Julia Condolora Oral History


Julia Condolora Oral History



Date Created



Oral History


Julia Condolora talks about growing up in New York, knowing she was transgender from a young age, getting married, moving to Colorado, coming out as a trans woman within her marriage, and navigating those dynamics. As well as more generally life for transgender people in Colorado, and her experiences with the Gender Identity Center (GIC).


Moving Image


Condolora, Julia



Is Part Of

Colorado LGBTQ History Project




Duffield, David (interviewer)


Find her physical collection at Denver Public Library Western History https://archives.denverlibrary.org/repositories/3/resources/9167


DUFFIELD: All right. Today is June 19th, 2021. My name is David Duffield. I am interviewing Julia Condolora for the Colorado LGBTQ history project. Julia, thank you for agreeing to do this first part of your oral history series.

CONDOLORA: You’re welcome.

DUFFIELD: Wonderful, All right, well, let's go ahead and get started with some storytelling. So, Julia, you're from upstate New York, is that correct?

CONDOLORA: Yes it is.

DUFFIELD: Do you want to tell us a little bit about where you're from? and what it was like growing up there.

CONDOLORA: I'm from Syracuse, NY. And it would seem like a good place to grow up at the time. I'm not sure it still is, but at the time we were, we grew up on the north side of Syracuse. It was mainly Italians and but a lot of other ethnicities. I'm not very good at speaking that word and. So, I had friends. I had lots of friends, but it was very white. I will say that there were not many people of color around my neighborhood at all. And I went to Holy Trinity Catholic school with my sister and my brother. It was about probably. Eight blocks from my house and we would. Walk to school every day. What else would you like to know?

DUFFIELD: What, tell us about your family?

CONDOLORA: OK. Well, we're Italian Catholics my grandmother owned a house. You know, a lot of Syracuse's two-family houses with upstairs in it downstairs. So, there's an upstairs flat and downstairs flat, and my grandmother lived downstairs and my grandfather and my aunt and our family lived upstairs. I had a brother and a sister, both older than me. They're both very mean to me. Most of my life, but they both are nice to me now. And my father, he managed like an auto parts store. My mother stayed at home until I was in high school, and then she's she worked as a secretary. We went to church every Sunday, had a meal at my grandmother’s house downstairs every Sunday with my also my uncle on my mother's side would come over with his kids. There was two boys and later a girl and. You know the kids play around and the family would get together. It was just a big thing every Sunday. Always pasta.

DUFFIELD: Always pasta, huh? So big, big Italian family, huh? What were some things you were good at in elementary school?

CONDOLORA: My memory from elementary school is not that good, I really, I'll be honest with you, I can't remember much of anything at all. You know, all my they're all like little pictures, you know, or little, short little segments. You know, I remember playing football with my friends in the street. I remember throwing snowballs at cars. Yeah, that's just little things like that. We, like I we had a camp on an Oneida lake in Verona Beach and we used to go out there for the summers. So, I do remember a lot more of that. I seem to like that period of time when I was not in school with the nuns and out at the lake, and we would spend all day in the water. Burning our feet on the hot sand.

DUFFIELD: What is Lake Oneida like in the summer?

CONDOLORA: What is it? Pardon me.

DUFFIELD: What does Lake Oneida like in the summer?

CONDOLORA: Well, it's a very Big Lake. It's like 21 miles long and seven miles wide, so it's fairly good size piece of water. It's very shallow and very warm, right where our place was, the sand went out. I mean, it was shallow out to probably a football field long out until before it got deep enough where you would be above your head, you know. So, it was very kid friendly and all the kids in the neighborhood, we'd all get together, and it seemed like everybody had kids my age. So, we had a pretty good little group of hooligans, we became hooligans. Little bit later on in. But we had a lot of fun. It would get windy at times, sometimes the wind. Would last a couple of days in a row. Which would force you inside, but other than that it was really a lovely place.

DUFFIELD: When you say you became a little. Group of hooligans later on, what do you mean?

CONDOLORA: Well, when we got in our teenage years, then. Then we were like more like. When we went to the lake, went out in the lake would usually be either to water ski or drink beer and smoke cigarettes.
And you know, we hung out as a. As a group. And we would walk down to there's a place nearby called Sylvan Beach and we would go down there and just have fun. It was kind of like a little amusement park area.

DUFFIELD: Tell me a little bit about. Some things you did for fun besides going to the lake.

CONDOLORA: As a kid? In my elementary years.

DUFFIELD: Elementary, Middle School, high school.

CONDOLORA: OK. So elementary school. Like I said, I don't have a whole lot. Of memories I. Know I used to play football with my friends. When it came to sports, I was not very good at any of them. I was at the lakes, so I never played baseball and. I wasn't any good at basketball because. I'm very short. And also, very uncoordinated. I'll work together to be a thing that I was not good at sports. You know, I, so I don't really remember what I did with all my free time. You know, I see, I guess we used to watch TV.
High school years, the beginning of high school years was probably pretty similar to that. Didn't do too much when I got a little bit older, my friend had cars. We just go driving around all night long, driving around, trying to pick up girls or again smoke cigarettes. I think I started smoking when I was, old enough, so I probably was about 14.

DUFFIELD: Ohh wow, that's pretty young.

CONDOLORA: Yeah. Yes, I know. Well, most of my. Friends were a little bit older than me. And both my parents smoked. It just was us almost like everybody I knew smoked, so it was. Kind of a. Right to passage that you know you would take up that awful, awful, disgusting addiction. So I wish I'd never done it, but I did it.

DUFFIELD: I'm not judging, believe me, I started smoking probably about the age of 19, too. So, tell me a little bit about. When you were a kid, we mentioned in. Our pre interview that you. You sort of. Experimented with dressing differently, is that correct?

CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah, when I was very, very young I remember, you know again these are snippets. Really good memories. But I do. You know, I was like. Love to put on my mother's clothes, none of them fit me. But she had a lot of clothes. Things like slips. I mean, women wore so many more clothes than they do now. And dresses and high heels. She had all that sexier stuff. And my sister had stuff that I could actually fit into. And, you know, I would try and her bathing suit and other things that she had. Whenever I had the house to myself, which wasn't much when I was as young kid. But whenever I got the opportunity, I would do that. I do remember that. I didn't, didn't I? Didn't really stop doing that until I think maybe when I got to puberty. I kind of got away from it a little bit. But also, around that time it became. I don't know that kind of. Sexual thing, too. You know where it aroused me sexually. And that changed the dynamic of dressing up. And that probably lasted. I don't know. Somewhere in my 20s I decided. That you know it really, I just hated to take the clothes off. And you know when. I knew that I had to go back and get out of this persona. And the whole sexual thing kind of went away. Just didn't be. It didn't like it. The turnon thing factor was no longer there.

DUFFIELD: It's a common way for folks to compartmentalize how they feel about something in in a in a part of many different kinds of transition. When you were a kid, did you ever. Were there any? Were there any things that you really liked in terms of clothes? Like, did you have a particular style or a particular kind of form?

CONDOLORA: I don't think there's anything I liked. I loved the silk, the silky feeling of some women's clothes. That's again why I kind of liked my mother's stuff a little bit more because she had more of that kind of stuff than my sister did. My sister’s [clothes] was, you know, normal girls clothes at the time. Which. You know, since it's such stuff like that.

DUFFIELD: Did you find yourself reading or looking at any kind of literature like? Any magazines or any newspapers that had kinds of things that you wanted or images that you like?

CONDOLORA: Not that I can recall. It doesn't mean that it didn't happen. I just don't really remember any of that. I think my earliest recollections of. Things like that would have probably been like later in high school, late high school.

DUFFIELD: And later in high school, do you remember what those were?

CONDOLORA: You know, Playboys became popular, and I think Hustler came out somewhere around that time. You know, I don't really remember. I'm sure there were like catalogs of women's clothes and stuff like that, but I don't remember like looking at that stuff.

DUFFIELD: OK. So, and you mentioned when you were a kid, someone taught you that that was wrong. Is that correct?

CONDOLORA: I don't know. Somebody taught me or if I just came to that conclusion myself, I don't. I don't remember. Ever remember getting caught. But I don't. I just kind of it's hard for me to believe that, I never did.


CONDOLORA: I do remember coming close a few times.


CONDOLORA: Well, you know, like my parents coming home with me, having to run into the. Into my room and shut the door and lock it. For you to get undressed. And then what do I do with this stuff and all that kind of thing?

DUFFIELD: Did you have to hide the clothes?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, because I'd have to put them away when I could, you know? They weren't my clothes at that point, so.

DUFFIELD: Your sister's clothes or your mom's. Do you remember? Any kind of shame? Or guilt around it at that. Point or was it just kind of? Oops, I need to.

CONDOLORA: I'm I'm absolutely sure. I felt shame around it. You know, I don't remember. You know, I just don't really remember having a lot of feelings about things back then, but it's more of my actions that the fact that, you know, I didn't tell anybody. It's just that I didn't. Do it in front of my parents or anything like that. I I didn't tell anybody. You know, I didn't have any close confidence that where I'd say ohh just what I do when I'm alone or. You know, this is something I. Like to do.

DUFFIELD: Were you aware? So, when I speak with people born after World War II and between 1965. There's just this superfluous, like negative imagery for homosexuality as well as for transgender-ness. Were you aware of any sort of imagery or how were people referring to? I guess folks would say. Crossdressers at that point, would they?

CONDOLORA: I remember it always being a very negative thing. And it was. Really triggering to me a lot. You know, there was, of course, the TV shows like the Flip Wilson playing Geraldine. Well, that was just kind of cute. You know, I never really, looking back on it, I could see where it was, maybe sometimes inappropriate, but for the most part he was just playing a character and he would dress up to play the character and it wasn't really that that didn't trigger me so much as. Like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I guess that was a little bit later in life, but that triggered the shit out of me when I went to see that. My friends, loved that show and they would go every week to throw the toast and do all this. The rice and all that. And I went. And you know, they said, oh you got to go see this and that. I went once and I said, OK, I'm never going back to that because. It was like. I don't know way too sexual and way too. I just looked at that person and said, Well, that that's not. You know, that's just not me. I also remember one time with my friends in the mall. And we passed a crossdresser coming in the opposite direction and just every single person in the mall looking at him and laughing and thinking, oh my God, I felt so bad for that person. But it also was just like one of those things I said, OK, that's the reason. Why you don't want anybody to know that you do this.

DUFFIELD: Let's pause for a moment and reflect on this very critical moment. So, let's take you back to that moment. Right. You were in the mall. Do you remember about how old you were?

CONDOLORA: I was a teenager. I can't tell you exactly. It could have been. 16 or 17 it have been 15.

DUFFIELD: Do you remember what city this was in?

CONDOLORA: In Syracuse.

DUFFIELD: You remember what mall?

CONDOLORA: Shopping town, I think.

DUFFIELD: OK, so so.

CONDOLORA: We didn't have a lot we didn't have. A lot of malls. I think shopping tells me maybe was the only mall.

DUFFIELD: OK. And so tell me what do you remember seeing you're walking into the? And what happens?

CONDOLORA: So me and my friends are walking in one direction and this person was walking in the opposite direction and walked past us. And of course, my friends had some good comments to make. But I also noticed that everyone else in the mall notice this person. I mean, you know. There are people that cross-dress and really try and play the part so that no one can tell that they're not the opposite sex and. They're this person was obviously not in that genre. He was. I'm going to say he I guess I don't. I don't really know what his pronouns would have been, but he wasn't really trying to pull it off as much as being out in public in women's clothes.

DUFFIELD: So more trying to be on the stealth side of things or.

CONDOLORA: No, he was not trying to be on the stealth side of things. He was obviously. Not trying to be that way.

DUFFIELD: So very so. How was this person dressed?

CONDOLORA: He had a dress on. Honestly can't remember if he was wearing heels or not, he had a purse. A kind of crummy wig and not very convincing. This is a wig, wig. And that's I can't remember much more than that. I can't remember if he was wearing makeup or not.

DUFFIELD: Was that your first time seeing someone dressed like that in public?


DUFFIELD: So, you walk past this. Person some lewd comments are made by your friends,it shocks. You I assume. How did you feel after you after you after that? Person walked by and they made those comments.

CONDOLORA: Well, I felt bad for the person. I don't know. I felt ashamed of myself even. Though I was with the. You know what I mean? I wasn't the person that that everybody was making fun of, but I realized that. I could be.

DUFFIELD: Ah, so you realized that you could be. What does that mean?

CONDOLORA: Well, it means that I like to dress up. And even though at that point in time I was not doing it very much, you know, at that point I was more just interested in girls than anything else in life. My sex drive that kicked in and, you know, that was a typical kind of boy at that point that, you know, that's what boys do they. Want to have sex, not that I did, but I still wanted to. And but I also realized that this this was me. It was me; you know, that was walking in the other direction. And you know, honestly it. You know, I would have looked better than him in that dress for her, but again, I'm just not sure the pronouns, but I also really, I just realized this. This was a person that I could be that everybody. Would make fun of so, (talks over each other) a little shame, even though I wasn't the person.

DUFFIELD: OK. So, there was a shame associated with that. I mean, it's a pretty obvious thing to feel when someone is being made fun of. So, after that, were you dressing before this? How often?

CONDOLORA: Ohh, you know I dressed ever since I was. A little kid, I mean, I. But during once puberty hit, I really didn't do it very often because I don't know. When I did it, it was always more of a sexual thing. You know, maybe I would get sexually aroused by putting the clothes on, which. Made it a little bit. Less comfortable for me to do. If that makes sense. So you know. It was more of a thing that I really never wanted to. Do anymore, but I would still do it, occasionally.

DUFFIELD: OK, so and that began probably right is about 13 or 14 years old.


DUFFIELD: So in general, like what was life like for you when you were at home in, in middle school and high school?

CONDOLORA: When I wasn't at home?

DUFFIELD: No, what like in in just in terms of school and family life.

CONDOLORA: Ohh, I think school, school was… I had lots of friends in grade school. You know, it was. It was a neighborhood school. Everybody walked to school, you know, we'd walk home together. Pretty normal I would say.

DUFFIELD: Hold on just a second. To pause real quick. So you had lots of friends at home.

CONDOLORA: Yeah. Friends in the neighborhood I had. Different set of friends at the lake during the summer, so I had this had lots of friends when I was a kid in high school it became a little more difficult for me because I didn't have a whole lot of friends at school. But they were from all over the city that went to this school. So I only had a few and it really was like in my junior and senior year that I became pretty good friends with some kids. But before that, the first two years was very awkward for me. I was always, you know, and I still am an introvert. But more so when I was a kid. Making new friends was never an easy thing for me to do.

DUFFIELD: What were some things that you liked to do in school?

CONDOLORA: I was always good at math, but I don't remember liking anything in school as far as.

DUFFIELD: Why do you think that was?

CONDOLORA: I don't know.

DUFFIELD: Well, you said your parents sent you to an all-boys school and your brother and sister went. To a public school, is that right? Why was that?

CONDOLORA: Well, I'm not sure I really, I speculate that it was kind of their form of conversion therapy. But you know I never wanted to go to that school. I fought it all the way. My mother just insisted on it, and it was very expensive to go to that school too, and we were not really like rich people, so it was kind of another thing that said, why am I being forced to go to this school? And why are you spending all this money? It just didn't make sense. You know, if I want to look at the best possibility, they wanted me to have the best opportunities going forward in life, but they certainly didn't do that with my brother. He went to like the technical school; Central Tech. And my sister went to the local high school, which is just a public school, and she was really smart and like a really good kid. My brother was kind of a problem child, but. Just don't know why the insistence I'm going to that school. I don't understand. To this day, I don't understand it and I wish they were still alive so I could ask them.

DUFFIELD: When did they pass?

CONDOLORA: My father passed in like I want to say like 79 or 80 I don't know. I'm not really good at keeping dates. My mother was probably around like 86. Or maybe even 1990.

CONDOLORA: And so you should have my numbers done better, but.

DUFFIELD: No, we'll get to it, but I guess the question is like what was it like, feeling, did you repress your feelings for dressing or for doing anything differently at the school?

CONDOLORA: At CBA (Christian Brothers Academy)? Oh, oh, yeah, yeah. I did pretty good during high school at repressing my feelings.


CONDOLORA: Well, I just I kept it at Bay as much as I could. I mean, I didn't dress up that much. It would just sometimes get the better of me, where I'd have the House to myself and. Especially after my mother went to work, I'd be at home after school for a while and. Sometimes the desire, would get the better of me, but I didn't really want to do it.

DUFFIELD: Were there any triggers for the desire?

