is one of the things that&#039 ; s different for many people in the LGBTQ community, or I should say the LGB community versus the trans community, right? Is that LGB folks can navigate the real world, right? So, you&#039 ; re not necessarily, you know, you&#039 ; re sitting home, you&#039 ; re watching TV, you&#039 ; re not worried somebody&#039 ; s going to discover that you&#039 ; re gay necessarily while you&#039 ; re watching TV. But if I&#039 ; m, you know, was watching you know the Sunday morning news shows, but I was dressed as whatever, my next-door neighbor comes over to borrow a cup of sugar, and I&#039 ; m discovered. And that is just a little bit different. And I don&#039 ; t mean to discount the fear and the stigma that LGB people have, but there&#039 ; s sort of a difference between being able to sort of move through the world with a little bit of invisibility, I guess I would call it, versus as a trans person, you are very visible. Especially when you&#039 ; re in transition, or you&#039 ; re not fully transitioned, you haven&#039 ; t started to medically transition. It can be really challenging. The other thing that I wanted to get at was because of that imposter syndrome, at least I know, and many people of trans experience that I know, overcompensate. So, for example, there&#039 ; s been studies that show that transgender people join the military at highly disproportionate rates, because they want to, you know if you&#039 ; re transfeminine, you&#039 ; re going to prove your masculinity. And you&#039 ; re going to, you know, become like, you know, an &quot ; army man,&quot ; and you know, sort of beat it out of yourself I guess, right? And I know trans folks who have become like, you know, amazing athletes because they&#039 ; re trying to prove their masculinity, for example, if you&#039 ; re a transfeminine person. In my case, I became like this type A business executive who, you didn&#039 ; t want to get in my way. Matter of fact, my nickname back in the day, was &quot ; Evil Dave.&quot ; And you know, I actually like to think that I was a pretty good boss, and I&#039 ; ve actually had many people who say that I was a very good boss, but man, you didn&#039 ; t want to cross me. And I can make people cry in a heartbeat, and I did it, and I liked it, frankly. You know, I mean there were times when if you just, so my motto at the time was &quot ; Just do what I tell you to do, it&#039 ; s going to be okay.&quot ; Right? And I was just this, I could be a total, total, pardon my language, asshole. And I was really good at playing that role. And I have a lot of regrets about that. Not because of decision-making necessarily, I didn&#039 ; t make but because I could have treated people better and frankly it was all an act. It was all an act. And so, you know, that overcompensation led to me living a disingenuous life for 50 years. And I look at those 50 years as 50 wasted years, and frankly a lot of the work that I do now I think, if I was to really look deep into my soul, is about trying to make up for those 50 years, and do the right thing by people, and to help people develop, and you know, get on a path that&#039 ; s going to make it so that they don&#039 ; t have to be on the path that I was. So. Probably a little bit of a mission there, which by the way, I don&#039 ; t think is really unusual for people who get into social services. There&#039 ; s usually some sort of mission, motivation going on back in there, but yeah, so. That&#039 ; s one of the problems I think that trans folk have, right, is code-switching and then imposter syndrome are really, really, really massive. I am so proud, especially of young non-binary people, who nowadays are able to navigate or working to navigate gender in a different way, where you know, wouldn&#039 ; t it be wonderful if we didn&#039 ; t have to fit into a gender box? You know, where you don&#039 ; t have to be this macho dude, or this hyper-feminine woman. You can just be genuine to yourself and on this whole spectrum of masculinity and femininity, you just find your place, and people support you in that navigation and being comfortable with the fact that these thing evolve, and everybody is sort of on their own path, you know some people move quickly across that evolution, some people move slowly across that evolution, some people stop in the middle, some people move back and forth, and I really think that, you know, we are at an inflection point where over the next sort of probably 20 years, hopefully I live long enough to see it, that these gender norms are just blown up, and we just start accepting people for who they are in this area, would make me very, very happy to see that. Yeah. MF: I do want to talk about, you talked about your career, I want to talk about Eastern PA Trans Equity, but first, since we&#039 ; re sort of still reflecting a bit on your earlier years, I&#039 ; m wondering what was your relationship like with LGBTQ community spaces you know, prior to your social, legal, and medical transition? Were LGBTQ organizations on your radar? Were they not on your radar? How were you kind of thinking about gay liberation, trans liberation, and you know, kind of movements that were going on in the 80s and 90s? CG: Yeah, so, you know, back you know in the 80s in-particular, and even the early 90s, right, it was pre-internet, or pre-internet as we know it now, I should say, and so the way that you got involved with the transgender community in-particular, is that you went to adult bookstores, and you picked up magazines. Whether it was female impersonator magazine, or there was one called &quot ; TV/TS Tapestry,&quot ; which was put out by IFGE in Boston for years, and you know, in the back of these magazines would be ads. You know, so they were filled often with you know, just pictures of people of trans experience often in pornographic or semi-pornographic modes, but in the back of these magazines would be personal ads, or ads for organizations, and two of the organizations back in the 80s that I was familiar with was, one&#039 ; s called Tri-Ess, which is still around, so Tri-Ess is the Society for Second Self, is what the three Ss stands for. And then another one was Renaissance. And what I did is I would, where we were living, I would get a post office box, and you know, sneak into my post office box and pick up my, you know, Tri-Ess newsletter, or my Renaissance newsletter, and furtively read it to go, &quot ; Here, there actually are people like me,&quot ; and &quot ; Look, oh there&#039 ; s a picture of a lady with really big hair!