Juli Grey-Owens is a transgender woman. She says people may be confused about that, and that's OK.

"Within the four walls of the forum, you can ask us anything."

Grey-Owens, board chair and executive director at Gender Equality New York, and other panelists have been traveling across New York state in recent months, sharing their stories and trying to clear up confusion about what it's like to be a transgender, binary, or intersex person.  On Wednesday night, their public forum came to Rochester.

We celebrate Rochester Pride Week with a conversation about "Transformation Thursday." It's a new podcast hosted and produced by Amy Stephens and Penny Sterling, two local transgender woman who are outspoken advocates for the LGBTQ community.

Stephens and Sterling join us to share their individual journeys, what they have learned, how they handle difficult conversations with friends and coworkers, and more. 

  • Amy Stephens, comedian and co-host of  "Transformation Thursday"
  • Penny Sterling, storyteller, comedian, and co-host of "Transformation Thursday"

A debate erupted over social media when pop culture reporter and Billy Eichner advised parents-to-be to consider how they would react if they found out their child was gay. Eichner says if parents don't think they could handle that news, they shouldn't become parents at all.

We talk to guests about their own experiences, both as children and parents, and we discuss the reactions to Eichner's comments. In studio:

  • Tamara Leigh, director of communications for the Out Alliance and mother of two
  • Kim, mother of an LGBTQ youth
  • Pamela Dayton, mother of a transgender youth
  • Karen Bradbury, mother of a transgender teenager
  • Ed Popil (aka Mrs. Kasha Davis), local drag performer and step-parent

Ending a year and a half of uncertainty, the Rochester Institute of Technology is offering hormone therapy to transgender students.

The school had fired a doctor for providing the therapy, which helps transgender people’s physical characteristics align more closely with their gender identities, last year.

At the beginning of this year’s fall academic term, RIT said it would “offer a wider spectrum of care” for transgender students, “most notably the addition of gender affirming hormone therapy.”

We sit down with members of the transgender community to discuss a range of issues, including a controversial political cartoon that recently appeared in the Rochester Business Journal, and the Trump administration's policies on gender. The administration is considering redefining gender as unchangeable and determined by a person's biology.

Our guests share their reactions and discuss the challenges they face. In studio:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office


Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new protections for transgender New Yorkers on Sunday, saying the state health department will add gender identity to a non-discrimination list that already includes race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age and source of payment.

Cuomo said the change was part of an effort to head off efforts by the Trump administration to roll back anti-discrimination measures on a federal level.

Listen to your mother! That's always good advice. And it's the title of an annual production -- a series of real-life stories told by local moms.

What happens when a grandmother has to play the role of mother again, but doesn't have the same legal rights? What does a mother say to a child who is learning more about their transgender self? These are just some of the stories we hear with our guests:

  • Kimberly Melvin, community integration specialist for Starbridge Inc. (2018 cast)
  • Nicole Bayly, judge for the Town of Wheatland, principal law clerk to Family Court Judge James Walsh, and foster/adoptive parent (2018 cast)
  • Terri Cook, author of Allies & Angels, Speaker & Advocate (2016 cast)
  • Sally Bittner Bonn, director of youth education at Writers & Books (production team and 2016 cast)

California will become the first state in the country to offer a nonbinary option on driver’s licenses and birth certificates. This comes as a growing list of colleges is allowing students to indicate which pronouns they use on registration forms. LGBTQ activists say these are big steps forward, but challenges remain.

We talk about what policymakers can do to make institutions more inclusive. Our guests:

We discuss the challenges faced by the trans community of color, which suffers disproportionately when it comes to violence and other issues. In studio:

  • Jahnell Butler, community health specialist at the MOCHA Center, and LGBTQ advocate
  • Jazelle Bonilla, community liaison for the Victory Alliance at Strong Hospital
  • Rudy Lott, community liaison
  • Bionka Castro, LGBTQ advocate

We preview the documentary, Real Boy. It's the coming-of-age story of Bennett Wallace, a trans teenager undergoing a gender transition. While navigating the transition and a strained relationship with his family, Wallace connects with trans folk singer Joe Stevens, who takes Wallace under his wing. Wallace and Stevens are in Rochester for the film's screening at The Little Theatre and a musical performance at Geva Theatre Center, but first, they're our guests on Connections. In studio: