Stalking The Elusive Apartment
March 4, 2012 5:54 PM   Subscribe

So, I came out as transgendered about a year ago, and I'm finally financially secure enough to move out of my urban rednecky neighborhood. This, of course, leaves me with a few questions.

1: Does anybody know of any trans-friendly living spaces in Philly, or resources where I could find one? I'm thinking something along the lines of a co-op, but either my Google-fu is exceptionally weak or they are really hard to find. Any help there would be very appreciated.

2: I can't afford to live by myself, so a roommate is going to be necessary; and since I don't want my life to resemble a bad 80's sitcom, with me hiding my transness from the people I'm living with, I'm going to have to be pretty open about things from the gate. So, how should I go about this?

Currently, I'm just scanning craigslist and sending out introductory emails under my old, fairly gender-neutral name (which is what my email account has me listed as), then explaining the situation and giving them my new name at the first possible opportunity. I can see how this might be off-putting for some people, though. Does anybody have any better ideas?
posted by Toby Dammit X to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you searching CL for the keyword "queer?" That should be a useful starting point for finding people who will be trans-friendly. I would also put up a housing wanted ad on CL using the words queer and trans (assuming you identify as queer in some way.) Housing wanted ads don't always net any good leads, but they can't hurt.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:08 PM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

1) I'm not familiar with Philly, but perhaps there is an LGBT community center that you could contact? They might either know of a co-op type place, or be a good place to post ads. Or maybe the have online classifieds.

2) I'd put in your ad that you are trans or looking for a trans-friendly roommate. Saying queer friendly is not going to cut it, because unfortunately there are far too many transphobic queer people. Use an anonymous email account for safety; if someone reacts badly, don't email back. If you end up meeting and you're feeling at all unsure prior to the meeting, you could meet in a public place. If you get bad vibes, trust your gut.

Anyone who is worth living with is going to totally understand why you're being up front with your trans-ness, and is not going to be put off by your directness. Personally, I think it's a sign that you're probably going to be a good, respectful and direct roommate.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:11 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

You should be able to find a lot of queer/trans-friendly housing co-ops or group houses in West Philly. I agree that you should look for key words on Craig's List.
posted by bearette at 6:12 PM on March 4, 2012

I don't have a Philly specific answer to your question - I've seen good outcomes (in my liberal metropolitan area) for transgendered folk with house hunting in traditionally gay neighbourhoods, lgbt oriented online classifieds or fetlife personals. Craigslist gives you a lot more housing options, really opens you up to a lot more social confrontation, so good luck.
posted by joannqy at 6:17 PM on March 4, 2012

I do not have any specifics but would second bearette's suggestion of West Philly for sure.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:23 PM on March 4, 2012

The folks at Equality Pennsylvania might have some resources that would be helpful.
posted by aka burlap at 6:32 PM on March 4, 2012

Re queer vs. trans, I'm definitely not suggesting you write or say (at any point in the game) that you are seeking a queer-friendly roommate instead of a trans-friendly roommate. Queer is just a good key word to put in your housing wanted ad because that's what a lot of people will be doing searches for. Also, while (sadly) some queer folks are transphobic, queer people and ads that mention being queer-friendly are probably a good starting point for a search.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:34 PM on March 4, 2012

Hmm, I was a little hasty in posting. A few minutes more searching also turned up this list of Philly LBGT resources. Maybe you could go through that list and see if any of those sites or organizations operate craigslist-style bulletin boards? Also I found this posting from a year ago. It's old, but perhaps they have another opening in their house.
posted by aka burlap at 6:45 PM on March 4, 2012

My friend Jon/Jonna has been in transition for five years. She is an accountant, which was the perfect occupation, and she found two lesbian nurses who had been together for 24 years to board with all this time. She said that was the absolutely most perfect situation ever. Especially during hormone therapy. They assisted her after the two majors (augmentation and removal) and talked her through the harrowing bits.

