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Affirming steps The more than 15 transgender individuals spoke with across the state over the past three weeks attend private high schools and public colleges, are retired and hold down jobs at big-box retailers and Starbucks locations.They are single and in committed relationships, are grappling with whether to come out as transgender and have long openly identified as such.Nationwide, more than 50 percent of transgender youth attempt suicide at least once before they turn 20 years old, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released a study in October that showed that 63 percent of LGBTQ schoolchildren surveyed in Alabama said they regularly heard negative remarks about transgender people in 2013.Indian Springs fostered an environment that helped Loeb feel comfortable enough to come out as transgender last month, just two years after she says she heard the term for the first time and realized there were other people like her in the world.In the few weeks since making the announcement, which she later extended to her peers in Montgomery, Loeb says she has been pleasantly surprised by how accepting the response has been."I thought it would be positive but I never imagined this positive," Loeb said. For nine months, her job required her to line up missile and gunnery targets, but one day she drove into Beirut wearing women's clothing and went shopping at the military mall, reprising a role she had played ever since she began wearing her sisters' dresses in elementary school.
But the issue has led to a patchwork of responses across the nation.
Alabama workplaces are not barred from firing or choosing not to hire people because of their gender identification or expression.
It is more difficult in Alabama than in numerous other states to change one's gender marker on various forms of state identification.
They identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual and somewhere in between.
They attend support groups, one-on-one therapy sessions, LGBTQ centers and advocacy events.