Looking for home, some transgender people find community in unexpected places

Three trans Americans detail how they found joy and community in some of the country’s most conservative states.

Oliver Bertasio loves to sing. He long dreamed of a career in the arts. But, struggling with insecurity, he stayed largely behind the scenes, even while taking theater classes in college.

The Massachusetts native could not have imagined that he would find his voice in Kentucky.

Looking back, Bertasio, now 33, sees that the insecurity came from not understanding his gender identity. It wasn’t until he accepted himself as a transgender man and transitioned while living in New York eight years ago that he felt comfortable in his own skin. But after moving to Lexington about two years ago and finding a welcoming community that embraced him, he found the courage to step onto the stage — joining a church choir and performing with a local theater company.

“I’ve never felt more at home than I do in Lexington,” said Bertasio, who works at a bank where even customers have been uniformly kind — including those who appear to be conservative.


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Updated: 3 months ago
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