&quot ; you know (laughs) or whatever, but they would sort of tell their stories, sometimes there would be personal ads, but that&#039 ; s really how you kind of communicated and found community back in the day. At the time, we were living in Upstate New York in the 80s, in Glens Falls again, and there was nothing. There was absolutely nothing locally, so my transgender life was lived vicariously through others in these newsletters. And then the dial-up internet happened, and actually there was, before AOL, there was a service called PC Link, and it was actually the progenitor of AOL, and I was working at Radio Shack as a store manager at the time, and we would sell this PC Link software that allowed you to go through a dial-up modem and find you know communities and I found a transgender support group, or cross-dressers support group I think it might have been called at the time. And I remember dialing in, you know, two or three times a month and getting into these chat rooms, and you know everybody talking about kind of what they&#039 ; re experiences were. Some of them were very sexual in nature, other times the conversations were very much about navigating coming out, or finding doctors, or you know, how do you do various things. But it was all very tentative, and very sort of closeted, at least on my part. You know, so I would do it when my wife was in the other room, and you know I didn&#039 ; t want to offend her, because the last thing I wanted was for my wife to leave me because I was leading this deviant lifestyle, I guess. I didn&#039 ; t want to scare her. But that&#039 ; s kind of how you found community, was like through these sort of like you know stealth newsletters. Things came in plain paper envelopes, you know, and but back in the at least especially in the late 80s/early 90s things started opening up a little bit and I became aware of some of these support groups. And they would often have meetings, although not near where I was living at the time, but Renaissance in particular, which was founded by a woman named Joanne Roberts along with a couple of other folks down in the Philadelphia area actually, is where they started, started opening chapters around the country. So, for example they had a chapter in Albany, NY, which is 50 miles from where I was living, and I was never brave enough to go to one of their meetings. But the way that you used to go to these meetings is you would be given a phone number to call, and that phone number was at a phone booth. So, somebody would say you need to call this number at seven pm on the 14th of the month, right, and you would call, and then somebody would be at this phone booth to answer the phone, because it was all super-secret, and they would interview you. Literally interview you about, you know,about who you are, to make sure that, then they might give you permission to come to a meeting at a super-secret place. So, you like you know you had to know somebody who knew somebody and that&#039 ; s the way a lot of these things really worked. So, you know you kind of fast forward to 2008 when I was, really made the decision to explore transition, I was looking for support groups and locally in the Lehigh Valley here, you know, I went into google and said like, you know, &quot ; Lehigh Valley support groups,&quot ; &quot ; Allentown, Pennsylvania transgender groups,&quot ; things like that, and there was nothing. There was nothing. By the way, there actually was something, you just couldn&#039 ; t find it. So, I remember going like, you know, &quot ; there&#039 ; s gotta be something!&quot ; And then I remembered Renaissance, this national organization that had things. I went to their website, and it said there was a Lehigh Valley group! And I go, like, &quot ; Oh!&quot ; You know, &quot ; Big win! Congratulations, Corinne!&quot ; And there was a website, and there was an address you could send a letter to. A post office box. Well, the website didn&#039 ; t work. It was just a dead end. And the post office box, I sent like three letters to it, and nothing ever happened. And this is one of the problems with a lot of trans support groups, is that somebody starts one, and then they might leave. And then it falls apart, right? These things are sort of you know based community, very community based, but luckily a couple years later, you know, through my therapist, she goes like, &quot ; Oh, I know somebody who knows somebody, and I&#039 ; ll get you connected.&quot ; And, lo and behold Lehigh Valley Renaissance was there, it was just hard to find, and you had to go-- the phone booth was gone, so that was good news. But you know, you had to know somebody who knew somebody who knew where the meeting was and what time it was and where it was and things like that. So, I showed up for my first Renaissance meeting in 2014, maybe? 2015. And walked in, and I found a group of mature, white, women, trans women, some of whom identify as cross-dressers, some of whom identified as transgender, and I walked in there&#039 ; s like a little bowl of potato chips and you know, some cold pizza, and you know, iced tea, and I go to pour myself a glass of iced tea and this one person walks up and they said like, &quot ; Oh, you&#039 ; re new here.&quot ; And I go like, you know, &quot ; Yes,&quot ; and I remember going to this thing and man did I dress up. Like, I was wearing high heels and stockings and a killer skirt, and put my makeup on with a trowel, and you know, I was like really trying to be a girl. And this woman walks up to me, and she starts giving me a lecture on the right way to be transgender. Like, well THIS is how you have to do it. And I almost walked out. I almost walked out. Thank God I met Raquel Hebron who was the chapter leader for Renaissance who came over and saved the day, and she kind of you know just sort of put her arm around me, and she was like, &quot ; We don&#039 ; t care how you look, we don&#039 ; t care, you know, how you identify. You are welcome here, and we&#039 ; re here to help you.