By Courtney Clarke, Live Wire Staff Writer

Coping with change can be very difficult. For many of us change brings about obstacles, pressure, and stress. How we choose to deal with change can either break us or make us stronger. For Diana Lombardi, change was one of the most difficult decisions and transitions that she has had to make.

Lombardi is a transgender who is a strong advocate for the transgender Community. Lombardi’s presentation in the GPA Commons on Monday, April 10 educated and shed light on the difficulties and harsh realities of being transgender.

Being transgender is a process that requires a supportive environment. Acceptance from family and friends is imperative in having a positive outcome for an individual that chooses to come out as transgender. “Coming out is the hardest thing that they will do” Lombardi said. When she chose to come out Lombardi said I “picked my brother because he was more accepting.”

For those who do not have a positive support system; they are in danger of harming themselves. 41% have attempted suicide and 26% use or have used alcohol or drugs she reported.

There are also many stereotypes associated with being transgender. Being transgender does not mean that the individual is gay. Many associate being gay with the transgender community. Lombardi emphasized that it is about gender identity and not about sexual orientation.

For Lombardi being transgender meant she had to “construct a new identity.” With this new identity came many obstacles and barriers. Everything from her driver’s license to her credit cards had to be altered to better suite her new identity. Those who decide to carry out the process of officially becoming Trans must have the official documentation. Lombardi compared this process to “jumping through a hoop of fire.”

The internal conflict of struggling to come out is very strenuous, but having to deal with external pressures can be just as difficult. The transgender community is “always being judged” Lombardi said. Media portrayal and religious pressures contribute to the negative outlook placed on those who choose to live as a transgender. This negative outlook carries harassment and discrimination. In her presentation she reported that 19% were refused medical care due to their transgender or gender non- conforming stance. Those who are transgender also face physical acts of violence.

It is important that we embrace change; not only in our lives, but for others as well. Dianna Lombardi continues to advocate for the transgender community through various forums and presentations. The best way to combat ignorance and effectively bring about change is through education.