Central PA's LGBT News Source
Editor’s note: As always, change is nonstop. The region witnessed three significant events as they affect the transgender community. Longtime advocate and former TransCentralPA president Jeanine Ruhsam unexpectedly passed away. Immediate past president Joanne Carroll has evolved to form her own social justice entity. And Holly Evans, who bravely shares her story here, is now at the head of the organization.
Greetings. I take this opportunity to introduce myself and share with you a little bit about my life. And how I came upon this opportunity to represent TransCentralPa and all the wonderful people the organization represents.
My name is Holly Evans. I moved to the region 36 years ago to finish my education. Shortly after moving to Harrisburg, I met a very special person. We married and now 34 years later have two wonderful children. Little did I know at that time that I would make Harrisburg my home.
Upon graduation I began working in my chosen profession and have done so ever since. Less than six years after my graduation I started the first of several business. Our first child was born and from what all could see, it was the picture-perfect life. We loved each other, opportunities were before us, we would soon have our second child.
We were The All-American Family with one boy and one girl, and, of course, the dog.
What no one knew, not even my spouse, were the feelings I fought with every day.
The same feelings I had battled since I was five-years-old. Those same feelings I tried to leave behind when I moved to the Harrisburg area, when I married, and when each of my children were born.
I was born physically a male but wanted so desperately to be female. I didn’t understand it at the time and felt so alone. I, like so many people at that time, were unaware how many others out there were dealing with this same struggle.
Over the years I would constantly battle with my feelings and identity. Always afraid of letting anyone know. In time society became more accepting, first with gay and lesbian relationships and later, with the advent of the Internet, there was more information available regarding transgender individuals.
Finally, in the fall of 2014, at the age of 53, I decided to begin my journey and allow myself to be the person I always knew inside.
Along this journey I shed nearly 100 lbs. of weight I carried as barrier keeping me from the person I knew inside. I knew that I’d have to tell my deepest secret to my spouse of 30 years, to my children, family, friends, business partners, staff, and clients. The only secret I ever kept from my wife, and in doing such, risk losing everything.
In September of 2015 I took that first step and opened up to my wife. I told her.
In January of 2016, with her support, I attended my first TransCentralPA meeting. Other than my wife, this was the first time I ever interacted with anyone presenting as Holly. I was nervous. What I found was a wonderful supportive group of people who understood me, accepted me and were there for me.
I want to say that four-and-a-half-years after making that monumental decision to be myself, and three years after joining TransCentralPa that I have been fortunate. My spouse and my children have stood by my side.
I still have my businesses and many of the friends from before embarking on my journey. Its not to say that it was easy, by no means. I, like many other transgender individuals, have family members who no longer speak to me. Like so many others I have lost friends, or those I thought were friends. I lost employees and some clients no longer call. But along the way, I have made so many new friends. I’ve made so many new connections and learned so much about what life is truly about. I have learned to let my barriers down, to open up and be more compassionate towards others.
Looking forward as president of TransCentralPA it is my vision for our members to be more visible and more involved in our community. I want to provide more opportunities for our members and other transgender individuals and their significant others to partake in activities beyond our monthly support group meetings.
We will begin to conduct multiple small group outings such as a movie night, a trip to an Escape Room, a tour of Longwood Gardens or the Gettysburg battlefields, or even attending a ball game. By providing our members more opportunities to get out with friends and enjoy themselves, I firmly believe that we raise the awareness of others as to who we are, and in return we become more self-confident and stronger as individuals.
During my own journey and transition I saw how important it was to have the support of friends along the way. To get out and simply feel good about myself. Not all of our members are so fortunate to have the love and support that I was so blessed with along my journey. Therefore, I want to pay that back. I want to provide opportunities to those members who might not otherwise have them by organizing these additional outings.
I believe that in providing more opportunities and activities that we can foster more friendships among the members of our community. We can become closer. And in doing such, we can continue to help and support the transgender community.
Holly Evans founded Evans Engineering, Inc., a multi-discipline engineering firm that provides services in the areas of Civil/Site Development, Structural Engineering, and Building Design.