&quot ; And I am so unbelievably grateful for that, because I probably would have never gone back, and maybe I would never have transitioned if it hadn&#039 ; t been for that intervention. There were probably, I&#039 ; m guessing maybe eight people at that meeting. Lots of angst. Lots of people sort of you know complaining about life and you know all the obstacles that they encountered and things like that, but it was a really important start for me, in terms of like just starting to access resources, and that&#039 ; s, you know I kind of went to meetings you know for a few months. And there was another person, her name is Amanda, who was there and she, while not being a web guru in anyway, she went to Wix.com and started to set up a website. It was a little bit of a kluge, it was pretty rough, but you know at least people could kind of find us now, and then between me and her and some other folks, we started going like, you know, &quot ; This thing could be a lot more than what it is now.&quot ; And so, while Raquel was still chapter leader and she would sort of run the support group meetings, we were doing a lot of work kind of on the backside. Frankly, I was paying for it out of my pocket, and we built a real website with lots of resources and like so, now you can go to the Renaissance website and download a list of therapists who are trans-affirming for the entire state. You know, you can, you know, find, you know, if you want to find a place to get your nails done, or where you if you&#039 ; re a trans guy you need to buy a binder, or whatever it is, there&#039 ; s all these resources available. Lots of articles. We started a blog, and things like that. You know, we optimized the site for search engine optimization, so you know now a days if you type in like &quot ; Lehigh Valley Transgender,&quot ; we pop right up at the top, and it becomes easy to find. And those meetings have gone from where we would get like you know maybe half a dozen people would come to a meeting, the Renaissance meeting that we had just two weeks ago had 48 people at it. Which is just sort of controlled pandemonium. It&#039 ; s hard to have a support group meeting when you have 48 people, so we&#039 ; ve had to kind of learn to manage those things differently. But that was really the start of what is now the Trans Equity project, is let&#039 ; s build something for the community that works for everybody. And one of the things that we&#039 ; ve learned is that not everybody needs or wants a support group, right? Where you kind of come and sit around in a circle and you talk about your problems, and people give you solutions. Sometimes people just want to go to a website and find, you know, where can I find a doctor who will prescribe hormones. Or some people you know may not want to go to a website, they may want to go to a Facebook page, or an Instagram page and things like that, so we started building you know this sort of business plan around what should an organization look like, and about three years ago myself and some others started getting into some conversations and said okay, so if we had a clean sheet of paper, and we were going to build something new, what might it look like? And what it looks like is the Eastern Pennsylvania Trans Equity Project. So, myself and some other folx, trans folx in the area, trans-masc. folk, non-binary folk, we started to sort of you know meet at a Starbucks, or meet at you know one of our houses, and say, &quot ; What should-- if we were going to build something new, what would we build?&quot ; And I should say that in the intervening time, as Renaissance started to do more, we decided that you know, so for example, when I started coming to Renaissance meetings, Renaissance had maybe $100 in the bank at any given point in time. And you know, we would collect you know five dollars here or there from people coming to meetings, to you know to pay for the cold pizza and the carrot sticks and the iced tea. We had a little bit of money left over. But as we started to expand, you know, that five dollars started to add up, and we&#039 ; d go like, &quot ; Well, what are things that we could do?&quot ; And one of the first things that we did is that there is a conference that happens every year in Harrisburg called the Keystone Conference. So, the Keystone Conference is where primarily trans-fem folx, but really anybody of trans experience, can go. It&#039 ; s a four- conference where they literally take over the entire Sheraton Hotel in Harrisburg. The only non-trans people there are the airline pilots who have a layover that night, and they like hanging out with the trans folx, frankly, because we party hard. But you know you go there and there&#039 ; s seminars that happen, you know like, so surgeons that come, doctors who come, therapists who come. Seminars on how to change your name, seminars on you know deportment, seminars on you know how to do makeup, seminars on you know, if you&#039 ; re a trans-guy, what is the right way to fit a binder, for example. Lots of workshops during the day. Lots of social activities at night. And when I went to my first one, it was literally a life-changing experience, because it&#039 ; s the first time I didn&#039 ; t ever feel tall. So, like you know there&#039 ; s a thousand other transgender people there, and I go and I&#039 ; m like &quot ; Oh my God!&quot ; You know, &quot ; There are women here who are 6&#039 ; 8&quot ; !&quot ; You know? &quot ; I&#039 ; m little! I&#039 ; m petite!&quot ; (laughs) But it&#039 ; s a totally accepting environment, non-threatening, you&#039 ; re not worried about your safety, and that&#039 ; s when I go like, &quot ; Oh I can really do this, and I have the tools.&quot ; So, one of the first programs that we started at Renaissance was a scholarship to send people to that conference. Because it costs about, you know, eight hundred dollars to go for the full time, for a hotel room, and meals, and conference fees. So, we started to pay for that. But we also realized there was liability involved, so we at that time the Bradbury-Sullivan LBGTQ Center was starting to open up, Adrian the executive director of the center needed a program, we needed insurance, and so we became a program of the Bradbury-Sullivan Center. So, you know Adrian got a ready-made program for trans people, and you know we got insurance to cover our liability. It was kind of like a great marriage of convenience. But over time, we started wanting to do more and more and more, and the mission that we started to put together didn&#039 ; t necessarily fit in with the mission of the LBGTQ Center. So, working alongside Adrian, and working with the trans community, we started to put together the plan for the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project. And our mission is to empower trans people while building community and fighting for social justice, and our vision is to be really the go-to source for resources for trans folk throughout ultimately all of Pennsylvania, but right now we support 14 counties across the Eastern part of the state. By the end of the year, I think it&#039 ; s going to be 20 counties. And we do a lot with very little. So, kind of our tagline is &quot ; Life begins now.