CONDOLORA: Not that I recall.

DUFFIELD: Did you have clothes that. You had already picked out.

CONDOLORA: You mean that I saw my mother wearing or my sister wearing? Well, I know my sister really liked her bathing suits. She had bikinis and stuff.

DUFFIELD: Oh, I see.

CONDOLORA: Those were always a little bit exciting to me. Can't really remember my mother's stuff too much, other than that she had a lot of silky stuff and I really like the feeling of the silk against my skin.

DUFFIELD: After, high school, so you graduated in 1971. Is that right? Yeah. OK. So let's define you. Let's characterize you as a as a as a teenager coming out of high school. It's you're 16 or 17 years old. What do you like? How do you tell other people about yourself? They describe you as. How do they describe?

CONDOLORA: How would people describe me when I was 16 or 17? Well, gosh, I don't know. I was quiet. I didn't talk much. Wasn’t very good at sports. But my friends probably all liked me pretty much you. Know as I was, I. Was I was a good friend, I think. People would describe me as that.

DUFFIELD: Who were some of your friends?

CONDOLORA: Well, again I had like during high school I had three sets of friends. I had my neighborhood friends. I had my high school friends because they were not from my neighborhood and I had my lake friends. So, my like friends, we were all just we just all had a good time when we were together, we were it was summer vacation. You know, we used to play cards. Later on, smoking drinking. We had a long history because we had grown up together, you know, through grade school, and even though we all went to, you know, some, we went to different high schools. Which is kind of strange when I think back on it. I had some in my neighborhood. friends went to the public school. I had some that went to a different Catholic school called Bishop Grimes, and I had some that went to different public high schools. For various reasons we had we had like this one technical high school or if you were going to get into like being a. Or shop or, you know, feel like shopping. All those kinds of classes. That was the school that you would want to go to. And they did teach. Academics there, of course, but it was more geared towards. The tech trades and all that kind of stuff, so we all went to different places and but my neighborhood friends, we had a long history, and we hung out together a lot. Especially after school. I didn't hang out with my high school friends other than at high school because they were all from different neighborhoods, so you know, they were too far away to just go see. You know, unless there was a function at school that we're all going to. I rarely went to those even because it was. It was a bus trip away. And I didn't play sports. I think a lot of those. Guys, they got to be better friends because they're on the track team or on the baseball team or etcetera, etcetera. Wearing band also was not a very good musician either, or I guess I tried hard at that but was never very good at playing any of the instruments I tried to play.

DUFFIELD: What were some things that you? (Condolora begins to speak) go ahead.

CONDOLORA: I guess I'm done, yes.

DUFFIELD: Well, I was just curious, you said you tried a couple of. Did you feel unsuccessful or successful? A lot of things or what were some. How are you feeling as a as a kid coming out of high school?

CONDOLORA: I don't think I had a lot of confidence in myself. Again, I was quiet and I was kind of shy. It took me a long time to make friends and usually, but when I did they came really good friends. But yeah, I I tried to play. First I made my parents buy me drums and I tried to play those. Drove everybody crazy and they never really got very good at it. They were glad that I finally gave up on those and I went from that to guitar. I don't know. I got to where I could learn to play songs on on the guitar, but I was never like able to like, listen to a song and start playing it like some of my friends could, you know? Some of my neighborhood friends put together a band and I kind of felt left out of that because I was not very good at it. And I kind of felt a little left out of some of the other things because it was not good at sports. So there was some feelings thereof, oh the right word. I did feel left out of a few things over the years, like because of that. Amongst my friends.

DUFFIELD: So, might be ostracism or frustration.


DUFFIELD: And not necessarily ostracism or just maybe frustration. Finding trying to find your fitting in the world and like I mean, I teach high school, so I and I experienced that myself growing up. So it's like you. You often just, you're just trying different things and then eventually you you find your thing, but it takes. A while you know.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, it took me forever, really.

DUFFIELD: What did that thing eventually turn out to be?

CONDOLORA: Woodworking. It turned out to be that I was very good at it and. Designing, designing things and building them. I seem to have a knack for it.

DUFFIELD: And when did you find that out?

CONDOLORA: Ohh gosh I must have been. I started doing carpentry around 1976. But that was pretty, you know, that wasn't. What I'm talking about now, the woodworking came probably about. 1980 I'll say oh 88 somewhere in that area where I. Yeah, no, probably 80 where I started doing finer stuff and you know eventually, I kept getting better at it was one of those things where I got better at it. I went to school for a drafting. I got another degree in drafting and I think it was around the 90s. That's when I and I opened my shop around. Ohh God, I'm so terrible with numbers.

DUFFIELD: That's why we did the pre interview so I have those handy. It's 1998, I think is what you said. But let's come back.


DUFFIELD: Let's come back to no. Trust me, my memory is the same way. I have to write down my own timeline constantly. That's interesting that you would find like. Artistic niche or or skill or like like you would find a groove, so to speak. No pun intended for the woodworking, but you would also like that's about the same time you start to dress more and and eventually when you get married you know there's a kismet. I think around 1978, 1980 we're finding oneself do you. How do you feel?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, no, I agree. You know, I also the other thing about the woodworking and my when I opened up my shop is it really gave me a way to cope. With what I was feeling, it gave me an escape from it and it gave me the opportunity to cope a little bit because when you know if I was in my shop on a Saturday and nobody was around, I could dress however I wanted. And I did, yeah.

DUFFIELD: Ohh in the 90s. Yeah. Ohh wow. OK cool. So, I can imagine you. What would you dress like or how would you dress?

CONDOLORA: Ohh I just had some clothes, I mean not. I wouldn't get all dressed up because it's. You know, it was more like just feeling a little free, freer to dress, like a woman, basically.

DUFFIELD: That's a wonderful image I'd like to put a pin in that and actually reflect on that when we get to that. Probably next time because it's a good stop. It's a good stopping point actually, because right about that image of yourself dressing in the woodworking and just finding and like that, some of the pieces that come out at the time in particular, let's come back to. To Oneida. And then so you graduate from high school in 1971 and you? Go on to a. What is it, Mohawk?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, Mohawk Valley Community College.

DUFFIELD: And what would? What were you studying there? Where was that? What was that like?

CONDOLORA: I was studying electronics. And my original goal was to get a 2 year degree and go on to Buffalo where the where I could get a bachelor's degree. That was my original goal when I decided to go to school there and that was probably the period of time when I trust the least because I was living with roommates, men. It just didn't. There just really wasn't an opportunity for that. It was also a period, though, when I. Discovered a little. Discovered pornography a little bit more. Let's say, you know.

DUFFIELD: OK. So, you said Playboy and Hustler, right?

CONDOLORA: Oh not only that, but you know we. We went to a couple movies at like Adult Theater Place because there was one of those in Utica. I think that's when Deep Throat came out.

DUFFIELD: Ohh yes, I'm going to pause here for just a second excuse me. So, you said, you went to this theater and is it OK to talk a little bit about more? What happened at the? Is that something you not want to talk about?

CONDOLORA: No, it's OK to talk about, nothing happened other than watching the movie.

DUFFIELD: Ok. So, you started to dress. So, this is the period of time. When you're dressing the least right.


DUFFIELD: But what role did Playboy and Hustler play in in that process.

CONDOLORA: Well, I just really appreciated. The way that women looked. Other than that, I don't think it really played much of A role in my life. At that point, I still was not really clear on who I was other than I like to dress. You know the word transgender. I don't think I discovered that until, 1990 or later? I mean, I'm not even sure. Maybe like the mid 90s? I probably at some point in there I discovered the word cross-dresser and that's the word I used. For myself, for, you know, until the word transgender came along and all of a sudden, the whole thing, you know, it's kind of like the light bulb going off and saying ohh, OK, that's what it is.


CONDOLORA: And but even before that night, I can't put a date on it. But probably shortly after I moved to Denver. My I my how I looked at women began to change more of a, wow, I'd really like to go to bed with her to a wow, I really wish I looked like that. I would become jealous of women. Losing my voice. I usually talk this much.

DUFFIELD: It happens, believe me. Would you like to pause and grab some water?

CONDOLORA: Oh, could I please?

DUFFIELD: OK, so after a quick break you. You mentioned you would become jealous of women.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, it's, you know, it's just like. Ohh I see a really. Beautiful woman walk by me and rather than. Ohh, I'd like to go to bed with her. I would kind of think like Ohh God, she has the nicest butt. I wish I had a butt that looked like that.


CONDOLORA: She has lovely breasts. I wish I had those. You know the Various things like that. So I began to look at. Other women in it, just in a different way. And they used the word other women. Now I don't know that I would have used that term then, but. You know, maybe that was the. That was definitely the beginning of me looking at this whole thing that was going on with me a bit differently. And the cross dressing became. I think different too. I certainly lost that sexual urge somewhere around that time as well.

DUFFIELD: So, it's shifted. This is a very important point though, it seems like. This happened after you moved to Denver.

CONDOLORA: Oh yeah, yeah.

DUFFIELD: And so the sexual, the sexualization, the sexualization of the of the act began to diminish, and then the embodiment of the act began to ascend.

CONDOLORA: Absolutely, yes.

DUFFIELD: OK. Why do you think that shifted?

CONDOLORA: I think I was just looking at myself in a different way. Self-realization I'm not really sure. I just, know that you know what I mean. The point where I would not want to take the clothes off, just became more and more and became harder and harder for me. So, I would have to find other ways to cope with that dysphoria that I felt.

DUFFIELD: Was your iconographic. I guess that's the word I will choose to use because I don't know a better one. But so, like at some point people are getting inspiration for how to dress and for how to act from other people and from imagery. Right. Was your imagery beginning to change? Because I think you mentioned that hustler and like Playboy were maybe primary sources, the things you might go to first. Did your imagery shift?

CONDOLORA: Not I'm not sure.

DUFFIELD: OK, maybe that's something we can think about, but it's it seems like in that process because there's a process about how someone internalizes something then thinks about it, reflects and presents it. But that's for another point. When you go back to Community College, what? Are some memories that come to mind. So you studied electronics, right? What were some of those classes like and what was your? What was your social life like?

CONDOLORA: OK. Well, so the first year I had a girlfriend and. I spent most of my free time with her. A car accident, a bad car accident. The first quarter of the of my freshman year, so I missed a bunch of time. It was very hard for me to catch up to that. Had to really work. Hard to study and just to keep a C basically. And like I said, and then my free time was spent with my girlfriend, I didn't really make too many friends, but. I did have roommates that I just kind of got matched with. That weren't really friends. I mean, we just moved into the same place, so we were. We were, we became roommates. Two of them were in police science and there was another one. I'm not sure what that other one was in anyway. We weren't really. We didn't really hang out together too much. It was more just. We lived in the same house. Towards the end of my freshman year, I started to make friends with people that were in my. But we're also taking electronics. And you know, we got to know each other. You know, things got to be a little more. I got to have more and more friends. I my girlfriend broke up with me. So, I was spending more time, socially, it's at the school. And then in my second year, I ended up running for. I forget what the student sent it. I don't know why I ended up getting elected. I wasn't real popular. I did end up getting on there and so I had that was. Kind of fun. And you know my friendships with the people that I met the first year were better and we ended up getting a place together. So it was now I had roommates that were friends, and we were also in the same program. It was a lot of really good times. So it was good. I think I was. I became a little more outgoing. Too during my. Second year in school.

DUFFIELD: You probably feel more comfortable. You said you were elected to the student Senate, is that right? Was that your first time in a kind of, I guess what I would term a leadership position.

CONDOLORA: Absolutely.

DUFFIELD: What was that like?

CONDOLORA: I did it. I did it on a whim and I didn't really think I would get elected. It was it was cool. It was really a confidence builder for me.

DUFFIELD: What were some things you did?

CONDOLORA: Ohh you know we. We would just vote on things, and it was mostly mostly what we did was spend the student fees like every student had to contribute fees to when they went to school there, and we would spend them. So, we put on like the spring weekend and we'd hire a band and, you know, put on a concert and do things like that. And basically, I was always just voting on whether or not to spend money on things I wasn't in any other committees. It wasn't like I was part of the planning of these things, but I was, you know, and I was voted yes.

DUFFIELD: What were some things that you and your friends were doing? You said you had fun.

CONDOLORA: Ohh, we used to do a lot of stuff we did. A lot of drugs, unfortunately.

DUFFIELD: I mean, it was the 70s. Just going to say. So were you smoking pot, doing LSD or some?



CONDOLORA: All of the above.

DUFFIELD: All of the above OK.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, all the above, yeah. And we like, you know, we used to. Like go out and we like nature. So, we go out to a like a waterfall and take some LSD and spend the afternoon. We went fishing a few times. That was fun. Go bowling. Almost anything that we did turned into being a lot of fun.

DUFFIELD: Nice. And so were you dressing at all? You didn't dress at all. During that period of time.

CONDOLORA: You know not to my I don't remember dressing at all during that period.

DUFFIELD: And then so you graduated in 1973 right.


DUFFIELD: And where did you? What was life? Like after you graduated from Community College.

CONDOLORA: It was pretty horrible, I stayed down one extra semester over there, trimesters at that school, one extra trimester and took some extra classes even though I had graduated. Just because I didn't want. To leave college. And then I moved back home and. I got a job. Working in electronics. I pretty much, I hated my job. I hated living at home. I hated being back in Syracuse like, you know, most of my friends were all still in college. Or they just moved away, or they're in the army because the.

DUFFIELD: Vietnam.

CONDOLORA: yeah. A lot of them joined so they wouldn't have to go to Vietnam so. It was pretty lonely, you know, I was you know I was at home. I couldn't wait to get out. Of there I had. To go someplace and then, you know, one friend had come to Denver. And he said he suggested that we come out so. Me and a couple of other guys moved out here and. You know I. Didn't even really think at the time. I didn't realize if I would stay here or not, I knew nothing about Denver. It just wasn't Syracuse. And yeah, the rest is history, as they say, which once I was here, I never wanted to leave.

DUFFIELD: I mean, I mean. Well, let's pause and say what. Was your first impression when you came out or where were you living?

CONDOLORA: I was living in right across from City Park on 17th and Monroe.

DUFFIELD: And what year was this?

CONDOLORA: That was 1974. I worked for RCA, so I was doing still doing electronics. I hated that I hated my job, but I loved everything else about Denver and Colorado. It was in July and the weather was like perfect it was. It would be like really hot during the day, but we get like a little rain at night. So much different than New York, where it gets humid at night, and it would. Be like so hot. You could never get any relief. You know, yeah. I it didn't take long for me to say, OK, you know, no matter what, I got to figure out a way to stay here because I don't want to go back there or go somewhere else anyway.

DUFFIELD: What was your sense of the city at that point?

CONDOLORA: Well, you know compared. To Syracuse, it was a big city, but. It wasn't too big. You know, I think there might have only been one or two skyscrapers downtown. It was it was very friendly. A little maybe. No, I'm not. I'm not going to say that. It was even, like, more liberal than Syracuse would have been at the time. It gave me an anonymity, which was nice because I didn't know anybody here besides my roommates and the people I worked with. It gave me the opportunity to go to like adult bookstores and stuff where I would never have considered doing something that in Utica or in Syracuse because I was always too afraid that I would get caught.


CONDOLORA: So, it did give me that and I like that. Also, you know I had I when I moved out here, I also thought, well, this is a great opportunity to become less introverted, be more friendly, you know, get out there. Be a different person. Well, that didn't really ever work out because you are who you are. You know, you can't really just change yourself overnight.

DUFFIELD: Yeah, that's true.

CONDOLORA: But other you know, it was good. I I loved my first. I don't know. I've loved living here the. Whole time I've been here.

DUFFIELD: Well, let's pause here. This is probably a good opportunity to do a little bit of wrapping up because we believe it or not for an. Hour and a half. I'm curious like in in that first. Period of time. Like when you come out to Denver, you're living at 17th and Monroe. Did you have a sense of feeling different? Would you have described yourself as a crossdresser at that point.


DUFFEILD: So, there's no, not really a self-actualized identity. You're not really aware of it.

CONDOLORA: No, I did not. And you know, I still living with roommates. So, you know, I didn't really have any opportunity. I didn't have any clothes at that point because, you know, I didn't have my sisters stash or anything to use. And at that point, I hadn't bought any. There was, I don't know if I mentioned this in my chronology. Shortly after that, there was a little twist of fate that started my cross dressing back up again.

DUFFIELD: What happened?

CONDOLORA: Well, and that was not when I was living in 17th and Monroe, we had moved to another house and had some different roommates. We bought a washer and dryer. We used washer and dryer. So that we could do our laundry at home. Didn't have to go to the laundromat anymore. Cause I had a hook up and we picked it up and brought it home and I opened. Up the washer and there was a pair of panties. Sitting in there. From the former owner and you know, like instinctively I grabbed them out of there and shoved them in my pocket. You know, I think it probably wore those out. I mean that was like that and that was the beginning of cross-dressing again for me.

DUFFIELD: OK. Do you remember? What did they look like?

CONDOLORA: They're green and they're a little bit Lacy, but they weren't. Yeah, they're pretty. Maybe a little sexy.

DUFFIELD: OK. What kind of cut do they have?

CONDOLORA: Ohh, they're just panties. They're probably closer to briefs than anything else.


CONDOLORA: Maybe it's sort of towards. Bikini but not. Not like a song or anything like that. Wasn't instinctively really exciting, but they were panties. I had my own room, so I. Could wear them at night stuff.

DUFFIELD: Did you wear them a lot?

CONDOLORA: Yes! Kept him, kept him hidden, but that was like the beginning. I didn't really have any clothes or and I was still living with guys. I mean, there really wasn't the opportunity, but.

DUFFIELD: Where did you keep them?

CONDOLORA: In between the mattresses.

DUFFIELD: In between your mattresses?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, it choked me up. In between my mattresses and. Figuring nobody was going to look there probably be the first place somebody would look for money.

DUFFIELD: Money, but not panties, right?

CONDOLORA: Not panties.

DUFFIELD: So this is 74, right?

CONDOLORA: This would have been. Probably let’s see, I would say, somewhere around 75-76, because I only lived in the house, I moved in the House on 17th and Monroe.


CONDOLORA: We signed a one-year lease, and we moved out at the end of that, so.

DUFFIELD: So next time we'll begin with the description of kind of your household and your social world. Like, I just want to ask now I wouldn't assume, but are you or were you involved or aware of what the queer community looked like in Denver at that point?

CONDOLORA: In 74? Not really. Yeah, well, I probably was learning, though I was learning about it because. Like I said, it gave me the anonymity to go to some dirty bookstores and movie theaters and stuff like that. I was starting to get like, pornography and it wasn't like I was tied down to anybody where I'd have to explain where I was going at night, or you know take off and do whatever I wanted to do so. And it wasn't worried about somebody seeing me going to kitties or something like that.

DUFFIELD: Is that where you would go?

CONDOLORA: I think that was kitties had a large. Yeah, they were the largest, I think in the area at the time there was like Kitties movie theaters all over and they some of them have bookstores attached. I think there was one on Colfax. There's one on Broadway and some other places, yeah.

DUFFIELD: So just as a point of clarity, what would you do when you would go in?

CONDOLORA: To a movie.

DUFFIELD: I mean like, would you see a movie? Did you get books? Did you get pornography?

CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah, all the above.
DUFFIELD: OK, all the above and then. I suppose was it still a sexual thing at that point.

CONDOLORA: Yes, I would say so.


CONDOLORA: Well, yeah, I'd say so. I mean, especially going to the are you talking about the dressing or?

DUFFIELD: Yeah, I would say the dressing.

CONDOLORA: I didn't really dress when I did those things.


CONDOLORA: I would go to those places just simply for the pornography and for the sexual stimulation of that. It wasn't about dressing and going there.


CONDOLORA: So yeah, the dressing always just was. I never left the house like that.

DUFFIELD: OK. Oh, you never left the house like that.

CONDOLORA: Well, I did one time. And I can't tell you what year it was. Somewhere in 80s, I'd say one time. I did actually get up the courage to leave the house because my wife was, this was after I was married, so it definitely would have been in the 80s and she was she went back to New York for a couple of weeks. I don't remember why I didn't go with her, but I was here and so that gave me like 2 weeks of dressing up. And one night I did get the courage to go out. I was going to go to this bar that I knew where cross-dressers went.

DUFFIELD: What was the name of the bar?

CONDOLORA: I don't remember it was it was not BJ's, though.

DUFFIELD: That's OK. Please continue.

CONDOLORA: It was a different one. I got out of the car. I took like 2 steps in the street, turned back, got back in the car and drove back home. Like I just couldn't do it.

DUFFIELD: Do you remember where it was?

CONDOLORA: It was downtown, I'm thinking maybe it was. On 15th or 16th or something like that. I'm not sure.

DUFFIELD: West of Broadway in the in the central business district, where the high rises are?


DUFFIELD: Was it a gay bar or a cross dresser? It was a gay bar?

CONDOLORA: It was a gay bar. I'm not sure how I even knew about that place. I'm sure I probably saw something about it in one of those magazines that were floating around at the time.

DUFFIELD: There was BJ's, the Triangle, I doubt you would have gone to the Triangle there was, the back door number 1-2 and 3 , the front door, CJ's, David’s and a few other places down that way.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't remember.

DUFFIELD: It might be very important to think about, but we can return to. It next time, so your sense of the queer community in Denver, and I think this is going to be my last question for today is like; what were you learning about? You said you were learning because you were going out to porn theater.

CONDOLORA: You know I. I'm going to go back to the Rocky Mountain oyster was something that you could pick up in a liquor stores or at like those bookstores and stuff, it was just a free magazine and it had advertising in it. It also had personal ads in it. And things like that, those learning things through that. Other than that, I'm not really sure how I was learning about the community.


CONDOLORA: Must have must have been some other. Was westward around at that point? I don't think so.

DUFFIELD 76-77 I think is when it started. There was like the Straight Creek Journal and if you have the other local rags. I Doubt you would have seen crossdressing stuff in like the gay male press or the lesbian female press. There was a magazine around the nation called Transvestia. And the actually from your collection, the essay that the GIC trans women talked about in 1990 spoke about how Virginia Prince came here in the 1960s. Which suggests that there was a more extensive network of crossdressing and transgender people here for trans women in particular. Were you aware of anything like that? At that point in the 70s.

CONDOLORA: I was not. I was not aware of the GIC. I was not aware I, you know, I was. I was aware that there were other cross-dressers. Like I said, there were personal ads in the Rocky Mountain Oyster, and you know, in those days it was like people would. You would write letters to people at post office boxes and they would write back to you. And I did do that. So that was kind of how I communicated with the community back then was through actual snail mail and post office box because it was the most anonymous way I could do it.

DUFFIELD: Do you still have those letters?

CONDOLORA: No, I wouldn't. I probably would not have kept him much after I read him because you know, then I would, you know, I was always worried about getting caught. That's why, you know, this whole living, this life, lie life. Shame thing and all that. That's why it's there. Did all almost all this stuff was hidden from the world. I know it's just like a secret.

DUFFIELD: OK. Let's pause here for the next time, I think. We'll look at. Maybe like how we began to live the lie life. Like what? What those letters look like, how you engaged and then sort of from 1974 to about 1980. When in particular, you began how you met your wife, what life was like here, and then eventually, when is there a moment where you come out to yourself?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't remember exactly what the moment was, though.

DUFFIELD: That’s okay. It was probably more of journey. Do you remember? You said that it began to. Become more difficult for you to d. Well, to start to step out of the persona. When did that happen?

CONDOLORA: It was after I was married, so it would have been in the 80s, I I'd say. You know my transition in my self-awareness was a very, very slow process.

DUFFIELD: I mean it’s a, it's a, it's a lifelong process, you know.

CONDOLORA: It really was, yeah, so. And when I became really. Ohh I don't know. I just know I know what was after I was married that I. When I was dressing. While my wife was, say working, I remember I used to work a four-day week. She worked a five-day week, so I was had the Friday to dress and. That's probably when I started to really get into it a little bit more. I have to figure out what time period that was, but. That's when I used to really like. Just really hate because I knew, you know. OK, it's 2:00 o'clock I. Better you know. Start to go back to the old person and I used to hate it. Even in the and this was past the sexual thing, so it wasn't like I was doing it to get off. I was just doing it to feel good and you know. Taking everything off meant that I wasn't going to feel good anymore. Not that I was going to feel awful or anything like that. You know what I one thing I will say. I never, ever in my life felt suicidal over it. I never once thought that. You know, this is so horrible. I got to kill myself. I never had those feelings. I would always find some other way to cope with how I felt.

DUFFIELD: Well, your art.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I I'd lose myself in my work or shave my legs or do something, you know?

DUFFIELD: Really. I I'm sorry, but that's a that's a good coping strategy.

CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah, they were like each one was like a step up from the one before. You know it was.

DUFFIELD: That’s amazing. Well, we will definitely talk about that next time. Julia, thank you so much for this first interview, I appreciate it.

CONDLORA: Your welcome.

DUFFIELD: All right, I'm going to stop recording real quick and we'll talk for a second.

DUFFIELD: All right. My name is David Duffield. Today is July 11th, 2021. I have the wonderful privilege of interviewing Julia Condolora as part of her oral history series. Julia, thank you so much for agreeing to do the. Second-half of your interview. All right, so last time we left off, we were talking about you living in Denver and moving here from New York. You were working for a electronics company, if I remember correctly, yes.

CONDOLORA: That was my first job.

DUFFIELD: Where did you work after that?

CONDOLORA: I worked construction after that.

DUFFIELD: Ohh, no way that's interesting.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I jumped up. I jumped out. Of the electronics industry, because I just didn't like it. And a a friend of mine was a Carpenter, so. It made it. Easy for me to move into that.

DUFFIELD: What kind of carpentry did you do?

CONDOLORA: Ohh, I've done everything over the years from I started out as just like a helper and did some framing and outside trim and inside trim and then I started doing cabinets. I worked in a cabinet shop and eventually started my own.

DUFFIELD: Which cabinets shop did you work in?

CONDOLORA: The name of it was called Customer Interior Woodworks.

DUFFIELD: And you eventually started your own. When was that?

CONDOLORA: That was in the year 2 I. I started out of my garage while I was going to college. And that was in about 1976, I would say.

DUFFIELD: And that's when you moved into the. House on Asbury Street. Is that right?

CONDOLORA: No, I was already living here. I just moved. I started my business up basically in my garage.

DUFFIELD: Well, that's amazing.

CONDOLORA: It's kind of more like I was thinking of it more like a part time business while I was going to school at night and I'd work during the day at home and and go go to school at. Night and it just managed to be so such a good business for me that I eventually just. Moved into a a warehouse shop. And I kind of scrapped all the thoughts of what I went to college for.

DUFFIELD: You were going to school at night, you said? What were you studying?

CONDOLORA: I was going to the Community College of Denver. I was taking drafting for industry.

DUFFIELD: Ohh very nice. And you had already gotten the degree in electronics, right? Yes. Perfect. So. And in about this period of time, I envision you as a person living in Denver and you had said you had started to go out in the community and dress. Is that correct?

CONDOLORA: I didn't go out.

DUFFIELD: Oh, at home though.

CONDOLORA: Yes, I I did it at home. Yeah, I was. You know, my at that point, my wife didn't know anything about this stuff and. You know, it was just one of those things where I was, I was afraid of getting caught. I mean, I had a lot of fear and shame around this stuff for my whole life, mostly and. There was, though, when I was looking through some stuff between the last interview. In this interview, I think I told you I never went out of the house dressed, oh I don’t know...

DUFFIELD: 2000 or something?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, the 2000s I think. But I I found this picture, it was actually for a Halloween party. I went with a couple of girls and they I didn't have a costume, so they dressed me up. And I want to warn you, I actually had a. Lot of hair back then.

DUFFIELD: (Laughs) Alright, let's see it.

CONDOLORA: And I'm guessing that would have been. There's no date on it. I'm guessing it would have been. Somewhere in the. Mid or late 70s probably. I might have been living in my house at that point. So it's somewhere in the 70s.

DUFFIELD: How did you feel when you were dressed at the Halloween party?

CONDOLORA: But you know, I've had totally forgotten all about that until I found that picture. I loved it because. You know women which would normally not even. Be talking to me. Strange women at at this party. They they had a real fascination with me being dressed up like that. I had it. You can't see it, but I had on heels and pantyhose and everything. And you know they. Would lift up my dress to see if I would wearing panties or not. I was enjoying. It OK, you know, it was fun.

DUFFIELD: Where was the. Where was the Halloween party at?

CONDOLORA: You know what I don't remember? I remember. It was my friend Cheryl's. It was a party that she invited me to go with her to me. And this other girl. And I think it was like a work. Where she worked. I'm not exactly sure I I can't.


CONDOLORA: I don’t remember all the details around that. It was a long time ago.

DUFFIELD: Well, I mean, it was a long time ago. Was that one of the few instances that you got to dress in public?

CONDOLORA: Well, that was it. Was that I mean, I never dressed in public until. Thousands. It would be the 2000s. Before I'd actually. Go out out of my house like that.


CONDOLORA: And I wish I could that hair still because I had a lot of hair then.

DUFFIELD: I mean it's it's it looks like it. Was a big, uh, like a fro almost or something?

CONDOLORA: Yes, I had a fro.

DUFFIELD: So did Bob Ross. So tell me a little bit about. Your business and your and you met your your. Current wife at that point. Is that right?

CONDOLORA: When I had my business, I.

DUFFIELD: Ohh well tell me a little bit about your so personal life. So like you met your your wife when and…

CONDOLORA: I met her in probably like 1979 or ISH maybe. Yeah, probably 1979. I'm gonna guess.

DUFFIELD: And what's her name, Carol. How did you meet?

CONDOLORA: Through a friend, somebody that I moved out here with, went to college with her. And then she moved out here and he introduced us.

DUFFIELD: What was your first impressions of her?

CONDOLORA: I liked her. I wasn't immediately attracted to her, I will say though. She was very attracted to me initially, but I wasn't. Once I got to know her I was attracted to her.


CONDOLORA: Really attracted to her at that point. You know, once I got to know her, I was attracted to her a lot more.

DUFFIELD: OK. What attracted you to her?

CONDOLORA: You know, she was just a lot of fun.

DUFFIELD: OK. Lots of parties, social life.

CONDOLORA: In those days, that's. You know, we party party partied. All the time.

DUFFIELD: What did you guys like to do for fun together?

CONDOLORA: Oh oh, we go to the bars. Drink a lot, smoke pot. Yeah, that was pretty much it. Sometimes we go up. In the mountains go camping.

DUFFIELD: What kind of the usual Colorado stuff?

CONDOLORA: Yeah. And you know we. Had a large circle of friends. Some of whom I met out here, some of whom whom I met, I knew from College in New York and. So she moved out here with another girl. From her hometown and my friend that introduced us was from her hometown and there was just a, you know, a lot. Of people and you can.

DUFFIELD: Lot of connections.

CONDOLORA: Throw a party and. Everybody would all come and it was. It was fun. It was a fun time.

DUFFIELD: So at that time, just to set the context. Trans and transsexual communities, they would call themselves at that time was kind of coming into their own right. There was the creation of the Gender Identity Center in 1980. People like Sonia Smith were coming out publicly. Was there an awareness on your part or a self recognition? Of your differences or your feelings?

CONDOLORA: I would say not. Initially I probably came to the awareness of. A broader community, probably. In the 80s, later in the 80s. Maybe even closer. Yeah, late late 80s would be when realized that there were, you know, other people in Denver and that there is a community out there. Gosh, I was so afraid of. Of being found out. That I avoided it. I wouldn't say that I didn't know it was there. I just avoided it.

DUFFIELD: OK. So last time I think we spoke about how you had developed some correspondences in the late 70s with people in through magazines. Is that correct or through newspapers?

CONDOLORA: Do you remember? Those there was like a personals thing. You know, I can't remember exactly how it worked. I think people would leave a post office box number in there and you could write to that post office box. I had a post office box at the time too. So it was a kind of an anonymous thing.

DUFFIELD: And why the anonymity?

CONDOLORA: Ohh again I didn't want to get caught. I mean, you know, to keep in mind I was very. I was very in the closet and very ashamed and. Yeah, I don't know. I just didn't want to. I didn't want anybody else to know what I was up to.

DUFFIELD: OK. Who are some of the folks you caused?

CONDOLORA: OK, I'm sorry. It was OK to announce me anonymously connect with people, but not.

DUFFIELD: What was the nature of the correspondence?

CONDOLORA: It was around cross dressing. Most of the people that were. Communicating that way, we're communicating about cross dressing and. Things of that nature. I think there were some hookups going on too, but I, you know, I wasn't, of course. I wasn't ready to do anything like hooking up. I mean I'm. I'm sure some people probably that was their why they were writing to me, but I was not interested in that.

DUFFIELD: Do you remember some of the contents of the letters or some of the people you corresponded with?

CONDOLORA: I remember someone named Susan, but other than that, no.

