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United Way of Lancaster County


Advocating for all those who are marginalized: A Q&A with Joanne Carroll (video)

Maddie Seiler, left, interviews Joanne Carroll at United Way of Lancaster County’s office. (Photo: Kyle Gamble)

“I would ask people to be a little more understanding,” Joanne Carroll said.

Carroll, a transgender woman, is executive director of Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania and two-time member of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.

In earlier life, Carroll spent 20 years in the Air Force, achieving the rank of master sergeant, followed by a career in hospitality. She is a devout Christian.

In an interview with One United Lancaster, Carroll described coming out in her late 50s after years of denial and redirecting her inner self to things she deemed “macho.” She internalized her thoughts in order to avoid bullying and to fit the societal standard. Now, she said, she is able to live her truth internally and externally as she spends every day advocating for everyone who is “othered.”

October and November both feature observances commemorating the LGBTQ community. October is LGBTQ History Month, chosen to coincide with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. November is Transgender Awareness Month: It incorporates Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-19, which leads up to Transgender Remembrance Day, Nov. 20, “an annual observance … that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of trans-gender violence.”

Carroll hopes for a world where everyone can be different and have their own opinions, but a world where we can accept one another and work together for the common good.

“I’m not just advocating on behalf of the trans section of the LGBTQ+ community,” Carroll said. “I am an advocate for anyone who is part of the marginalized community.”