&quot ; And it&#039 ; s, from a mission perspective, it&#039 ; s really what is the one thing-- just one thing-- that we can provide to a person of trans experience, to help them navigate life better? And that started off really with legal name change assistance. So, if you think about all the places that you have to use your name, so if you want to buy a drink in a bar, and they card you, right? You have to show your ID, and you know, maybe you know, in my case, my ID said David, but I&#039 ; m presenting as Corinne, and we&#039 ; ve had it happen where people hand over their ID and then a bartender says, &quot ; Oh, so you&#039 ; re transgender then.&quot ; And now the whole bar knows that you&#039 ; re a person of trans experience, and that puts you in physical danger. You have to show your ID if you want to buy a cell phone. You have to show your ID when you want to apply for a car loan. When you apply for a job, right? And you&#039 ; re hired for a job. You want to go through TSA because you want to fly somewhere. You, you know, have to show your ID all the time, and every time that happens, if it&#039 ; s mismatched to your gender, you&#039 ; re outed. And every time you&#039 ; re outed, you&#039 ; re literally put into physical danger. So, the first program that we launched was the name change project, where you can come to our website, you can download all of the legal forms that you need to complete your name change, automatically have them filled out, so you just enter in your name, your address, and you know, you&#039 ; re chosen name, and your current legal name, and all the forms are automatically populated. They come with step-by-step instructions, written in plain English, so that you can do it yourself and not have to hire a lawyer for $2,000. Then you can apply for a grant, where we will pay for your name change, so that you don&#039 ; t have to come out of pocket for that. And then we will mentor you all along the process. So, for example, this year, right now it&#039 ; s October 15th, we&#039 ; ve helped just over 150 people complete their legal name change this year. And that is a life-changing thing. Other programs we have is that you can, if you&#039 ; re in transition, or maybe you&#039 ; re a teenager and you&#039 ; re going to school, or a college student you&#039 ; re going to college, and you&#039 ; re trans-masculine person, and you want a binder to help you to present more masculine, we will provide you with a binder for free. We&#039 ; ve added, over the last two years, housing assistance, so you know if you&#039 ; re struggling with housing, we will pay your rent for you to keep you in housing. We actually did one not too long ago where a person was three months behind on their rent due to COVID, and the recession that&#039 ; s going on right now, and unemployment. We managed to negotiate away one month of that person&#039 ; s rent with the landlord, we paid two months of the rent to get them caught up, and we secured a letter from the landlord saying they weren&#039 ; t going to take any eviction process for 90 days. We provide food assistance for people who need to feed themselves, or their trans kids. We did four college scholarships for trans folk this past year. We do a scholarship to trans-affirming summer camp for trans kids. You know, the idea is like, what can we do besides the support groups? We run now six different support groups. But how do we really help somebody of trans experience get their life on track so that they can make a difference? So, we started the project in 2019, it&#039 ; s now two years later. It&#039 ; s 100 percent volunteer, nobody gets paid. So, you know, 85, 90 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to help people of trans experience. We have an education program where conferences like the Keystone Conference were canceled during COVID, so we decided to pick that up, and every couple weeks we do a workshop for trans folk and their family members, so we did one earlier this week on de-mystifying health insurance for transition. And how do you get everything you need to get surgeries, for example. We did one two weeks prior to that on &quot ; You Transition as Your Partner Transitions,&quot ; so it&#039 ; s for spouses and partners of trans people. We&#039 ; ve done them on surgery, we&#039 ; ve done them on name changes, we&#039 ; ve done them on, you know, mindfulness and how to deal with dysphoria, and you know, I&#039 ; m just so proud of not only what I&#039 ; ve helped to accomplish in building this project, but of all of our volunteers who put in their time and their effort to make the struggle easier, and to pay it forward for hopefully mainly for young folk, right? So, I mean, we&#039 ; ll help anybody of any age, but you know if we can help a trans kid, you know, get the binder they need that&#039 ; ll let them feel comfortable going to class, and then we help them get their degree so they can get a decent job, and we&#039 ; ll help them with their name change so they can get their name on their diploma, right? And we&#039 ; re sort of setting them up for success as they move forward, and it&#039 ; s just amazingly gratifying. Yeah. MF: Could you tell me a bit more about how you moved into the leadership of Eastern PA Trans Equity Project? You talked about going to a support group at Renaissance, and you talked about a group of people kind of meeting to imagine Eastern PA Trans Equity. I&#039 ; m sort of more, I&#039 ; m interested in that personal story of being a member, but then thinking, &quot ; No, I want to take a leadership role,&quot ; with others, in collaboration with others, to really start something transformative in Eastern PA, that&#039 ; s connected to Renaissance, kind of building out of it, but also has a big vision for you know, directly helping trans people with specific challenges that they&#039 ; re facing in our region? CG: Yeah, so it was a coup d&#039 ; état (laughs), so. So, essentially you know, kind of some of the current leaders of Renaissance were sort of very happy kind of doing what they were doing, and they are still happy doing what they are doing. And but we kind of just said, &quot ; like, listen. We think that we can do more,&quot ; and I will raise my hand and say I was the ringleader in this, without a doubt, and but is it, you know, just through having conversations with other members of the community who said, like you know &quot ; What could we do? If you think about your transition, what was the most complicated thing? Or what was the thing that was the biggest, you know, pain in the rear for you?