DUFFIELD: What do you remember talking with Susan about? (Julia responds) “Cross-dressing” (David Retorts) OK, so that's not really my lived experience, but I would like to know what would the when you're talking about cross dressing. What would the? What would you say? To each other.

CONDOLORA: I think you know I would always. For me it was just that I wanted to talk to somebody else. That also did it and kind of like maybe picked their brain of you. Know why they did? It were they married or were they single, you know? Did they go out and? You know I. I guess there was a little. Bit of me that would. Want to have met these people you know? But it never really, it never happened.

DUFFIELD: So you never met Susan personally. [(Julia Responds) “No” ] How long did you correspond with them?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't really remember. It was, you know, like. Over a period of. I don't know. Maybe a year.

DUFFIELD: What did you find? Did you learn or find out from her?

CONDOLORA: She was pretty much in the same boat as me. Except I believe her wife knew. I think they were getting a divorce. What else did? I find out from her. I don't know. It's just kind of sharing our experiences with it.

DUFFIELD: As a matter of record, do you remember which magazine or newspaper you might have looked at to find her?

CONDOLORA: The oyster, the oyster. Yeah, the Rocky Mountain oyster. It had a personal section in there.

DUFFIELD: Were there other similar personals ads and like different newspapers?

CONDOLORA: I'm pretty sure westward had them. Not sure when westward started up.

DUFFIELD: About the same time, I think ‘76. Maybe a little earlier. What was your impression of the folks in these different kinds of personal ads?

CONDOLORA: I don't know. I I think that most of them were looking for something. More than what I was looking for, I was. Probably looking for information and camaraderie. Even if it was, must come out come rodery. But yeah, I think a lot of them were looking more for hookups, and that wasn't really. You know, I didn't want to. God, I think I had just gotten it wasn't about to already ruin it with something like that.

DUFFIELD: Yeah, I mean, so it seems like a lot of folks were just so the community discourse was based around the sex, like hooking up in sex, right? [Julia Responds “yes”] Were there other places people like you and Susan might have found each other?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I didn't know of any other places. I'm sure that they were. There, but I just didn't know.

DUFFIELD: So what was your impression of Susan? Where did she live? Or if you remember?

CONDOLORA: She lived in Denver. I remember that. I think she was. Yeah, I just, I don't remember a whole lot of details.

DUFFIELD: Right. So you corresponded for about a year.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I think so. Something like that.

DUFFIELD: (paused for phone call break in the interview) I'm at home.

CONDOLORA: There would be long periods between these correspondences. I liked having the. Post office box though, because I could do that and I could also get. Ohh I could get packages and stuff like that there that didn't have to come to the house.

DUFFIELD: That's actually really safe. What kinds of packages would you get there?

CONDOLORA: Oh, if I bought clothes.

DUFFIELD: Where were you shopping? What were you buying?

CONDOLORA: Ohh shoot I. Don't know the name of the company, but. It would have
been something like Victoria's Secret, but not it wasn't that back then.

DUFFIELD: What was your sense of style? I think I got a sense of this. Last time, but I can't remember.

CONDOLORA: Oh, oh, probably pretty slutty. [both laugh] Well, I didn't have to go out of the house so. And you know, honestly, I would buy stuff and then I'd feel ashamed about it and I'd throw it away, and then I'd buy something else.

DUFFIELD: Did you? I mean, obviously. You wore it at home. Julia. I mean, they could. How often would that be?

CONDOLORA: It varied, you know, sometimes I would do it a lot and sometimes I would go long, long periods of time without doing it all. You know, this would be something like, you know, like, I don't want to do this, but then I would end up doing it and. And I would enjoy it. So I do it a little bit more and do it a little bit. More and then you. Know buy a bunch of makeup and then. Throw it all away.

DUFFIELD: What kinds of makeup would you buy?

CONDOLORA: Lipstick and mascara. Actually, the mascara. I could always use my wife’s. I think it was mostly like lipstick and…

DUFFIELD: What kinds of colors?

CONDOLORA: Doing stuff like that red.

DUFFIELD: When you were when you. Were dressing at home, were there people in mind? Images of people that came to mind or people you wanted to emulate or look like, or maybe have similar fashion too.

CONDOLORA: No, because you know, honestly, it was like, Oh my God, I… I looked so terrible dressed up.

DUFFIELD: You said, why would you say that?

CONDOLORA: Because I did. You saw you saw the picture.

DUFFIELD: OK. Well, I mean it's you're you have a beard. It's like you're Or you had a beard, did you? I mean, there's a difference. You know, sometimes you can dress and and you can feel different ways. But did you always? Feel that way or no.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, pretty much until. Until I really started to really transition. I think I always felt that way. I always felt like, you know this. Doesn't look good. Well, that's they wouldn't go out of the house because be like, Oh my God, this doesn't look good. And the one time I did it. Was like I was so paranoid the whole time I was driving in my car. I was like, there's no way. That anybody doesn't know. I'm just a guy dressed up in girls clothes, you know, and. To this day, I I really I don't have any pictures of myself that I really. You know, it's one of those. Things, but I. And I would honestly never even think that I pass, except that I know I do because I never get misgendered or anything like that.

DUFFIELD: So there's this issue of passing, right? And self acceptance.

CONDOLORA: Yeah. Ohh yeah, I.

DUFFIELD: And tell me a. Little bit more about that. What does that mean?

CONDOLORA: Passing and self acceptance. Well, you know. I think for every trans person goes through this thing where. If they're out in public, especially initially. They feel like everyone is looking at them and everyone notices them and everyone. And my nose nose, they're trans. And it takes some getting over. You know, it takes probably a lot of being out in public. Getting accepted as whatever gender you're wanting to be and getting it accepted enough times that you begin to feel comfortable. And I think once you begin to feel comfortable, you get confidence. So once you get confidence, then the like the maybe rare weird time that. That you do get. Clocked [identified as trans] it doesn't really matter. Anymore, because you just, you're comfortable with yourself. It takes a lot of time. To be comfortable with yourself. At least for me, I probably shouldn't talk about the whole community that way, because I know some other people may have better experiences than I did. But for me it was definitely a very, very long. Time before I really felt comfortable.

DUFFIELD: There's a couple of decades. Yeah, I mean, and I just sympathize. I I still don't feel comfortable in my place, but that's my experience. Tell me a little bit more about. Feeling uncomfortable though. Like, it sounds like that was a big barrier to your journey in acceptance, self actualization, and then eventually like becoming who you feel like you are today. OK.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I would say there was like 3 basic phases in my life. The first phase was kind of like ignorance phase where I didn't really understand what was going on with me. And then there was the phase where I figured out what was going on with me, but there was no, you know, I didn't really envision even though I knew some things were possible. I didn't envision that. For myself, you know, I couldn't look forward in life and seeing me living as a woman, I just couldn't. It was not. Just didn't seem plausible to me and and then the last phase was the transition phase where I learned to accept myself, I learned.

CONDOLORA: That it was possible. I just had to do it.

DUFFIELD: So when did that change from the second phase to the last phase from the the the thinking, you know things to the thinking that I can be?

CONDOLORA: That's probably about only about 10 years ago.

DUFFIELD: About 2011.

CONDOLORA: 2010, 2011 is when I. Thinking that I could transition, I originally started up taking all these biological or not bio biological. What's the word? Organic things we're supposed to help you transition. That didn't really work, but. They did get me. It it changed my mind, so if nothing else, it probably didn't change my body any. But that's where I started to really say. OK, this is something that I. I'm going to do could do and I'm going to do.

DUFFIELD: OK. Could do and and I'm going to and. You recently completed transition. Well, I suppose…

CONDOLORA: I don't know. I mean, to me, it's like what, when do you really complete transition? You know, I mean. And when does it really start? So my my basic thing in my head and it's I'm sure it varies for everybody, but. I really think my transition didn't start until. I changed my name. And even though I've been in hormones for many years at that point, and I was living part time at work and part time at home, at that point, you know, when I changed my name, I also came out full time everywhere at work and the whole works. And to me, that was the beginning because, you know, you can make some changes to your body and you can do a lot of different things. But if you're not presenting yourself to the world, then you're not really beginning your transition you. Because I could still always fall back on on my guy-ness. At that point, you know and maleness. It wasn't until OK now I have a different name and. Everybody's going to call me this name and I'm going to present myself as a woman to everyone so that to me, was the beginning of my transition.

DUFFIELD: And I apologize, that is such a cisgender growth thing to say. When did you complete your transition? Life is full of moments of transition. What I'm referring to more is just kind of like. In the context of like your. That period of time. From the 70s to the 80s, did you? That was the second phase then that. Was when you you. Might have become aware of things or were you were you coming into like? From the phase of ignorance into the phase of possibility.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, that would no. Well, that was. Yeah, that would be the. From the phase of ignorance to the phase of knowledge, I guess.

DUFFIELD: So at that time, did you? In the 70s and early 80s, were you aware that transition was possible and that gender fluid people existed and?

CONDOLORA: I mean, I think I probably was aware of that. Even before I moved to Colorado, probably in the early 70s, because, you know, Christine Jorgensen was. Sort of famous, I guess. I mean, it wasn't. Like a hidden fact. But there were. You know, I didn't know any other people other than her. I think somewhere in the 90s it probably wasn't until the 90s was remember Phil Donahue used to have. Transgender people on the show that you would interview. Don't think it was in the 70s or 80s. I think it was later my yeah. Yeah, I I can't place that in historical terms because I can't remember exactly when, but. You might hear… I mean, I was aware that. Definitely in the 80s. OK, I'm sure I knew it. Even in the 70s in the late 70s. But, you know, I didn't I I don't really think I thought of myself as that kind of person at that point.

DUFFIELD: Kind of like that was for other people, not necessarily for you. Is that something that Susan and you talked about or no?

CONDOLORA: No. You know, our actions were strictly around cross dressing and
Wear the clothes. I mean all that kind of stuff, you know, OK.

DUFFIELD: And then you and your. That's an interesting question because that may be something that we come up with later is like, when did you begin to be aware of possibilities like you knew transition existed, you knew a larger community existed in the 70s and certainly in the 80s, is that correct?

DUFFIELD: And your sense of that community in Denver may have been limited because you. Didn't have access. To or maybe self actualization within that community.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I would say self actualization would be part of it and. A fear, I mean it was a fear based thing. I mean, I was afraid to look into that kind of stuff too hard because. I just you know. I was too afraid of. You know my wife
finding out. Gosh, somebody, somebody else finding out, I don't know.


CONDOLORA: So being aware, I mean I'm I'm sure. Sure, a lot of people go through that early on or even when they're discovering that they're gay. It's just like, you know that there's gay people in the world, but they may not want to go out there. They may be afraid of. Of finding out, I don't know. I mean, I may. I'm just spitballing here. I don't really know.

DUFFIELD: I mean, that's OK. That's authentic voice that speaks to a person's point of view within an on the periphery of community at certain times. But I'm curious what was the sense if you could place it in that time in Denver for crossdressers, for transsexual, for transgender people?

CONDOLORA: I'm I'm not sure of the question.

DUFFIELD: What was like the sense of what it was like to be a transgender person in Denver in the late 70s and early 80s?

CONDOLORA: I don't know. I mean, I really have no idea because. I wouldn't go out in, in. So I'm sure that there are a lot of other people that were. Very fearful of that at the time too. It wasn't, you know, it wasn't really an accepting saying like it is today where, you know, if you just. See somebody walking down Colfax and you know that they're. Today it would be like, you know, ohh there's another trans person, you know? I mean, it's not safe for some people because there's still those crazies out there.


CONDOLORA: I I I'd have to think it was very. A scary time. I think people who did it way more in private than they do today.

DUFFIELD: Do you remember the essays that you gave up to the Denver Public Library from the GHC Collection? Do you remember reading about those and? Do you remember what they said?

CONDOLORA: So I remember. One of them was I forgot her name. Or other cook? Maybe Barbara Cook, huh? Yeah, and how they used to meet at the Furrs cafeteria, and they went out, I mean. So it it. Certainly wasn't impossible, but they mostly met. And dressed in each other's houses. They didn't really go out in public too much, I don't think.

DUFFIELD: Right. Did you when you were reading that, how did you feel? What did you see? Of yourself in it? Possibly.

CONDOLORA: Oh my God. You know the first thing that I I as I was reading that the first thing I thought was. Why in the world didn't I know about this? And why in the world wasn't I like? One of these people. You know, why was I? Because you know, why was I so afraid of of all this, why do I have so much shame around all this?

DUFFIELD: It's like it's like lost time in a way, right?

CONDOLORA: Absolutely lost time, yeah.

DUFFIELD: And the Gender Identity Center was just forming when you were just beginning your own self realization. Yeah, I don't know if you were aware of it. I don't think we've talked. I don't think you were.

CONDOLORA: Of the Gender identity center? No, no, no, I wasn't even aware of them until. Like 2000. I don't know when I first started going there like 2013 or 14.

DUFFIELD: I mean, it's been. It was around for a long time, almost 40 years, you know. But it's like in that period of time I think you mentioned in our last interview spaces that people. Could go a bar or something downtown, right?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I remember reading about. I mean, I don't know if that was from westward or the oyster or. I think there were some other little rags that were around where you could just pick them. Up at the. You know at the liquor store or? Those dirty bookstore places. But I I was aware there was BJ's Carousel. I I remembered I don't know how many times I drove by that place wanting to like pulling a parking lot but not doing. And there was also another place downtown that. I was going to go to one time.


CONDOLORA: Actually got dressed up and drove down there because my wife was in New York.

DUFFIELD: What was the? What was different about BJ's Carousel or this other place? Why would it be accept? Why would why would like crossdressing and and gender difference be accepted? Why would trans people be accepted in those places and not in others?

CONDOLORA: I don't know, but I know that they that people went there. I know that BJ's had regular drag shows. I wish I could remember the name of the other place that I intended to go to that but.

DUFFIELD: You probably will tomorrow, but we'll get to that. Trust my memory on that one. I'm just curious because I when I've interviewed other trans people in Denver, trans women in particular, they said that the drag shows were one of the few spaces they could present their authentic selves so they could go in dress. No one would care because it's a drag show, right? You kind of expect to see gender illusion, and it was a safe space and that's. Kind of historically true for a long period of time. Was also that your sense of of why folks would go to BJ's? Kind of drag shows where safe spaces, (Julia) yes. And why was that?

CONDOLORA: Well, because there are already people getting dressed up and you know on stage I realize that's more performance than anything else, but. You know that was. I mean, you just. I don't know. I mean, it's just an acceptable an accepted thing in that place.

DUFFIELD: I mean, I get. That it's it's. When I spoke with Suzanne Hanser about her journey, she mentioned growing up in Arvada like she would want to go to those spaces because she realized she could feel different. And this was later, I think when she got involved with the. Court in the 80s or 90s, but. She mentions that like that was one of the few spaces she could go and present herself, and she felt safe there. Her wife knew at the time, I believe, and it was just sort of an acceptable place to be Ok. So let's return back to your your personal life. So in the 70s and 80s, what happens to you? Where are you? Going you will you get married in 1982, is that right? OK, what happens next?

CONDOLORA: Well, I don't know that was a long period of. Trying to find my way in life, you know. You know, before that I was only responsible for myself and. You know, I didn't have another person that. I cared about really. You know, that was totally different and. You know, everything was about trying. To build my life. Getting good jobs and trying to make money and supporting my wife and her career. You know all the things that. That you do when you're married.

DUFFIELD: Supporting and caring for each other. What does your wife do?

CONDOLORA: She's a chef.

DUFFIELD: Oh, no way. What does she cook?

CONDOLORA: Well, currently she's working at a homeless shelter.

DUFFIELD: Ohh wow, that's amazing.

CONDOLORA: Cooking at a homeless shelter, feeding homeless people.

DUFFIELD: That's good work.

CONDOLORA: But she's done. A lot of different she's worked in a lot of different restaurants over the years.

DUFFIELD: I come from that world, so. It's interesting to me that so you you got married in 1982 and then? Your side business starts to take off, is that right?

CONDOLORA: Ohh, let's see. No 1982. Now, in 1982, I was kind of still working for other people. Still finding my way in the construction world. Somewhere in the mid 80s, that's when I. Started working more as. I'm gonna say vendor, but that's not the right word. A contractor, basically. You know I. Worked independent of of the people, but you know, I still work for the same people all the time. It was just. Independent contractor I think is what they.

DUFFIELD: OK. And so were you still buying clothes at this point and kind of throwing them away? How often would that be?

