"You know, in a weird way, moving kind of feels like when I had my bottom surgery just because it was all hands on deck," said Lily Carollo. Lily is a transgender woman living in Cary with her mother. A rising grad student in the journalism school at UNC Chapel Hill, she's active in advocacy journalism and speaks out about gender dysphoria through her writing.
Lily interviews Joaquin Carcano, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU of North Carolina's lawsuit over HB2 in The Looking Glass Cafe in Carrboro, N.C.. The two discuss their experiences as transgender after HB2.
"I'm lucky compared to a vast majority of trans people in that I pass really well. Nobody has ever told me that I am a man and don't belong somewhere, but I do have to take into account that when I use the women's bathroom I am breaking the law," said Lily after she did break the law and used the women's room in Hyde Hall at UNC following a talk with Mark Joseph Stern from Slate about LGBTQ issues and the law.
"Especially in the wake of HB2 it can be difficult to find a supportive work environment. I had heard from certain sources that The Stock Exchange [the consignment store that Lily works at], was accepting. While only the boss, Leslie, knows, I really like it." Lily only recently started working at the Stock Exchange in Chapel Hill.
Lily got her blood drawn at her doctor's office in Carrboro. Her doctor is the only physician who does hormone therapy in almost a 150 mile radius, so the transgender community in the area all go to her. "Hormone therapy has gotten easier since my surgery, I got to go off of the testosterone blockers because that's not really a problem for me anymore."
"My ideal situation would be to get a writing fellowship at Vox, I've been watching them from the beginning, and I'm going back to school because I feel like I need more experience under my belt before I can get to that." Lily has written several pieces for the website, and was working on a piece for them about her experiences during HB2, while switching tabs and reading their current content.
Lily makes faces and fixes her hair at work.
"My relationship with my mom is right where I like it to be. Supportive, loving, jovial." said Lily of her mother, Denise. The two discuss what was left to pack before the movers arrived.
"At home it's me and my mom, and we're in the midst of moving, but it's good for us. It's closer, I like the new place." Lily plays Halo in her boxed up room while her mother pours herself a glass of wine after a day of packing up the old apartment.
"Andrea has been my best friend since I bugged her in Latin class in high school. She also took care of me for a week when I got a vagina," said Lily. Andrea and Lily danced after unloading boxes in her new apartment in Cary.
Sarah Chen is a senior Pre-Med student at UNC. She volunteers in the Pediatric Oncology clinic at UNC Hospitals as part of an organization called CPALS (Carolina Pediatric Love and Support) that pairs students with patients to serve as mentors and friends during their treatment. On January 22, 2015, Ashanti, a 13 year old pediatric oncology patient, Chen's pal for almost two years, passed away. “I’m not sad because I knew it was coming. For some reason I thought it was going to happen in March, I don’t know why. I don’t think I was prepared, but I don’t really know how you can prepare for something like that," Chen said.
"It's hard to know what to say. I try and let people know how I feel about them as often as I can, and I know they know I care, but I hope that this will be enough," On February 29, Sarah attended Ashanti's funeral outside of Wilmington, N.C.. The morning of the funeral, Sarah sat in her kitchen in Cary, N.C., and wrote a letter to Ashanti's family expressing her condolences.
"We don't have a lot of pictures because when I was with Ashanti I really just wanted to enjoy the moments with her," Sarah said that Ashanti did not like having her picture taken, especially towards the end, but she was glad to have the ones she was willing to be in. "It's nice to know that wherever she is now, she's dancing and riding her bike and causing all the trouble she couldn't while she was stuck at the hospital."
"I love the piano. I can just shut myself in a room for a couple hours and just not think about anything. I love being around people at school and work and the hospital, but sometimes I need to just be by myself." Sarah has been playing for over 16 years.
Sarah talks to her roommate, Katherine, about their days. "We don't really cross paths when we're all busy, but we're close. It was hard right after (Ashanti's passing) because I felt like I couldn't tell anyone in my house. I ended up telling one of them to tell the rest of the house. It's not a normal thing to have to deal with," said Sarah.
"I think I'm a pretty happy person. I'm really organized and realistic enough to avoid stress," Sarah's roommates requested different jump rope tricks, she used to jump competitively before college. "It's a fun party trick, and I used to do it for Ashanti when she was in a bad mood. It always made her laugh."