&quot ; Or whatever. And then we said, like &quot ; All right, so what if we could start building solutions for these, what might they look like?&quot ; And I was definitely the person who was behind, you know, kind of pushing all this stuff forward. You know, with input from other community members, but I was definitely the instigator, and ultimately it came down to, you know, I mentioned Adrian Shanker from the LBGTQ Community Center, so we said, &quot ; All right, we just want to kind of move in different directions. We&#039 ; re going to cooperate and help each other where it makes sense,&quot ; but the LBGTQ Community Center is much more about cultural programs and things like that, whereas you know, we&#039 ; re much more about direct aid and intervention, right? So, think about it as the difference between your broad programs, so coming to seeing an art gallery showing, or a movie, or whatever it is, and you got 50 people. You know, our program is about how do we, you know, sort of belly to belly, one person to one person, make a difference in somebody&#039 ; s life. It&#039 ; s just sort of a different philosophy on how you help the community. And so, that was sort of kind of where we started from, is this idea okay so what is that one thing we can do for a person of trans experience to make a difference? Maybe it&#039 ; s a support group program, maybe it&#039 ; s one of these workshops, maybe it&#039 ; s a name change. Maybe it&#039 ; s helping to get them off of the street. But, you know, what are these things that we could do? And so we had a bunch of conversations, this is kind of going on in 2017, 2018, and then like I said, in 2019 is when we incorporated and started it, and then I sat down had a conversation with Raquel who was the group leader of Renaissance, and I said like, &quot ; Listen, this is what we&#039 ; re doing.&quot ; And you know the Bradbury-Sullivan Center has decided that Renaissance really needs to go in a different direction, not be part of the center anymore, because we always were sort of a little independent anyway, like we never had our meetings at the LGBTQ Center, we had our meetings elsewhere. You know, we weren&#039 ; t going to give that up. So, I said like, &quot ; Listen, so here&#039 ; s the deal. So, you can go out and kind of become what you were ten years ago, or you can fold in underneath the Trans Equity Project umbrella. More than happy to have you do that. That gives you the [ear?] cover of having liability insurance and things like that.&quot ; So, really Renaissance is the sub-brand, if you want to think of it from a marketing perspective, of the Trans Equity Project for our support group programs. So, like we have a group for partners and spouses, it is Renaissance Partners. We have a group that we&#039 ; ve started up in the Poconos, that&#039 ; s called Renaissance Poconos. We have a group for non-binary folx, and it&#039 ; s you know Renaissance Beyond the Binary. So, Renaissance I guess if you want to call it that is sort of the sub-brand for our support group side, and everything else that we&#039 ; re doing is falling underneath the Trans Equity Project Side. But yeah, so I was the instigator, so I get the blame, good or bad. MF: I think the blame is all good (laughter). You mentioned when you were talking about doing some of the taking over workshops since Keystone was cancelled due to COVID, and you talked about a specific workshop that was for trans people and their partners, and that lead me to kind of reflect on, you know, when you were coming out more fully to your spouse, your wife, you were doing that without, you hadn&#039 ; t gone yet to Renaissance. How did you navigate that conversation? Did you have support? What sort of resources helped you with that conversation with your wife? And I guess there&#039 ; s a second question, is your experience in your marriage fueling some of the programming or workshops that you&#039 ; re building today? CG: Yes, absolutely! So, one of the things I think that-- so, transition, you know, when you&#039 ; re a person of trans experience and you decide to come out, and you know transition, you know, whether socially, medically, or legally, it is an inherently selfish act, right? It is an act often of self-preservation. Matter of fact you know, when people say things like &quot ; Oh, you&#039 ; re so brave to transition.&quot ; It&#039 ; s not about bravery. It&#039 ; s literally about self-preservation, right? You know, the rate of suicide attempts for transgender people is at over 40 percent. And that&#039 ; s because people become so unhappy with the transition process, or the fact that they feel they cannot transition, or the stigma that&#039 ; s associated with being a trans person going to high school or whatever, and so we tend to become very, very self-absorbed, I guess, during that process. It&#039 ; s a very easy thing to do, and it&#039 ; s easy to lose sight of the fact that everybody around you transitions right along with you. So, my spouse, she&#039 ; s had to transition as well. Her transition looks different. But, for example, my wife has five sisters and a mom and nieces and nephews and cousins, and she has a huge family. I have one brother and that&#039 ; s like the extent of it. I guess I have a nephew now too. But basically, is that you know, she had to come out to all these people, and she&#039 ; s very close to her family, and she was worried about being rejected by them. You know, they live