I don''t know if you are planning a complete transition at this time but it was a very successful, supportive environment for her.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:57 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not a queer-specific suggestion, but it might help to use an email address that reflects your current name. Just so it doesn't look like you're using someone else's email address, which might set off some red flags (legitimately or not) for me.

Maybe it could be JohnMarySmith@gmail or something? It's a little detail but could go a long way to helping you present yourself as someone who's aboveboard.

Good luck. Philly's a cool town--best wishes for a good fresh start.
posted by elizeh at 7:26 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with most of the answers up above. I am trans (and queer), and am always super upfront when replying to Craigslist housing ads. I don't generally bother responding to ads that don't indicate that they're at least gay friendly, but I usually do searches for "queer" and "trans". I figure that if folks don't respond well to my upfrontness, I probably don't want to live with them anyway.

I would also agree that you should post a housing wanted ad. They aren't always successful, but it's definitely worth a try. I would also advise posting on Facebook that you're looking for housing, mention it to friends and supportive coworkers; basically, do anything you can to get the word out.

I don't know Philly super well, but in other similar east coast cities, I have found that there are plenty of larger group houses full of queer and queer-loving people, so I imagine you'll find something that suits your needs. Best of luck.
posted by jaksemas at 8:53 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

As someone who is trans-hells-yes! and lives in a diverse neighborhood known for embracing all creeds and colors and genders (Hello West Hollywood!!) and as someone familiar with roommates and rental situations from both sides...

Your simplest and most straightforward approach, IMHE, is to have an email address that reflects the name of who you are right now, and use that to contact roommate situations in known LGBT-friendly areas. People who live in these neighborhoods (most of the time) are either LGBT themselves, or like me, are straight but embracing of everyone. It's not that hard to suss people out. Most/all people who don't embrace all types of folks equally absolutely shun my neighborhood and others like us as if we have the plague. GOOD. Because everyone here likes living in our little bubble of safety and diversity while we spread the word:)

People will know what you are about once they meet you. Narrow your criteria to looking in only known accepting communities, and then just get out there. Use your instincts. Trust your judgement. Don't make this a bigger deal than it needs to be. You are YOU. I think you'd make a fine roommate. Others like me will, too.

Also. Remember to be picky! You are NOT begging for favors, here. You deserve an awesome environment. Don't settle. There is simply no reason to settle. Ever.

Best to you!

PS - I'm learning from this thread some folks in the LGB community apparently don't like the T folks... I have no direct knowledge of this, having dated trans and living in LGBT friendly neighborhoods on the East and West coast for the past 20 years, but primarily LA and NYC. I see you are in Philly. Is it that different in the fly-over states? If so, consider other, more established LGBT friendly cities. That you have to be so cautious seems shitty to me, I can hardly imagine. Don't hesitate to move someplace more progressive. I know Portland, Oregon is very trans-friendly, but it is also economically depressed. SF, LA, NYC - or even abroad. Your tribe is out there waiting for you - come join us.
posted by jbenben at 9:00 PM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the advice, everybody. I've already gotten a few bites from people I've been honest with, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 11:51 PM on March 4, 2012

There's a whole section near center city that is known as the gayborhood, and even has rainbow-colored street signs demarking its expanse. Good place to start maybe
posted by MangyCarface at 10:35 AM on March 5, 2012

Thirding West Philly. I lived there while trans (at 46th and Baltimore) and had very little trouble, and saw lots of gender-variant people on the streets. (I have since de-transitioned, but at the time I didn't know I was going to do that.

I also found while looking for roommates in that area that a lot of people, once they found out I was trans, magically had a "friend" appear who was interested in the room, which is why I eventually decided to live alone. I'm sure some of these friends were real but I think some of them were fictional. I think people living in such areas that are not willing to live with a trans person don't necessarily want to tell you.
posted by omicron at 3:46 PM on March 5, 2012

So, just in case anybody's hunting the back pages of AskMe in search of closure, I found a place yesterday! I'll be living with a cool transdude in West Philly. Thanks everybody!
posted by Toby Dammit X at 4:44 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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