What a Great Town We Live In!

On January 27, I wrote a piece for Shout Out titled You’ve Got a Friend, outlining the convoluted journey of a young transman named Tim. He had moved from southern California to England to live with a new family of choice, starting a new life for himself, out from under the extreme religious conservativism of his biological family; he saved the money for the trip surreptitiously, and has no desire to tell his biological family anything at all about his current life or hopes for the future. After nearly six months happily living a new life, he found himself faced with visa issues that necessitated returning to the U.S. to get his paperwork in order so he could remain in the U.K. indefinitely.

His adoptive U.K mom Kathy sent emails to many dozens of LGBT+ organizations all over the U.S., seeking advice, seeking help, seeking any kind of support that might be offered. Portland was on several people’s short list of cities that might be a supportive place for Tim to take refuge in the six months it would take to sort out his visa. Two people specifically recommended contacting PFLAG here in Portland, which is where I come in. Kathy sent an email to PFLAG Portland; I answer the emails for the Portland PFLAG chapter. Kathy and I had a Zoom call the same day she emailed, and it was clear she had found the support she and Tim needed.

Two weeks after her initial email to Portland PFLAG, Kathy and Tim flew to Portland. They arrived January 29. They stayed with my wife and I; Tim is going to remain with us for the duration of his visa process. I wrote You’ve Got a Friend in part to elicit local support for Tim. Several people have stepped forward very helpfully. The result? Before Kathy left a week later Tim’s paperwork for legal name/gender change was submitted, he was enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, he had applied for about a dozen jobs, and he had a doctor’s appointment at Outside In’s Trans Clinic to hopefully receive his hormone prescription. Whew!

Before we connected, Kathy had been beyond worried at the idea of Tim on his own in the U.S. for the six months the visa process would take. As we put her on the plane back to the U.K. Kathy said, “I’m not worried about him now – I’ll just miss him is all.”

As I write this a month later… Tim’s name and gender change are legal, he’s got his new driver’s license (now Oregon – buh bye, California!), he has a bank account in his new legal name, he’s had a job offer, he got all his bloodwork and lab tests done in preparation for getting a hormone prescription in mid-March, he has submitted paperwork to get a new passport and birth certificate, and he’s singing with Bridging Voices, our queer youth chorus. And our cat has a new best friend; Tim has taken over cat feeding duties.

In 1976, at the age of 20, I moved from San Francisco to attend Pacific University in Forest Grove. Did I move back to San Francisco after graduation in 1978? No. I moved into Portland. Even then, the open-armed ethos of this city captured my heart. Portland has exceeded my expectations, fast-tracking Tim into his new life without question, with nothing but loving support coming his way. Way to go, Portland! (As I said in my previous piece, Kathy and Tim are pseudonyms. Everything else – totally true!)

Author: reidpdx

I am an honorary lesbian transman, married to a woman, singing baritone in the Portland Gay Men's Chorus. All me, all the time.

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