kind of in the sticks, they&#039 ; re very rural, you know, not what you would call social activists in any way, shape, or form, and so for her, she had to have a conversation with her mom about you know, I&#039 ; m married to a woman now. And deal with all the questions that come with that. My son has transitioned right along with me, you know, so when I go to visit him in New York, and you know, we run into some of his friends, so he works in theater, so you know, we&#039 ; ll go to one of his shows and you know he&#039 ; ll introduce us to all of his coworkers on the show, on the crew, and you know, he has to navigate the fact that you know, this is my dad who is a woman, who has a deep voice and you know huge hands, and broad shoulders, and is six feet tall, right? And coming out for trans people never stops. Never stops. And frankly, it never stops for our family. So, we started our support group for spouses and partners, and that was based on my personal motivation of that my wife needed support, right. And you know I&#039 ; ll say that that group is just thriving, and the woman whose the spouse of another Renaissance member is a rock star and does an amazing job, and you know, one of the great things of COVID has been is that you know we started going virtual, so we have people who call into our virtual support groups, especially the spouses group, from California and Texas and Costa Rica, and you know, all over the place. And so, for example, we did the workshop you know on transition, you know as your partner transitions a few weeks ago, we had over 30 people on that from all over the country, and you know, and they were just so grateful because they all go like &quot ; There was nothing in Iowa for me, and I don&#039 ; t know how to navigate. I don&#039 ; t know what to do.&quot ; And so, the gratitude is wonderful, but even better is the fact that we&#039 ; re able to provide some tools and some resources and just companionship for some of these men and women who are going through these transitions. I think it&#039 ; s really important. But getting back to my wife and I, so I&#039 ; m a huge believer in therapy, so I had my therapist, my wife had her therapist, and then we had a couple&#039 ; s therapist, so we kept the entire therapy population in the Lehigh Valley in business for many years, I think. But so yeah, so my therapist was all about supporting me, my wife&#039 ; s therapist was all about supporting her, and then the couple&#039 ; s therapy was about okay, so let&#039 ; s make a plan on navigating. And literally just because this is kind of how I&#039 ; m wired, but my wife and I built a spreadsheet listing all the people that we had to come out to, and how would we do it. So, you know, her mom, and her sisters would be a personal face-to-face conversation, right? Our son would be a personal face-to-face conversation. My business clients would be a personal face-to-face conversation. You know, my third cousin twice removed? Well, maybe that&#039 ; s an email. You know, certain friends was a phone conversation, and for other people was just like a Facebook post that goes like you know, &quot ; Ta-da!&quot ; You know. &quot ; I&#039 ; m here now!&quot ; Right? &quot ; And take it or leave it anyway you want.&quot ; So, you know we really, we built a plan together, and that was a lot of work. I think you know one of the things for spouses and partners and families is that, so the way my wife often talks about it, she goes like, you know &quot ; You&#039 ; ve been thinking about this for your entire life.&quot ; So, I&#039 ; m going to be 62 in two weeks. I&#039 ; ve been thinking about it for 59 years. And while my wife has known to one degree or another for 34 years, for a long time she didn&#039 ; t really have to think about it. Right? And so, she was like, &quot ; You&#039 ; ve been thinking about this for 59 years, I&#039 ; ve been thinking about it for five weeks. I need time to process.&quot ; And you know, one of the things that would always happen is like, you know I would do something to push the envelope, right? I went out and got my ears pierced, and I never asked to my wife &quot ; So like, hey. Is it okay if I get my ears pierced?&quot ; I just got them pierced. Right? And she came home from visiting her mom, and I go, &quot ; Hey look! You know, isn&#039 ; t this cool?&quot ; And she&#039 ; d go like, &quot ; Why didn&#039 ; t we have a conversation about this? Because now I&#039 ; m going to have to explain this to whoever.&quot ; And so, there were real times when I&#039 ; ve had to slow my transition down to allow my spouse to catch up. And that&#039 ; s a hard thing for me to do, but it&#039 ; s, you know, I&#039 ; ve been married to this woman for 40 years, I&#039 ; ve known her for 45, we have built a life together, we have a wonderful child, and it&#039 ; s pretty important to me so I&#039 ; m not going to lose it. I&#039 ; m going to do everything I can to keep it. MF: How has your marriage changed over from first meeting each other in college, been married, how has that relationship grown and evolved for you across your lives together? CG: So, I&#039 ; m not sure that if you kind of take the whole transgender thing just out of the picture, right, I think our marriage has very much evolved the way that many, many marriages do, right? Where you, when you first meet, you know it&#039 ; s about physical attraction, and exploring each other sort of like you know emotionally, and intellectually, and going like, &quot ; Oh, does this person, do I like having conversations with this person? Do I like hanging out with them? Does my family like them?&quot ; You know, and there&#039 ; s all this sort of initial stuff that you&#039 ; re navigating or you&#039 ; re working through you know when you&#039 ; re in the first few years of a relationship, right? You know, you break up, you make up, you break up, you make up. You know that-- at least we did a lot in college. And then you know you decide in our case to get married or to you know live together, and then you start building, right? So, you know, you buy stuff, and you get a house, and then you have a baby, or you adopt somebody, or you know, but and you start adding layer upon layer upon layer upon layer upon layer, and as you do that, the depth of the connection grows, right? You&#039 ; re growing roots. And then things also evolve, right? So, I can&#039 ; t tell you the number of people who&#039 ; ve been married a long time, and they say you know &quot ; I&#039 ; m married to my best friend.&quot ; Right? So, this&#039 ; ll sound horrible because I&#039 ; m still very passionate about my wife, right, but you know, but it&#039 ; s a different kind of passion, right? You know, to be honest, we don&#039 ; t have sex that often anymore, right? For lots and lots of different reasons. Some of which is because we&#039 ; re just freaking old! (laughs) And you know, we come home from work, and we just go like you know, &quot ; What&#039 ; s for dinner? I want to sit down and vegetate in front of the TV and watch Netflix,&quot ; right? And then you know you have to go to bed and get up and do it all over again the next day, right? Like so you get into a routine sometimes. That routine is wonderful in many ways, right? And then you decide, &quot ; Hey, let&#039 ; s go to Europe and do something fun and spontaneous,&quot ; or you know earlier this year we decided to take a train, overnight train trip to Chicago, and like the first time ever we got a little sleeper cabin you know, which is a whole experience in itself, but you know, you do different things, and you start to explore. My wife is a really avid quilter, and I am not. I&#039 ; m a model railroader, so I have a basement full of railroad trains and the loft of our house just outside my office door here, my wife has all of her quilting stuff, and so she quilts on the third floor, I do my trains in the basement, and in the middle is like the common space, right? Where you know we meet for dinner, and we hang out with our friends, and whatever it is, so yeah. You know, marriage and relationships is a lot of work. And so, like I said, I&#039 ; m a believer in therapy, so you know, when we had our child, not too long after we had our baby, right, which is a life-changing thing, we went to couple&#039 ; s therapy because we needed to figure out how to do it. And yeah, so. I&#039 ; m guessing that someday we&#039 ; ll probably go to couple&#039 ; s therapy again, because it&#039 ; s just good for you to do it. MF: We&#039 ; re getting towards the-- thank you for sharing that. We&#039 ; re getting towards the end of our 90-minute time, but I wanted to just sort of kind of return to, there&#039 ; s so much going on in your life right now, your passion for your wife, your work life, and Eastern PA Trans Equity Project. I&#039 ; m wondering, what is your vision of kind of moving forward for you? Either with Eastern PA Trans Equity Project, your career on-going, what is your vision sort of for the future? CG: Yeah. So, something I&#039 ; ve been giving a lot of thought to. So, I own my own business, I own my consulting firm. You know, I have people that work for me to support my clients, and that business, you know at times it&#039 ; s a 60 hour a week job, other times it&#039 ; s a 30 hour a week job, but it&#039 ; s really important because it helps provide you know for our household, right? And I get a lot of satisfaction from helping my clients to become successful. Trans Equity Project is taking more and more and more of my time, frankly it&#039 ; s where my passion is right now, so it&#039 ; s probably a 30, 40-hour week gig for me right now, and then you know, obviously my marriage and our friendships with others, and you know our love for our son and his wife and helping him out. Those things all take priority too, right? So, it&#039 ; s a real juggling act. So, I anticipate that I&#039 ; m probably two years from retirement, fingers crossed. During that time the Trans Equity Project will continue to grow and expand, and as part of that growth and expansion, we need to start thinking about succession planning, and what does it look like. Right now, it&#039 ; s 100 percent volunteer. Our budget is about $60,000 a year, which is not a lot of money. You&#039 ; re not going to hire staff and pay for staff with $60,000, and do all the other work that we&#039 ; re doing, so you know with our grants, you know this year we&#039 ; ve given out so far $41,000 in grants, so with that $20,000 left over you know, we have to pay for insurance and rent and printing and postage and you know all this other stuff that we do. Support groups and everything else. We&#039 ; re going to need to figure out how to raise more money, and to create something that can be sustained long-- so we can decide to stay small and awesome, which we are right now, or we can decide to go bigger. And one of the things that, at least for me from my vision, is that in Pennsylvania, for trans folk, while there&#039 ; s not enough programming, you know in the City of Philadelphia there&#039 ; s a fair amount of programming and support of trans folk, and the same is true in Pittsburgh. But in between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, there&#039 ; s a whole lot of nothing. And I think we can fill that role. So, when you-- and we can do it virtually. So, if you think about legal name change: So, we can help people to mentor them through the process, that can be done over the phone or via Zoom webinar like we&#039 ; re doing right now. The grant can be provided you know via check or a transfer, financial transfer through the internet. The legal paperwork can be delivered you know through our website and through the internet. We can do that work for the entire state of Pennsylvania from in a virtual way. Really all of our grant programs are designed specifically to do that, so even though they&#039 ; re not part of our quote-unquote designated service area, I was on the phone the other day with somebody from Elk County, Pennsylvania helping them with their legal name change. I don&#039 ; t even know where Elk County is. It&#039 ; s somewhere out in you know, what we euphemistically call &quot ; Pennsyltucky,&quot ; right? It is out in the western part of the state somewhere, and I think like 30 people live there. But, you know, trans folk in these rural areas need support, and I think from a vision perspective, we will have the opportunity to do that. It&#039 ; s really a matter of getting the money and the staff to support us doing that. So, succession planning is a big one. That&#039 ; s a big one for us probably over this next two to three years. And part of that conversation is also going to be, what do we do with the support groups. So, the support groups, by their very nature, pretty much have to be done in person, versus virtually. And by their very nature, they&#039 ; re local in focus. And so, if we decide to truly fill that gap between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, how do we deal with Renaissance, which is a Lehigh Valley-focused program. Or, you know, Poconos-focused program. And how do we, do we keep it? Do we transition it to an independent organization and make sure that it&#039 ; s set up for success? These are really important conversations strategically that we&#039 ; re going to need to have, and I think that for me, this next let&#039 ; s call it five years, that&#039 ; s a lot of what this is going to be about. MF: Well, we&#039 ; re at the end of our time, but before we close, I want to ask, Corinne, is there anything that you are thinking, &quot ; Oh, I wish I would have talked about that!&quot ; Anything at the end that you&#039 ; d like to share? Personally, about your work life, anything that seems important upon which we can conclude? CG: So, I&#039 ; ll just say this. So, for me, transitioning is the best thing I&#039 ; ve ever done in my life. And that may even include my marriage and the birth of my child. Because, if I hadn&#039 ; t transitioned, I may not be here to enjoy my life with my family. I may not be here to do the work that we&#039 ; re doing. Not everybody has to transition. You know, so I kind of talked about that evolution earlier. But we&#039 ; re here to support people no matter what, and if it looks like a transition, we want to make that easier. And that doesn&#039 ; t mean it&#039 ; s not going to be hard. So, you know, when I transitioned and I was coming out to my clients, for example, you know, in some cases it was awesome, right? So, like the client that sells sex toys? Yeah, they go like, &quot ; Yeah, we don&#039 ; t care.&quot ; (laughs) You know, &quot ; We&#039 ; re into everything here.&quot ; One of my other clients is like in the Fortune 50, they&#039 ; re a huge, very conservative organization, and they allow me to employ two people, so you know, if I lost them as a client, not only would it impact me, but it would impact two of the people that work for me. I probably would have had to let them go. And so, I was very worried about it. When I went to their offices and I sat down with my long hair in a ponytail and you know the last time I&#039 ; ve ever, no sorry I shouldn&#039 ; t say that-- the second to last time I&#039 ; ve ever had to wear a business suit, but, men&#039 ; s business suit, my main contact at this corporation said &quot ; Okay, so I guess that means you&#039 ; re getting a new email address?&quot ; And I go like, that&#039 ; s a win, right?! I don&#039 ; t think I could have had a better response than that, frankly, right? &quot ; So, oh we&#039 ; re just going to carry on and you&#039 ; re going to get a new email address. Please tell me what it is,&quot ; right? I had other clients who just literally went dead silent on me and some even stiffed me on money they owed me, frankly. Luckily not a lot. But interestingly enough, one of those clients just reengaged with me like a month ago. Took them five years, but they did it. We, so I&#039 ; ve muddled my way through, I&#039 ; m a planner by nature, you know, had my spread sheet, but is it, there are people out there who will help you. Right? There will be, you know, that person might be me, it might be someone else completely, but that&#039 ; s really what it&#039 ; s about, is like we muddle through life, right? And not just in gender transition, you know. We have to muddle through figuring out new jobs, or buying a car, or you know, going to college or whatever it is, and if there&#039 ; s an opportunity for one person just to sort of reach out their hand and make one of those steps a little easier, then that&#039 ; s what it is. And so, I would respectfully ask that other people do that, right? Just you know when somebody comes out to you and says, &quot ; I&#039 ; m a person of transgender experience,&quot ; know that that is an act of revolution. Know that when that person comes out to you, they are scared to death. They are scared that they&#039 ; re going to lose you as a friend, or as a relative, or as a spouse, or a partner, as a business contact. They&#039 ; re afraid they&#039 ; re going to get fired, they&#039 ; re afraid they&#039 ; re going to get rejected. They&#039 ; re frankly maybe afraid that they&#039 ; re going to be physically assaulted. Just acknowledge the strength that it takes to do that, to say those words, and when we do our trainings on these topics with organizations, you know I was doing it last night with a college, is you know, we just say like, &quot ; When somebody comes out to you, just remember what a big deal it is.&quot ; And then you just say three phrases: The first one is, &quot ; Thank you for telling me.&quot ; The second one is, &quot ; It&#039 ; s going to be a change, but I&#039 ; m here to help you through that.&quot ; And the third one is, &quot ; No matter what, I&#039 ; m with you.&quot ; If you just do that, my anxiety level goes from you know, an eleven, down to a five. And then we can start having real conversations. So. That&#039 ; s my sermon. MF: Thank you Corinne. It was really an honor, a privilege to talk with you today. Thank you so much. CG: Well, thank you. My life is not particularly interesting. I&#039 ; m kind of dull, frankly, but I really appreciate you taking the time out for this. MF: You are not dull at all. This was wonderful, I&#039 ; m so grateful. I&#039 ; m going to go ahead and stop the interview, but we&#039 ; ll stay on Zoom just to kind of conclude together, and I&#039 ; ll say thank you again. CG: Thank you! Copyright for this oral history recording is held by the interview subject. video This oral history is made available with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). The public can access and share the interview for educational, research, and other noncommercial purposes as long as they identify the original source. 0

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“Corinne Goodwin, October 15, 2021,” Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive Oral History Repository, accessed April 19, 2024, https://trexlerworks.muhlenberg.edu/lgbt_oralhistory/items/show/49.