CONDOLORA: You know I. Go through periods. There would be periods of time. That I didn't do it at all, and periods of time that I did it a lot and. I don't know. I don't know what. What would propel me? Usually I think what would propel me into getting rid of all my stuff? What's the shame? Would overwhelm me and I just say, you know what? This gotta stop and I'm not gonna do this anymore. That's the end of that. And then something would. Possess me to like. Buy something or. Try something on that. My wife phoned or something like that, you know. And then it. Would ramp back up again. It was a. A vicious cycle, it really was.

DUFFIELD: So this went on for years this cycle. So it would sort of be. Do you remember what would be the trigger? What would be like the thing that would cause you to want to buy or? To to wear or to dress.

CONDOLORA: Not really, no.

DUFFIELD: And then at home, when you were alone or. Where would you keep your stuff safe?

CONDOLORA: But the garage was always a safe spot for my stuff.

DUFFIELD: How did you hide it there?

CONDOLORA: I had some cabinets that I made out there. It was pretty easy to hide stuff.

DUFFIELD: Did you lock them or were you worried? About your wife finding them.

CONDOLORA: No, no, no. My wife was never very. Snoopy wasn't snoopy at all.

DUFFIELD: So you made cabinets and you kind of hid the stuff in the cabinets. I mean, that's a great metaphor for for life in a way, because cabinetry and dress are are parts of are two big symbols of your life at that point. Were you dressing in the garage?

CONDOLORA: I would bring the stuff in the House and.

DUFFIELD: And when you were alone or had. Some some personal time, right?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

DUFFIELD: Was that frequent or infrequent?

CONDOLORA: It differed. There was periods of time where our schedules didn't mess up. You know, I was. I was like, on 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday person or 88 till six. Probably more like, truthfully. But my wife will have times have to work on weekend because she work in a restaurant. It's just those schedules are not always just. Sometimes she worked at nights. There was a period of time where she was working at Nice. There was a period where she. Was a chef at a sorority house, and so she would have the whole summer off. And worked pretty regular hours during the week. So it just I was very so there was a period of time where I was working four days a week, so I'd always have that Friday. And she was working on Fridays. So it just it just varied, but there was. And maybe that was the impetus towards starting up again was that I had a little more time where I could. Be alone and not have to worry about. Anybody coming home and that kind of thing? Yeah, that might have been the the big thing, to be honest with you. More to think about it.

DUFFIELD: So the personal time. The opportunity to have personal time to have the ritual, to have the dress. Did you have? I mean, I assume there was. A ritual with everything. But like, did you have a particular way you did something or a particular kind of thing you like to wear?

CONDOLORA: No, not really.

DUFFIELD: OK. And did you have a limited number of items or? A lot of items.

CONDOLORA: Limited number, yeah.

DUFFIELD: Kind of the same, same clothes and same makeup.

CONDOLORA: It's hard to build wardrobe. When you keep throwing things away.

DUFFIELD: Well, I mean, you know it's it's some someone may have gotten use out of that after you, but how did you feel when you were using it? When you were dressing at that time in the free time. So let's imagine a scenario. Your wife is out at work. You've come home from a long day. You have four or five hours in an evening. You know you have that time.

CONDOLORA: Just comfortable. Later on early on. When I first started cross dressing, it was. More of a a sexual nature. You know, I got sexual excitement from it. Right. I can't tell you exactly at what point I. That kind of just disappeared and it became more like a. This feels right. It feels nice. Thing and there was really no more excitement to it at all. Didn't have any of that.

DUFFIELD: I think you mentioned in our last interview that it was sort of after you came to Colorado that the sexualization faded, especially with like getting married and that sort of thing and the comfort level just sort of. Rose with it.

CONDOLORA: It might have lasted a little bit longer than that, but yeah, somewhere in that area. Maybe, maybe or something.

DUFFIELD: As time went on in the 80s and you eventually started your own business to expedite the personal narrative a little bit to give it some exposition from like 1982 to 1988, you moved into your house on Asbury Street, right?

CONDOLORA: Moved in my house in 1978.

DUFFIELD: 8 excuse me, yeah. And you started your own business and you were working as a helper, then a contractor. Who were some of the companies you were working for beyond the personal beyond that personal time? What was life outside of that personal time like?

CONDOLORA: I'm I'm I'm not exactly sure who what you your question is.

DUFFIELD: So like what was the day day in the life of Julia Candelora? Like between 1982 and 1988?

CONDOLORA: 1982 and 1988 OK that period. I was working for. Other people, I wasn't really an independent contractor. I would say about 87. I remember being a contractor. No, I'm gonna take that back. About 87, I think that's. Broncos went to the Super Bowl. So that's trying to put everything in perspective because it's hard figuring out all these dates. Looking back, I mean, I I spent a lot more time thinking about it since our last. Conversation and trying to pin it to certain things, and that was definitely something I could pin it to so. Before that, like in 82 say to 84, I was always working for other people where I would just, you know, it was like a regular job construction people, contractors. But I was getting a paycheck. They took out taxes, they took out my Social Security, all that kind of stuff. And then I think. Probably around 86, I'm gonna say. Is when I started working as an independent contractor and I was doing interior trimming houses. I would have been doing that probably through. I'm going to say the early 1990s.

DUFFIELD: And had life gone on for you and your wife in a similar manner, friends going camping? Were there any exceptional trips or any adventures you had in that time?

CONDOLORA: Well, let's see, I know somewhere. Around that time, we took our second honeymoon to California. So and it went on a few different trips over the years. The the thing with the friends and everything kind of. Kind of broke up in. The mid 80s, I would say. We didn't like hang out with. People, the party scene and kind of diminished.

DUFFIELD: So tell me a little bit about like, what was the relationship like with your wife at? That point. How are you feeling what was going on?

CONDOLORA: Well, other than all this. Shame that I had around what I was doing, you know? I mean, that was a real problem for me. But I think everything was, you know, we were pretty happy. I think our. Relationship was good. You know, I always had this hidden secret that I could never tell her, which was kind of an awful thing for me at times. I wrote a long letter to her that I stuck with all my. Things my clothes and stuff in case someday I died and she'd eventually find all that stuff that I could just explain exactly what was going on with me, so she wouldn't wonder what is all of. This you know.

DUFFIELD: What was in the letter? What did it say?

CONDOLORA: It just explained it, you know. That I like to dress. And that I've been doing it. It at some point I rewrote it when I realized what being transgender was. That gave some further explanation to it.

DUFFIELD: When did you rewrite the letter?

CONDOLORA: I don't remember.

DUFFIELD: When you rewrote it, what did you say?

CONDOLORA: You know basically. The same things as before just say explained what you know what I had learned about people like me.

DUFFIELD: OK. If you had to imagine her finding it, how do you think she might have reacted?

CONDOLORA: Well, I always thought you would, like, be appalled. That she'd be mad. That she would hate me. But I also assumed I she wouldn't find it until I was dead, so it wouldn't be a problem. But you know, I always assumed all those things I I assumed that she would hate me.

DUFFIELD: So she would hate you. And yet, and we'll come to that, that conversation, it's probably next time, but it turns out that there was a process probably to go through in grief and hate, or I, I guess, change when you came out to her. So that turned out not to be. True at all.

CONDOLORA: No, not no, not at all.

DUFFIELD: Were you surprised?

CONDOLORA: Again, it was kind of. Like the whole thing about discovering the the GIC was around all those years, it was like. Maybe I could have done this a long time ago, you know, but. You know, things might have been different. If I had done it when I was in my. You know, right after we got married or something like that, it might have been a different conversation back then. People thought differently back then, you know?

DUFFIELD: Oh yeah, totally.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I'm not so sure that she wouldn't have worked through it. But you know, I just, it's hard to say. You know, who knows?

DUFFIELD: I mean, it's a counterfactual history thing, but it's always an interesting what if question, you know, you think something's going to go on for such a long time. But that's very interesting to me that you kept that letter and as an insurance policy, so to speak, in that place for that time. Excuse me for a second. Sorry, I may have to pause here in just. A second but. I'm curious like. As a physical symbol, that letter in my mind, I would interpret that as a narrative that you were telling yourself over a period of time. You know, I.

CONDOLORA: It was a confession. It was a Mia Copa.

DUFFIELD: It was a mea culpa, and that that's associated with the guilt, and the shame and the the guilt and the shame. Pause for a moment. And because I have to go do. The thing with the cat but. The guilt and the shame, you know, that's a big thing to get into and to describe. How does that feel? Is that OK? To talk about. OK, I'm going to pause real quick and. I'll be right back. [Pause] OK.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I think a lot of the, the you know, the fear and the and the shame goes back to when I was a very young child because I know I used to dress back then I I don't have very many memories of that time but. Well, I'm guessing that since I always did it in secret and in private that. Either I was always told it was wrong. Perhaps they got caught and got in trouble for it, or something that made me never want to share that. Secret with anybody. So you know, I basically just kept that to myself for, you know, my whole life because. You know it. My feeling was that it was a) I was doing something that was wrong and B) if I got caught doing it, it would change how people thought of me. And how they would react was, you know, everything you. All that stuff would go, you know. Would be affected, you know, certainly with my wife, I my concern was always that she. Would leave me. Would be the end of our marriage. Then there's family and there's a whole, you know, my whole family gonna, like, hate me. You know, it's like endless.

DUFFIELD: Did it get more or did it get… Was there more shame at times or more guilt or less?

CONDOLORA: You know I don't. Know that it always varied much. You know first. Yeah, I don't know that I was very much.

DUFFIELD: It seems like it was in those cycles that you talked about where you would feel guilty after a certain amount of time of dressing and then throw it all away, swear it off, and then you would come back to it again and then did the shame and guilt get worse over time?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I think it did get worse. You know, the whole kind of thing about living your life as a lie is. A little bit of a lie. Maybe is a smaller lie when it it's only a few years and every year it gets to be a longer, a bigger lie, you know. You know, at what point? Yeah, I mean, at what point can it not? Be getting worse if you're feeling the same thing over time and time and time.

DUFFIELD: I mean that would become debilitating after a while.

CONDOLORA: You know, I never got to that point I don't. Think I just found ways to cope with it and to put it aside. You know, work was a. It was a good coping thing for me because it took my mind off everything.

DUFFIELD: Were there other ways that you cope?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, dressing was a coping skill. I mean, I guess so.

DUFFIELD: Did you ever seek out? Professional help like a psychologist or a therapist.

CONDOLORA: You would think that I would have. You know, obviously when I was a young kid. I didn't know anybody that went to therapy that wasn't like on the verge of committing suicide or something, you know, I mean, it was really a very rare thing where. Now it seems like a lot of people go to therapy just to feel better about themselves or whatever. You know, it's a lot more common thing and it's a lot, you know, therapy seemed like it was like a big deal to me when I was young. But I never did. In fact, I never even saw anybody about my gender-dysphoria. As far as therapy, the only just therapists I've seen in psychologists and stuff like that was so
I could get my letters [to medically transition].

DUFFIELD: And that happened later. That was much later than. The 1980s.

CONDOLORA: No, that was like.

DUFFIELD: Yeah, 2010 or something so. So there will there's the cycle of you dressing. Feeling shaming. Guilt. And then excision right of of you saying no more and then eventually you saying to yourself, OK, well I'm going to do it again. And then maybe it was. For large chunks of time, maybe it was weeks or months at a time. And then frequency would be every day. You were dressing?

CONDOLORA: No. Again, it would always probably be around. Availability of being able to do it. So it would probably be more like. If the schedule is worked out once a week or you know sometimes even longer periods in between.

DUFFIELD: Sometimes longer periods in time, and so you had coping mechanisms like woodworking and work and and were you working a lot?

CONDOLORA: Later on. Yeah, not so much in that. So we're not going into the 2000s yet, right?

DUFFIELD: But you feel free.

CONDOLORA: Well, that that's when I really started, like burying myself in work all the time. Where I work every day, basically and.

DUFFIELD: And that working every day that overworking was a way to cope with the constant... What am I missing here? The dread or the fear or the OR the the the? I'm I'm struggling for a word here.

CONDOLORA: It just took my mind off of. It you know, I was just like well, because when I was working, I would have to be thinking about what I was doing.

DUFFIELD: And you wouldn't be fixated on preventing yourself from thinking. About it. Oh, wow, yeah. I forget what that's called, but. So when we're looking in the 80s and the 90s, then is we're going to get to in the next few minutes. It seems like. We've established a pretty good understanding of. What you were doing and what was going on in life and let's externalize that a little bit, let's look at the world outside of the internal. Let's look at like. How was your relationship with your family and your friends and when did your business start to take off so?

CONDOLORA: So my relationship with everybody was always pretty good. You know my family well. You know, like my mother and father lived in New York. Most of my family lived in New York, my brother. I just had my sister out here, so. I mean, we had a good relationship, but it was long distance. So you know, it was like talking on the phone every once in a while. It was kind of our relationship. My brother and I never been very close. So, you know, we were more like, talk to each other on our birthdays and at Christmas. And that was about it. My sister lived out here, though, and you know I always, always had a good relationship with her. My friends, you know, friends come and they go, you know, you get. I have a few friends that I've. I have one friend that I've known since third the third grade, you know, and other friends that I've had since that I met. Right when I first moved out here that I still have and see all the time other friends, we kind of make friends with somebody for a while because you work together and you, you know, you fail around a little bit and then they. You know, you get a new job or they get a new job and you don't really see. You know how that goes, right? But you know, I always had. Fairly good relationships with people.

DUFFIELD: And in terms of like exploring, were you still corresponding with people?

CONDOLORA: Ohh you mean by the the letters? No, no, that was a pretty short lived time. You know, that was the time before the Internet or?

DUFFIELD: So why did that stop?

CONDOLORA: Why did his son? I don't know I. It seemed kind of pointless after a while. And I don't know that it wasn't like. You know, sometimes you send a out of correspondence and you never. Get a reply.

DUFFIELD: But you necessarily weren't finding what you needed. If you had to name what that thing is, that thing that you needed from those. Correspondences. What would it be?

CONDOLORA: Somebody, somebody else to to? And again, it's like the. The GIC was there that time.

DUFFIELD: Well, I mean. It's it's, it's again. It's a what if right? It's it's at the same time you can. Only go forward. But I mean the.

CONDOLORA: But you know, let me just say this though, even if I knew that the GIC was there, I would have been way too. Afraid to go down there.

DUFFIELD: You know, it seems like that fear was very common. I mean, because everyone has, people have many things to lose, and it was a different time, as you said, people thought differently, right? If people were going to think differently, do you think that fear would be equally widespread at that time in the in the Seventies, 80s and 90s?

CONDOLORA: Not exactly sure what you're asking me.

DUFFIELD: So do you think other people would have felt the same? Other transgender people would have felt the same, that you felt.

CONDOLORA: Ohh I would think so yeah.

DUFFIELD: It's speculative, but you know.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, you know, some people are just braver than others, I guess, and or maybe some people have less to lose.

DUFFIELD: Maybe some people have just different opportunities. You know, I mean that can be that's probably as as as best an explanation as I can come up with different opportunity. And when you're looking back at that time and you're looking around at representations of trans people, you mentioned Phil Donahue, but were there other places that you saw transgender people? Because I mean to harken back to a question which we've done. Before which is. What was your view of transgender people at a time you mentioned that person in the mall in New York and them being made fun of? What was your view of transgender people in the 80s and the 90s when you're very much aware that you're dressing? So I bet, I guess that begs the question, would you have considered yourself a crossdresser or a transsexual transgender person at that point and what was the view of that? Category and people around you.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I I consider myself to be a cross dresser.


CONDOLORA: I didn't know what else to call myself, so that's. That's the term that seemed to fit me the best. I I didn't like the word transvestite because. That had too many sexual connotations. You know, transsexual was like kind of a foreign idea to me. I didn't really. See that my life would ever go in that direction.

DUFFIELD: So this is moving from the kind of ignorance phase into the knowledge phase again. So how did you come by that knowledge?

CONDOLORA: The the word cross dresser.

DUFFIELD: Well, like, how are you becoming aware of of cross dressing and people around you? I mean I think you mentioned the theaters and and other places, but this is kind of a critical thing like how are you becoming aware of? That experience in the world, does that make sense?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I'm not really sure. I'm not really sure how I...

DUFFIELD: Well, so for instance.

CONDOLORA: The internet… I'm not sure how I had any knowledge of anything. You know, I had this weird thing that I did, you know? And you know, I come to find out that there were other people that did it, but I'm not sure exactly. You know, was there articles in the paper? I don't think so.

DUFFIELD: And that weird thing you you thought you said you did that. That's referring to your dressing, right? So you have this thing that you do and you're not aware of any other people that were doing it, but if you needed to, where would you go? Would you go back to the articles in the oyster or the correspondence?

CONDOLORA: I guess so. I guess you know, there's also things like the penthouse forum. There might have been some people that wrote in about that in the penthouse forum.

DUFFIELD: I mean, there's definitely this overtone of sexuality associated with. Transness at that time, right? (Julia reponds “yeah”) (Duffield) So take me back. To like the representations of trans people in the community. Were you aware of any that come to mind at that point? OK. And when you begin to after the 1980s, look at life, what happens next?

CONDOLORA: How far past the 80s?

DUFFIELD: Well let’s go all the way through the 90s.

CONDOLORA: Through the 90s? Well, that's when. That's when the Internet started, right? I mean, that's when it really became a thing. And the age of information was out there. And I think that's where I learned. All through the 90s I learned everything. That I needed to know. Well, there were. You you could do searches for one thing and find out about things. There was message boards where people would post. There was AOL chat, where you could chat with other people anonymously. There is this website called Susan's Place. Where I learned. A whole ton about. I think that's maybe where I really I'm not sure where. When I learned the word transgender, but I certainly. Came to accept myself as transgender in the late 90s, certainly.

DUFFIELD: Well, when let's begin in the 90s. Then so when did? You get the Internet at home or. How could you access it? Because it was invented in 1994, right? It was invented in 1994 and. Became open to the public.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, well, I remember having a. I'm not exactly sure when they started, but somewhere around 90s, right?

DUFFIELD: Right, probably about 95.

CONDOLORA: I had that awful. Dialogue and then basically could only. Get on there late at night. It was about the only time that I could tie up our phone line. But they did have chat rooms on there, and that's chat rooms. It's they used to have.

DUFFIELD: Where would you go? Do you remember your first Time going to a chat room?

CONDOLORA: I don't remember the first time, no, but I. That was a little bit of. An obsession for a while.

DUFFIELD: Well, tell me more about that. Do you mean obsession?

CONDOLORA: Well, because it was so anonymous, you could go in there. You could even be a female if you wanted to, you know, and chat with people. So I you know. I would just go in there and chat. That was a very slow typist, so it was really, really rather annoying, I think, to the people I was chatting with and. And of course, I had that dialogue thing. But that was, you know, it was interesting. It was fun. It got me to communicate with other people. I don't remember if they had like a crossdresser chat room or not, but. I wish I had a better memory.

DUFFIELD: So do you remember? Who were some of The folks you talked with?

CONDOLORA: No, it was always anonymous. I think there were, you know, people had like little screen. You know just. Like Facebook, people had screen names sometimes and.

DUFFIELD: Do you remember what you would talk about?

CONDOLORA: Sometimes about sex, sometimes about. I think that was mostly it.

DUFFIELD: Sometimes about sex, so expand. That for me a little bit. What does that? Mean what would you if it's appropriate? I don't know. I'm asking, but like, is it appropriate to ask sort of like what was that talk about?

CONDOLORA: Well, you know, sometimes a lot of people would go on there just to talk about, hey, let's. What do you like? What are you wearing? So weird questions, right? Right. And they would just want to talk, you know about. What are you doing? This is what I'm doing and.

DUFFIELD: So they want to talk about sexual fantasies. The old term for that was cybering or something like that, or the the connection of people through sexualized chat, right? OK. And was that the nature of your chats?

CONDOLORA: I I had a few like that, yeah.

DUFFIELD: Was it similar or different from you and Susan? From the correspondence you had with her. Totally different, yeah.

CONDOLORA: Well, you know, I don't know. It was just kind of sleazy to me some of that. It wasn't really. Informational for me. Doesn't camaraderie cause this? Like I would never ever. I don't know who the person was on the other end of it, they could. Have been next door, they. Could have been, you know, and. Iowa or New York, or Florida? You know, sometimes people would say where they're from, but.

DUFFIELD: So you said a few minutes ago that the thing you were looking for in the in the letters in the newspapers was camaraderie. Is that correct? That's a large thing, right? So your community. Did you find that same need fulfilled in? The in the chat rooms, no.

CONDOLORA: No, not at all.

DUFFIELD: OK. And so, but this chat, sort of. Became A and that. Was, so I guess the reason why is because, well, why was that? Was it the sexualized nature of the of the content?

CONDOLORA: I think so, yeah.

DUFFIELD: Wasn't really about. It was about sex, not about identity necessarily.


CONDOLORA: Right. I I would say it wasn't very sophisticated, especially were you know and and just going by memory because I I. It doesn't seem like chat rooms are even around that long, but I don't think there were any. Like trans or cross dressing chat rooms or. There might have been, but not, to my recollection. I think it was more like. Men looking for women, women looking for men, women looking for women. You know that, that kind of thing.


CONDOLORA: Am I right or do you remember anything about those?

DUFFIELD: I mean, I remember going as a teenager to those places looking for gay men and exploring things and engaging in chat with people, but it was a different context from my position. It was definitely like the Internet had that. Sexualized feeling for every sort of conversation. You know, there was definitely like that over sexual. I mean, 70% of the of the Internet by 1997 was porn. It was like it was. It was fulfilling, like one of the basest needs of Maslow's hierarchy, and it wasn't. And that's why people feared it so much, right? They wanted to censor. But from a transgender perspective, I remember you saying a few minutes. Ago you found a place. Called Susan's place, right. And message boards. Do you remember going on those and finding what you needed in terms of camaraderie, in terms of identity?

CONDOLORA: Yes, even though these. People were from like, all over the world. I think I think Susans place, I think I think Susan was somebody. From Great Britain. Not positive of that, but I'm pretty sure and but there's people from all over the world. And they had. Ohh don't remember. Transmen at first they did later, and they definitely had trans women and it. Was all different. Categories they and they definitely had a cross dressing category. People that just like to cross dressed and they had people that were in other category where people would be talking about transition and surgeries and hormones and different things. And that was like kind of the eye opener for me because. I could get some real information and there were people that would. It was anonymous, obviously. There were people that were on there pretty regularly, you know, so you could actually like. Recognize the name and recognize what that person, what area you know where they were in their life, or whether or not they're transitioning.

DUFFIELD: Is that where you? Or had already transitioned? So this is exceptional and important because it sounds like this is the first time you become aware of a much larger world, right? (“yes” Julia responds) So this is where the knowledge phase sort of gets big. So how often were you going online and looking at Susan's place in the message boards in, say, the late 90s and early 2000s?

CONDOLORA: Probably like 5 times a week.

DUFFIELD: So almost every day. OK. And did your sense of sharing.

CONDOLORA: Sometimes you'd be for, sometimes it'd be. For a long. Period of time. Sometimes it'd be just for a few minutes. You know, I kind of look and see there was, like, almost like people that I almost followed kind of thing. Not really but. I like to read certain people's posts a lot. Other people were kind of flaky.

DUFFIELD: Well, like who would you follow?

CONDOLORA: Ohh I don't remember their screen names. I do remember there was a woman from Australia that I really liked.

DUFFIELD: What did she say?

CONDOLORA: We just had really good advice for people you know, and she was like. A good ways through transition and they come out at work and come out at home. She just relayed her experiences about everything and. You know, some people who write better than others too, you know, obviously. I don't remember her screen name though. Go back on that. And start a new profile because. I have valuable things maybe that to impart.

DUFFIELD: Well, then that's a new phase. It's now ignorance knowledge. And I guess what did you call the the third phase, the actualization and now this becomes the maybe shepherding phase?

CONDOLORA: Maybe you know, I mean it. Wasn't long before I. Started going to GIC that I. Thought you know. I I should be doing something more than just hanging out here.

DUFFIELD: We'll we'll get to that in. A little bit, but this is. Probably a good point to begin. To end this interview. Which is like. OK, so you've discovered. The Internet and it's big and you've discovered places like Susan's place and you're following this particular woman from. She was a trans woman, I assume. OK. And so like she would give people advice on how to transition and she would give them different kinds of. Pieces of information were there others like that, or a lot of them, or few of them?

CONDOLORA: There were a lot of them.

DUFFIELD: And so generally, what were some of The big topics?

CONDOLORA: Well, hormones was a big topic, except Susan did not allow anybody to talk about any particulars. And in other words, like how how much of anything that you might be taking or to give any dosages?


CONDOLORA: You know, she she forbad that so that would never get on there. But people talked a lot about the effects of hormones and. You know what they were? Taking but just now how much of it? There is some talk about so. I don't know. You know, before we. Get together next time, maybe I'll look in there and see, like, some of the different. For instance, they have now, but they did have. I know they did have boards that were strictly cross dressing, so. You could go on. There and people would talk about cross dressing and. A lot of times would. Be people that were like for the first time. Saying, you know, I like to. Do this we're, you know. Where do I buy clothes or? What kind of pickup? Should I be wearing and all that kind of thing? A big thing was always the beard. You know how. Do you cover my beard and there? Definitely a way to do that.

DUFFIELD: What was the I mean, electrolysis but.

CONDOLORA: Ohh no, I mean if you if you just have that like blue face from cause you shaved, but you can still see the. The 5:00 o'clock shadow, I think is. What they call it, right? Right. And there's a a Mac, a makeup technique. To get rid of that. By using orange or red on your face first before you put in makeup and it cuts the blue color or the black color. Or whatever anyway. I don't know that much about it. I just read about it a lot though.

DUFFIELD: Tell me more what did. What were some other tips and tricks and some other kind of essential things that you learned?

CONDOLORA: Well, you know and and and I never did any of that stuff, but.

DUFFIELD: You were curious about it though.

CONDOLORA: Things about how to put on makeup and you know. People will wonder. Stuff like that and how you can. Use contouring to. Make you look like you have high cheekbones. I'm sure drag Queens could tell you all of this stuff than I could.

DUFFIELD: So the big push in this last section is to figure out, OK, you didn't find camaraderie in the first section with Susan or a little bit. Maybe with Susan? But it discontinued because it was such a sexualized overtone. It didn't seem like the chat rooms offered you camaraderie because it was a sexualized nature, but it sounds to me like you're hitting on camaraderie with Susan's place and with. Others. Is that correct? And in regards what does that mean? How did you? Change what? What? What does that mean to find camaraderie in that in that place?

CONDOLORA: Well, I think the thing was is finding other people like me. That it wasn't about necessarily about sex as much as it was about. Who I was, you know. I mean this feeling of being a female that. And it it wasn't about. It wasn't about sex. It was about. A deeper internal feeling. And realizing that there, you know there wasn't just maybe one or two other people in the world like that. There was thousands of people in the world like that. Maybe tens of thousands of people in the world like that. And you know, they all had the same same similar kind of feelings, which was very comforting for me, you know. And they even knew that there was people from Denver that that, that would. Post on there.

DUFFIELD: How did that make you feel to have people in such close proximity?

CONDOLORA: Really good, you know. I mean, I was still not at the point where I was ready to open the closet door, but. I unlocked it.

DUFFIELD: You were still not at. The place where you. Were ready to open the closet door, but you were ready to. Unlock, but you unlocked it.

CONDOLORA: They liked it.

DUFFIELD: How did you feel after you. Turned that key so.

CONDOLORA: To speak well, it was a great feeling, you know, it was a feeling like. That maybe I could open the door. Probably the big thing that was holding me in the. Way it was my wife though. You know good.

DUFFIELD: Why don't we break here? This is a good stopping point. We'll begin with about 2000 and continue on next time, Julia. Excellent storytelling. I appreciate this so much.

CONDOLORA: Oh, you're welcome.

DUFFIELD: All right. Today is August 15th, 2021. My name is David Duffield. I am doing oral history with Julia Condolora as part of the Oral History Series. Julia, thank you for agreeing to doing this third oral history with us. CONDOLORA: You’re welcome DUFFIELD: So Julia, we were. Talking a little bit about your. So you were living in 1997 in your current house, yes? CONDOLORA: Yes DUFFIELD: And what city is that in? CONDOLORA: Denver, Colorado DUFFIELD: It's in Denver, OK? And you were working for a custom interior design place, is that correct? CONDOLORA: Custom material woodwork. So, I was working as a woodworker, Cabinet Maker DUFFIELD: Cabinet maker OK and so. How was life for you? CONDOLORA: It was comfortable enough, I like I said it was very much in the closet during that time, but I did like I used to work four 10s, which gave me Friday off. So that was, you know. And my wife worked on Friday, so that gave me the opportunity to dress at home sometimes, while she was at work. DUFFIELD: So what was? How are you feeling? You said you were very in the closet, when you were at work. Like no one would have understood. CONDOLORA: No, that was a very male atmosphere down there. DUFFIELD: And so you make this transition. So to speak to deciding to go back to school. What caused that? CONDOLORA: You know, I don't know it it. I I can't say that I didn't like woodworking because I've always loved it and I've always loved making things I just thought. You know for going forward in my life, I needed something, maybe a little less physical and maybe something that would pay a little bit better, you know, obviously the work that I did never had any benefits attached to it. Ohh you made pretty good money, but you didn't get your health insurance, or paid vacation or anything like that, so at least in at the places that I worked, maybe if some of the really big commercial shops would offer things like that, but not where I was, none of the places I ever worked at. And I don't know, I that was also like it seems like maybe it was earlier than that, but it seems like that's just about when the you know the PC, the home PC started becoming a thing. And my brother-in-law, who is a mechanical engineer, was showing me this program that he used called AutoCAD which is a design program. It's a drawing program and I thought, wow, that's really cool. I'd love to learn how to. How to do something like that? Because even if I stayed as a cabinet maker, it would be very beneficial to be able to do drawings on a program like that, so I decided I would go to school. Initially I was just going to go and get a certificate in that AutoCAD program, but I liked it. I like going to school at night. It was I don't know, it was very easy, I can say like the difference between that and the first time I went to college, it was like straight A's? You know, it didn't take much to get there. That was like that, we would start out every class with about 20 people in the course, and by the time it got to the end, there would be about 5 people left. Everybody else would drop out. And I was like I, you know. It was kind of funny but and it took me, I think about five years to actually get the degree. DUFFIELD: What was the degree in? CONDOLORA: What was an associate’s degree in drafting. I think it was called drafting for industry or something like that. But all of it was done on the computer. And you know, the longer I did it, the more proficient I got at using the computer. And of course, you had to learn how to do other thing. You know they made you take all those other classes. So, the more I used the computer, the better I got, like typing and other programs like Excel and Word and. You know they were, I think all in their infancy at that point, but I learned how to use all that stuff. Because I have to just to get through the course. DUFFIELD: So what was school like for you? Were you going physically to class? Where was that? CONDOLORA: It was on a a Community College of Denver, so it's like at that Metro state, whole campus. I think CU has a as a school there and metro state has a school there and Community College of Denver has they're building there. DUFFIELD: OK. And so, you started attending in 1998? CONDOLORA: I I think so. Something like that, yeah. DUFFIELD: And you finished around 2002? CONDOLORA: I think 2003 is when I finished. DUFFIELD: OK. So, what was going to? School there like at night. CONDOLORA: It was quiet, you know. Honestly, it wasn't a lot of like a teacher up there lecturing kind of thing. You know, I also had to take like physics and English or not English but Sociology or something? You know, I had to take a few other classes in order to get the degree. So that was a little bit more like real school, but the drafting classes were mainly. They would give you a syllabus of drawings that you were supposed to do and you would go into a classroom and there would be maybe a few minutes of lecture and then everybody would just sit at the computer quietly and work on their things. And if you had a problem that that, you know, the professor would come over and talk to you and show you how to do it. But it was primarily it was almost kind of self-taught in a way, not really, but there was a lot of working just by yourself. DUFFIELD: So, it sounds like a very independent degree, right? And so, you're able to kind of work during the day and then work at night on your degree. So how did you feel throughout that process, I mean, that's five years of life. CONDOLORA: You know, I think I was quite happy because I was doing something proactive, you know. So, I don't. When you're learning, it's hard to be depressed. DUFFIELD: I agree, I believe that's very true. So, tell me, like, what was the? What was the work during the day like. Because you said that you had your, you opened your shop about the same time. CONDOLORA: Yeah, it wasn't. I was just working out of my garage, but it was, you know, I wasn't really busy then because I was just starting out on under my own name basically and. Everything I did was a learning curve too, because you know, there's one thing to have somebody telling you to do something and a whole other thing trying to figure out how to do it yourself so there was some learning curve there and it was difficult working out of my garage. It's a very small space compared to like a real shop where you have. Room to move and room to put things and. But you know I managed to because it was, you know, I was doing smaller jobs and I had people that were that really liked me and would feed me work all the time, which was nice, including my former employer used to give me jobs to do all. The time you would. Since I wouldn't work for him, he would just bring work to me. DUFFIELD: So it seems like work was pretty steady, yeah. CONDOLORA: Not like it became once I moved into my real shop. Once I moved into the warehouse then it became like a real. Then I got really busy where I could never really keep up with everything that was come, you know, all my work. It was a lot more, to do. DUFFIELD: So what did? When did that happen? CONDOLORA: I moved in there in the spring of 2001. Just before 7/11. DUFFIELD: 9/11 CONDOLORA: 9/11 I'm sorry. DUFFIELD: That's OK. I mean, there's a 7/11 in there somewhere. What? Where was your shop located? CONDOLORA: It was located in Mapleton area. Magnolia St. 3900 Magnolia St. DUFFIELD: Ohh OK so it's right there. What was it called? Or is it still around? CONDOLORA: It is not still around. I tried to sell my business. But honestly, my business was mostly just me and you know, so I sold off a lot of things, but I couldn't get anybody to actually buy the name. It was called Acorn woodworking company. DUFFIELD: OK. So you just worked there by yourself? Or did you ever have any like people with you? CONDOLORA: Well, when I first moved in, I just worked by myself because it was basically, you know, my garage was never really big enough to do. Some of the projects that were offered to me so. I moved in there and I worked by myself for a little while. Then I started hiring people. At first, I would just hire people as I needed them. And I was really fortunate in in the same kind of warehouse complex where I was, there was another woodworker that did the same thing, also worked by himself and so he would help me out a lot when I needed it. He was never as busy as I was the whole time we were there. But eventually I realized I needed to have somebody full time. It just there was no way that I could just keep doing it. Right, you know, and even piercing it out cause when you need somebody. You need them, and if they're not already there. It's just like a real it's really hard to find somebody that can really help out. They usually end up not being all that much help. DUFFIELD: Yeah, I get that, believe me. What was like? So what kinds of? When were you dressing or when were you? Were you still doing it on the weekends or how did that presentation look from 97 to 2001 or 2003? CONDOLORA: So, when I was still here at the working out of the garage. You know, I would just it was more of a opportunity thing, you know. I could do it when it seemed like it would make sense. You know, I didn't have that much to do. Maybe my wife was working during the day. But then later on, when I moved into my business place that then it became like a well, I couldn't do it during the week. You know, somebody could walk in at any time. I mean, unless I kept the doors all locked and all that, which nobody runs their business, keeping their doors locked, very successfully, I would say anyway, and especially in the summer you had, I had like these two big giant garage doors of both. And so I would open up to keep it cool. And you know anybody you could walk in at any time. So, then it became like, more like a weekend thing where I could do it and if I you know, wasn't busy or something. The weekends were good. And even after I had employees, my employees would never work on the weekends. DUFFIELD: Right. Did you begin to change your outward appearance at all. CONDOLORA: Not initially, no. I would say. I can't remember when I decided to get my ears pierced. You know my outward appearance? No, but my under appearance, yes. You know because that's something I could do. DUFFIELD: You started wearing like underwear and and OK. Did you keep it in the shop? Or did you have like a like the special place at home that you used. CONDOLORA: Both DUFFIELD: OK. CONDOLORA: But mostly at the shop because I had tons of tons of room to store stuff there. And certainly, places that were discreet enough. I think also during that period I would, you know it was always coping mechanisms when I when I felt like it was getting to be too much. And I know everybody throws around the word dysphoria. I don't know that. I guess I felt dysphoria, but I mean basically I just had to find ways to cope with with it, so you know. Like I would. I think probably the first thing I did was shave my chest. I think that's the first thing I did because I couldn't stand seeing the hair on my chest. And I figured nobody would ever see that and. And surprisingly, my wife never even asked me about it. She didn't notice it. But, you know, and some men shades are just at that point in time, so it wasn't really too weird. And then that went. Then it did my legs. And you know, things like that. Wearing undergarments think anything I could get away with that wasn't an outward appearance. DUFFIELD: How did that feel? CONDOLORA: Ohh, you know it was just something that made me feel better even though. You know, I knew it wasn't helping my presentation in the world any, but it made me feel like. OK, this is good I can do this and. You know, I know I can't do that other stuff. Because, I mean, even at that point in time, the idea of coming out to people and transitioning, I thought there's no way I can do that. First of all, I'm too masculine. I work at this masculine job. You know, I thought my wife would leave me. Seemed like all the all the scenarios were bad to me, so it wasn't something I could place that I could go at that point in time. It was just wasn't. So I just had to find some way to hold off, I guess is the best way to just to hold. It off and do what I could do. DUFFIELD: When you say. Hold it off. What do you mean? CONDOLORA: Well, I I didn't think. I could transition, so I had to find some way to cope this is just to cope. Just too cope. DUFFIELD: So help me qualify because it's an important point that you feel this way for years and you live this way. For many, you present this way for many. Many years, but when you say. Times weren't so good. Or would that qualify in terms of a feeling like did you feel depressed or anxious? Or I guess the term in dysphoria would feel like just bogged down, but I don't know that experience. So, can you help me qualify it? CONDOLORA: Yeah, that's why I kind of struggle using the word dysphoria sometimes because I didn't, you know. I just didn't feel exactly. I knew that things weren't right. I guess at some point in my life I just decided to accept it, you know, it's kind of like I never liked being short until later, until now. There's nothing I could really do about it, so I just at some point accepted. I'm sure you know, and I didn't even realize it until later in life because I was like the second tallest person in my whole family. I was taller then all my cousins, that's taller than my aunts and uncles. My mother and father. My brother was taller than me, but other than that, I was like on top of the world. All of a sudden one day I realized you know what you're short. Just because you come from a short family doesn't make you tall. DUFFIELD: So you just said to accept it. CONDOLORA: I mean, it's one of those things you just kind of accept. And but it's still, it still was. You know, I don't know. There was this longing, I guess longing would be a good word for me. I always had this longing to want to be what I felt I really was. But I never really thought that I could be that. DUFFIELD: I don't suppose or I do suppose that there may have been a moment in your head where you accepted the fact that you were different. You your name for it? At that point, you said was not necessarily transvestite or transsexual, but cross dresser I think and that from our last interview and that you were accessing more and more information via the Internet like through Susan Space. And were you continuing to access more information and were you continuing to begin to think of yourself differently at that time while you're moving into your shop? CONDOLORA: Yes, I don't know. I don't know exactly. It's hard to put that timeline together, but there was that point where I found the word transgender and that's when like the light bulb went off. Even though, I mean, it should have in some ways. I am so stupid. I mean, this light should have went off like years and years and years. DUFFIELD: 20 years ago, right Well. CONDOLORA: 20? like 60 years ago, maybe. DUFFIELD: OK. OK. But wait a second. Did you find the word transgender? CONDOLORA: It was right around that time I think you know, I think. It was definitely when I started accessing that Susan Space website and also trying to think what else I would. Have what was some of the other sites? I don't know. I don't think I remember on the other ones, but I spent a lot of time on that. Website and I definitely it. It may have been a little bit later than 97 because when I got to my shop it eventually, I had to get Internet there. Because people wanted to communicate via e-mail and stuff. Like that and. You know that when I had spare time, I would get on there because it I could just. I could post on there or. You could read posts and all that and then. That's when the work that word that’s when I learned that word, though, that was really when I realized exactly who I was. DUFFIELD: Would you qualify that time with the phrase, perhaps I was transitioning at work? Like you were spending time away from home. And you were. Creating your own space because it seems like to. Me you were creating space for work, but at at the same time you just said when you found down time you were interacting in Susan's space, is that correct? OK. So, with that separate space you had at work was? There is greater freedom. CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah yeah definitely. Especially before I had full time employees. But even then, I mean. I would always. Get there in the morning before my employees and. I used to work till like 6 they. Go home at. Four, so a couple hours after they left, and if it wasn't needing to get something out the door that I really had to get done. You know, if I had half an hour here or something like that, you know, that would be something I could do. DUFFIELD: Logging into Susan space and or dressing. CONDOLORA: And there were other I I just don't know the names of any of the other like little message boards and stuff. That people would frequent. DUFFIELD: What were you doing or learning when you're on the message boards? Because so I see you as a habit of mine, like going to school at the same time and just kind of doing your own thing. And then if you had a question, you know, getting the thing going on, but when you're interacting via Susan space and these other message boards, what are you learning? What are you doing? CONDOLORA: What am I learning? I'm learning about other people. Same situation as me or other people that were transitioning. I mean, you know, I I do recall Susan's place had a section for cross dressers. They had a section for. You know people that were in transition, people that had completed transition, you know there there's different areas. So you could ask questions about surgeries. The only thing that Susan never allowed anybody to share information about hormones, other than you're taking him or you're not taking, you could never give like how much or, anything like that. I found that information elsewhere and I can't tell you exactly where it was, but other message boards where people would say, well, I'm taking, you know, like 4 milligrams a day and. And then I eventually found the place where I could buy it. DUFFIELD: Are you comfortable talking about that a little bit more. CONDOLORA: Sure. DUFFIELD: OK. So first of all, why didn't she allow people to talk about hormones on her website? CONDOLORA: I don't know. I really have I think because she didn't want people self-medicating. DUFFIELD: Right. It wasn't medically, but could one get insurance and have it covered through insurance? CONDOLORA: Ohh no, not back then. I don't think so. DUFFIELD: So that wasn't a medically A viable option, right? CONDOLORA: You know, I think you're pretty much at that point, you know, like. But I I don't know because I never tried. I think in that point in time you had us pay out of pocket. Which was a whole other, you know everything was out of pocket and it was expensive. And that's, you know, so. That was a whole another obstacle in the way of me even thinking well, I can't do this, you know lots of money and you know. I'd have to go to a doctor know what, doctor? What kind of a doctor would you go to? you know, but. Because I wasn't communicating with people in Denver, I think Susan lived in United Kingdom. And there were people on there from all over the place, Australia. The US and I, I do know that there were people on there from Denver. Because they said so but I didn't know them, I mean, it was just like some. DUFFIELD: So let me get this straight. You would go and you'd talk with people on the message board, the message board. You would read the person's story is that right? And then comment on the story, ask questions about the story is that right? CONDOLORA: Yeah. DUFFIELD: So in a way whose stories were you most interacting with? CONDOLORA: Well, it was initially was cross dressers. I put myself as that was still at that point in time that was still when I first started going on there, that was still probably what I would have considered myself. DUFFIELD: And do you remember some of the stories? Or people you were interacting with the most. CONDOLORA: Not, not particularly there, you know. You know, people would talk about. Where they would buy their clothes and. You know, tell stories about. Ohh last night I got dressed up and went out and, you know, and things like that. DUFFIELD: You know, was there a particular kind of story you were most attracted to? For or followed an ideation that you got from all of the other like a I hate to say fantasy but but like if you put yourself in the position of that person and you're following their story. And you're most intrigued. By it does that make sense? CONDOLORA: Um, no. DUFFIELD: OK, let me. Clarify so you what kinds of stories were you reading the most of? CONDOLORA: Oh gosh, I don't know. I don't think I really remember. You know, people were just, I think, you know, some of the people, they're just getting on there to tell their story, you know, say, you know, I'm like I'm only 41 and I've been doing this all my life and. Or people to talk about, I just painted my nails for the first time. I mean, there, there is a lot of different things. DUFFIELD: Did you ever share your story? CONDOLORA: I did not. You're not. I I don't believe I did. No, I think the, you know, the main thing that was intriguing me is that. You know, it's not that I was. I always knew that there were other people like me. I just didn't know how many there were. You know, that was very comforting. There is a people and there are people all over the world that were like me and. And some people, even you know. And then the, you know, the more I I probably didn't stay with the cross dressing part of it for very long because the other the other stories were more intriguing. DUFFIELD: In what way? CONDOLORA: Other people that were transitioning and changing their life and being authentic and all this. You know, it just looks like Oh my God, people do this. DUFFIELD: So your possibilities expanded a great deal. CONDOLORA: Yeah. DUFFIELD: OK. Do you remember some of the ways you were imagining your future at that point? Were you beginning to open up about transition or the possibilities of it? CONDOLORA: I would say probably by the mid 2000s I probably was, yeah. DUFFIELD: OK. Well, let's move into that point. So from about 2003 to about 2006, how often were you using Susan's Space and dressing it at home? And what were some other events that were going on in your life? CONDOLORA: Milo states again 2003 to 2006. DUFFIELD: So just after the Iraq war started to about the beginning of the Obama presidency. CONDOLORA: Let's what else was going on in my life? I think that was when my business was starting to get bigger. More more work. The work was changing a bit. I don't know. I think it was also spending more time at at the shop and less time at home at that point in time. Certainly by 2006 I would have been. DUFFIELD: If it's appropriate to ask what was the how was the relationship at home with your wife? Was it OK or was it having any trouble? CONDOLORA: In 2006 it was OK. Trying to remember when. Yeah, actually without something to corroborate exactly what time, I think she was working at University of Denver then. DUFFIELD: OK. CONDOLORA: So things were pretty good. Because she was making pretty, really good money. And she'd be off for the whole summer and ohh no, she wasn't off for the summer then. No, she was working in the summer. I don't know. I think the home were pretty good, yeah. DUFFIELD: Some of the things you were doing on Susan's place then in, in, in your workshop, what kinds of stories were you engaging with? Are there any new avenues you were trying different ways of dressing, different ways of presenting? CONDOLORA: No, not really. Because I I was still. Well, of course I was still in the closet. But I mean, I was still. I was, I don't know. I I don't want to say I was still learning because I think I was pretty much figuring things out, but. I still didn't see myself transitioning at that point in time. It just didn't seem like something. I could do. Again, you know, I still had this, you look too much like a guy you’re too much of a guy or, you know, a thing. You know, I was just trying to deny all that. And honestly, unlike almost every other trans person I know, I never saw a therapist. Perhaps if I had it would have figured out this stuff a lot sooner. But I never did. DUFFIELD: Why was that? CONDOLORA: I don't know cause I guess it would mean I would have to. It would probably I would have. Why would I be going to a therapist? It would force my hand, you know. DUFFIELD: It would mean you were different, and it sounds like you. Had coping mechanisms. I mean, there's certainly a lot of time you have for your business and then you finished your degree in 2003, right? So, it's like. You're occupied. You're able to distract or dissuade yourself necessarily from the feeling right with work is that correct? CONDOLORA: It was a work was a coping mechanism too. It was definitely you know because when you're working especially. Maybe on a table saw or something like that. You pretty much have to concentrate on that, and you can't be thinking about all these other things. So yeah, and I spent a lot of time working. You know, there was. Definitely a way to cope with all. Of what was. Going on around me. Still, you know, even though. Even though there was the gender identity center and all these things, you know, I still didn't realize. How many people were in the process of transition? It still seemed like something that was like just not achievable for me. So, I could never really go there. And I mean, I could never really think about ohh my god, if I could just do this I can transition. DUFFIELD: You never imagined going or. CONDOLORA: Not until, like probably like 2010 maybe, whereas I you know. At at the point when I decided I'm going to do this is probably around 2010. But not at 2006, I wasn't there yet. DUFFIELD: OK. But you were slowly getting there? CONDOLORA: I think I was slowly getting there. But I wasn't. I did not think that was something. That I could do at that point in time, I just didn't. DUFFIELD: But what eventually caused you to get to that? CONDOLORA: I just ran out of coping mechanisms. You know, I didn't have. Anything left I could do underneath? Or on the weekends. Or, you know, at other times I couldn't do it enough to really cope anymore. There was no more next step. DUFFIELD: There's no more painting in your nails. There's no more wearing underneath your clothes. There's no more doing it when you have downtime on the weekends, and particularly because you have, like a whole bunch of work that you have to get done. So, what, at what point did you finally say to yourself, enoughs enough? CONDOLORA: Well, I can't tell you the exact point, but it was somewhere around 2010 and that's when I started saying, well, because there were other websites that would go to that. You know, and I don't remember the names of any of them because they were just, and I doubt they're still around because they're like Ohh you could. These different herbs and they would, you know, cause breast growth, breast growth and you know, of course you could never eat enough plant estrogen. Plant based estrogen to grow breast but at the time I thought maybe you could so it's it seemed like something I would do. It was my last gasp. It was my last gasp atcoping without telling anybody. DUFFIELD: OK. So like what was the? You were not actively taking hormones at that point, right, but it sounds like the next step was you chose to start looking into that. CONDOLORA: Yeah, yeah, I chose to. I chose that I was going to transition. I didn't know how or at what point in time? But I decided that I was going to do it. DUFFIELD: OK. Do you remember what caused you to go through that process? Like what was the like where we just like I can't do this anymore. Or does that do anything like that? Come to mind. CONDOLORA: I think the only. Cause causation was is they just ran out of ways to cope, even working a million hours a week wasn't enough to to do that. You know, I was just like. I just didn't have anything left. There was nothing left to. To keep it at Bay. When I said it, I don't know exactly what it is that's living life. You know, it's like living life is a lie and just. You know, just that there's the shame and all that stuff was still there. I mean, I was still like, I can't tell anybody about this because I was ashamed of it. And I was like. I was learning that it wasn't a thing to be ashamed of anymore, but I don't think. I don't know. Do you know when like? The first famous person decided that to come out as transgender Chaz Bono or somebody like that. DUFFIELD: Chaz Bono. Yeah, that would have been about 2006. Or 2010? Maybe. But right about that same time. CONDOLORA: But yeah, but I mean the word wasn't. I mean, like right now you could. I don't think there's anybody in the planet doesn't know what transgender means. DUFFIELD: I doubt it. CONDOLORA: But at that time, I think probably most people didn't know. In fact, even when I started coming out to people, I would have to explain it to them. I had to explain it to my wife. She didn't you? Know when I was trying to tell her she thought I was trying to tell her I was gay. DUFFIELD: Well, let's let's go into that a little bit more. So set me up for the time like, the thought process going into telling your wife. CONDOLORA: I was already taking hormones and had been for a while. I wanted to tell her I had written this letter to her even before I started taking hormones because I had all these clothes. I always thought, what the hell would ever happen if I was to die and my wife finds all this stuff, you know. DUFFIELD: Right. CONDOLORA: I mean, you know, you can hide stuff pretty well, but you know when you're selling the house, all the stuff comes out or the business, it's going all be found. So I you know, I wrote a letter to her, but I could never. I never really had the courage to give it to her. But I've always had it like with my stuff to explain exactly what all this is and I never ever do. DUFFIELD: Right. CONDOLORA: I ended up throwing it away. I never did give it to her, even after I came out to her. And then so I was taking hormones already decided I was going to transition. I just was. I was in a lot of fear of telling her. You know, it was like how in the world can I am I ever? Going to be able to tell her about this. And her reaction was so much different than what I imagined you know, I imagined all this bad stuff and. You know, I imagine the well, you've been lying to me your whole life. You get the hell out of here. I never want to. See you again, you know. But I kept thinking, well, I I got to tell her. I got to tell her. I got to tell her. I don't know. I was just like one of those times. Where was I, I hadn't actually intended to tell her at this point in time. It was like we're sitting. At the table. And she said something about some secret thing. And I said Ohh, everybody has secrets. And she goes well, you don't have any secrets, do you? And I said Ohh yeah, I have one really big secret. And she goes, tell me what it is. And I said well, I can't and she just kept prodding me. Come on, tell me what it is. You've got a big secret. You got to tell me what it is. You got to tell me. Finally, I just said, well, I'm transgender. And she goes ohh. And there was a brief moment of silence. And then she. Said, well, you know. I believe everybody has the right to be free and to be who they are. I'm sorry, it was a very wonderful moment. DUFFIELD: I sympathize, believe me, I do. So she didn't have a negative reaction at all. She simply said everybody has the right to be free and who they are. CONDOLORA: And but she was didn't really understand what I was telling her. Because then her next statement was is well, if you need to be with a guy, you know. And I said, well, no, wait a minute, I said. I am gay, but I like women. And then I had to explain what being transgender really was, she didn't really understand the term because. It wasn't a household word yet. DUFFIELD: So she she didn't understand what transgender was? CONDOLORA: She didn't understand what it meant. And so, you know, I explained the whole thing to her and. And you know, I guess then some of the things. In the past of our life started becoming clear to her, you know. I mean, she found my panties one time, and I kind of explained it away. And ohh one of the things that really, I had a chance to tell her quite a bit earlier than that one time when I had. Decided to get my ears pierced and I think that would have been around 2008 or nine or something like that. I decided, well, that was again another coping thing. If I had it pierced ears, that would make me feel really good. And it really did because. I hated those clip on things, they hurt like hell so being able to, you know, buy all these, I could buy some nicer earrings basically, but, she's when I came home and I said it was on my birthday. That I got it done and I said, hey I got my ears pierced for my birthday and she looked at. Me, she said. Yeah. I've never really liked pierced ears on guys and I I said ohh. OK. And I thought later on, I thought, well, why didn't you just say I don't either or something? That was a missed opportunity, but. And they had other missed opportunities, but I think some of these things are to be coming a little more clear to her, you know? You know. Ohh maybe. That's why she shaves her legs. Or probably he shaves his legs at the time you know, yeah. DUFFIELD: At that point. So what happened afterwards? CONDOLORA: Well, I mean, she was she was on board. With it right away. I mean, she said, you know? OK, with every whatever you want to do, you know you just be yourself and you know that process took some time. Still, I didn't immediately go out, in the world and tell everybody, unfortunately. Or maybe fortunately. She pushed that along a little bit by outing me to a few people. And I said, why in the world would you tell Kerry who's her best friend, my best friend? We tell each other everything. And I'm like, well, OK, but don't tell anybody else. But of course, she told a few other people and, you know, I said, well, you know, the world didn't end. Wow, the world didn't end when those people found out. So, I picked out a few people to tell. OK. People that I thought, you know, these are the people that would be pretty supportive of this and they were, you know, again couple of them I had to explain exactly what that meant. I remember when my one friend, Cheryl I told her and. She said look, is taking those hormones, does that cause your boobs to grow? And I said, yeah, she goes, Ohh I thought I noticed that. Yeah, I thought I was hiding there pretty well, but that's not as well as I thought it was, but. DUFFIELD: So how did your group of friends take it? Cause they've always been very important in your life. I mean as far as I know. CONDOLORA: Well, you know. I only had one. Friend, who was a friend of Carole's and mine. Who was kind of, I would say he found it to be a little weird. And we don't see him anymore. He's stopped being a friend. Mainly cause my wife didn't get along with him. But and some of her friends didn't seem to think. Yeah, some of her friends still don't really appreciate me. But surprisingly, you know, almost all my friends were like. And even once that you know the. That shocked me. I said, well, this one is going. To be a bad. One, you know, like my friend. Dave, I had known him since like the third grade, and it just turned out we moved out here to Denver, but at different times, and we reconnected out here. And so I've known him like my whole life. And he was. Someone I would suspect would be supportive of such a thing, you know. I said, you know, this is not gonna go good. But no, he said. Ohh, that's fine. I'm knowing you my whole life and nothing's changed. DUFFIELD: Wow. So, it went pretty well. CONDOLORA: Yeah. This was this whole process took I I don't know. I would have to say almost six months or half a year or a year maybe even because it's like I said, I picked out the good ones first, that I thought would be supportive and then. I went on the list, you know. And then I got to my sister. And, you know, people like that. It was like, you know, I just wasn't ready to blab it out there to everybody right away. DUFFIELD: How did it come out to your sister? CONDOLORA: I thought I I thought my sister would be very supportive. Just really, she's so a liberal and she's that's just how she is. She wouldn't be someone that would not be supportive. You know, she may not understand, but she would still be supportive. My brother, on the other hand, is a Trumper. And I thought he would not be supportive, so I never even told him my sister. But and my sister and I are a lot closer, she lives in Denver too. And she was she was good with it. She was fine. Thought her husband would be not supportive. Because he's just really opinionated about things, like everything. But he's fine with it too, although he still has a little bit of problem remembering the pronouns yeah to this day so. But he's not like, he's not, like doing it in a mean way or he's not. He doesn't say anything bad about me or anything like that, he's just an idiot. DUFFIELD: OK, well, let's, let's come back to like. OK, so in the in that period of time from 2008 to 2011, there's quite a lot of change, right? So. Started taking hormones at some point before you came out to your wife, right? Do you remember how you got those? CONDOLORA: I bought them from an offshore pharmacy. It's called Four Corners pharmacy. It was on an island called Vanadoo or something like this, then, then Vinadendo or something. DUFFIELD: Anyways, we'll go ahead. CONDOLORA: Yes, they were very expensive, but it was like. Basically, I was drug smuggling. I was a little leery of it. You know, I found out about it from some message board. And I thought, well I said it's. I think it was like maybe like $120.00 for a couple of months fly or something like that. And I thought. Well, I'm going to take a chance on that. I'll just try it once and if it doesn't work out, it's only 120 bucks. I mean, already spent I don't. God knows how much money on. DUFFIELD: Clothes? CONDOLORA: No, I was going to say herbs and different things you know. Things that they saw at the store at the. Store for women that are going through menopause. All these different things that. It came in the mail, just like it supposed to. And so I thought well. I'll buy some more. OK. And you know, I immediately I bought the patch. It was the climera patch and I put it on. And I am. I can say that I had a placebo effect like no other that I immediately felt like (exhales) this is it. Now of course it you know, it took probably a couple of months before those things really started to having an effect on my body, but mentally, to affect mentally was immediate. DUFFIELD: So, what was the difference? How did you feel? CONDOLORA: I thought, well, you know, it was like it's like, you know, like maybe. Say you wanted to go to Italy your whole life. You buy the ticket. You get pack your bags and all that. But you don't really get excited till you're on the plane and it starts to take off. DUFFIELD: Right. CONDOLORA: The plane starts to take off, then it's it's real. You're really going and you're really going to be there, you know. What I mean? DUFFIELD: Right, right, I know. CONDOLORA: So it's it's kind of like taking off. In a plane. Was kind of going to that place that you always wanted to go to, and now you're on your way. DUFFIELD: OK. CONDOLORA: And even though you're not there. The mental feeling, you know that. I don't know exactly how to even verbalize it, but it was just that. DUFFIELD: The same as going somewhere. CONDOLORA: I'm on my I'm on my. Yeah, I'm on my way. DUFFIELD: And after so long it must. Have felt pretty profound. What was the name of the patch again Climara? So it after you had that initial like placebo effect, however long it lasts in those few months that you begin to take like hormone that you get from the offshore pharmacy and? That's before you start coming out to your wife, right? OK. And so was it a long period of time or? Was it just a few months? CONDOLORA: Before I came out to my wife. I would say it was four or five months. Yeah, but it was pretty long period of time. DUFFIELD: Did you share your experience with like anybody in your in your spaces like in on Susan space or the other chat sites? CONDOLORA: Yeah, that out that I was starting to take hormones and that you know that I was beginning my transition and all that stuff, you know, I think I shared on there also that I was taking the herbal things. Yeah, I wasn't. The only person trying that, obviously in the world, there was a lot of people and a lot of people actually we're reporting having positive effects from that, but I don't. I don't know. DUFFIELD: Wasn't that way for you? CONDOLORA: No. DUFFIELD: So not like this immediate positive effect that was more gradual. CONDOLORA: The herbal stuff I had no. DUFFIELD: Ohh none not at all. CONDOLORA: None at all. DUFFIELD: So many so much. There's always so much plant estrogen you could take, right? Yeah, but So what? What were some of the? Other kinds of things you tried. CONDOLORA: Besides the plant based estrogens? DUFFIELD: Yeah. Besides the plant based. CONDOLORA: Yeah, there there's stuff that they sell in the store for women that are going through menopause to help alleviate the effects, you know, like the hot flashes and all that. I don't know that it helps them, but it didn't really have any effect on me because I don't think there's enough of whatever, whatever. And there there probably wasn't enough to really change to like eliminate testosterone. DUFFIELD: Or really shoot up the estrogen production. CONDOLORA: Right. DUFFIELD: Which in my understanding is what the what hormone replacement? Therapy does. It's just. Yeah, it just drives down production of 1 and kind of increases the production of the other. Is that correct? So like OK. I'm imagining you in about 2009 beginning to take hormones, right? And eventually. CONDOLORA: No, it wasn't until 2012. DUFFIELD: 2012 OK. So, you had, so did you came out to your wife after 2012? CONDOLORA: It would have had been after that. Probably would have been in 2012, but I think I started. Well, maybe. Maybe it wasn't. I'm not really sure. It might have been 2013 when I came out to her. DUFFIELD: Right about those couple of years so. How does your life begin to change? What what's the first thing you start to do? After you've, you've come out to your wife, you stop your business. Is that correct? Right. And how long you know your business is not currently active, right? CONDOLORA: Now, yeah, no, I've retired. DUFFIELD: OK, so you retired, I think what, a couple of years ago, right? CONDOLORA: Yeah, I'd retired in 2019. DUFFIELD: In 2019, so a couple of years. So between 2013, after you come out, what's kind of like that first year like for you? What are some of the first things you begin to do? CONDOLORA: Well, I didn't come out at work. So I was leading very a dual life and since I, you know, like I said, it took me a while to come out to all the people that I knew in my life. But even then, you know, so then it was so you know, it's like 2 people. I was somebody that dressed feminine and wanted people to use my new name, which actually was Julie at the time, which my wife still calls me Julie. She doesn't call me Julia. And at this I started going to the GIC. I would go, like my wife and I would go. To like restaurants or to concerts or something like things like that and I go dressed up but at work. And everybody at work, my employees, all the vendors and contractors that work for, they didn't know anything about that I had to play this dual role and it's easy enough. To hide the hair in a ponytail. I guess in in in like the construction world. In the woodworking world, having earrings and long hair, wasn't really a key to anything, you know? Nobody was looking at me like, what are you transitioning? But the boobs were starting to become a problem. But you know, I just wore it, like, extremely large sweatshirts in the wintertime and extremely large T-shirts in the summer. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I mean, they weren't. They were developing, but they weren't huge and. I guess the thing is that I did find out later that people noticed. Nobody wanted to say to a man, you know. You got pretty big boobs, right? Nobody says that to a guy, so. Even though they may have noticed, they didn't say anything. DUFFIELD: Well, OK, so take me back to. I mean, that's kind of says something about it, though. There's a there's an amount of privilege and respect in that regard, right. No one wants to say anything or come across as offensive or insulting. But also, maybe they recognized, but they didn't want to say, do you think anybody knew? CONDOLORA: Well, I think probably somebody did, you know, no, nobody. None of my friends ever told me that they figured it out. So I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I think I pulled off being a guy pretty decently. I mean, I had it like. 50 years of practice at that or 60 years of practice. At that point, you know, it was pretty pretty good at faking it. DUFFIELD: So tell me about. I mean like going to the GIC. What was that like? CONDOLORA: Well, I was. I was scared to go there and now this is after I come out to my wife and. You know, I figured out all this stuff, but I, you know, believe it. It still didn't even know the GIC existed. Yeah, no, I didn't know there was something like that because I just. I don't know. You know, I knew. I knew about, like, BJ's, and I knew I think at that point in time. Ohh yeah, definitely at point in time because even before that I remember going to Hamburger Mary's one time when my wife was out of town. I don't know. I guess you know when you're trying to hide something from the world, you just don't look for things like that. And I didn't. Yeah, you know, even like, if I saw a drag show or something advertised, I'd be like, well, I could never go to that because then everybody there would know that I was a crossdresser or transgender or whatever, you know, it's just one of those silly things that I believed. Which was so stupid. I was an extremely stupid person most of my life, I really was. DUFFIELD: Oh, I give yourself some more credit than that, I might say. Cautious, but not stupid. CONDOLORA: I don't know. I could have saved myself a lot of headaches, but. And I forgot where I was going with. This story ohh. DUFFIELD: About going to the GIC. CONDOLORA: So I I ended up finding. On the Internet and I followed it for a little while. What was going on? And then I decided, you know what? And I was like Carol, there's this place, you know, that' where people like me go and they have support groups, and they have one on Saturday night. And I said I want to go, but I you know, I said I'm afraid to go by myself, would you go with me? DUFFIELD: You went with your, is that right? When you did, I hear that correctly. You went with your wife. CONDOLORA: The very first time, yeah. Because the Saturday night social group was open to everybody. OK. And so I said it's open to everybody. Would you go with me? She said oh yea, let's go down there. And then the rest is history. After that, after the one time going with her I and meeting all the people there, I said. Ohh well, I could definitely go here anytime I want. There's nothing scary about this place it’s full of people like me. DUFFIELD: How did you feel going into that first social? CONDOLORA: Well, I was nervous and honestly, I don't. You know, it was like it was a support group meeting, you know, and we all sat around. At GIC, I see used to sit around in a circle. And everybody would give their names. I don't think they did pronouns then I think it. Was just, you know, give us whatever name you wanted to use. Maybe they did pronouns? I'm not sure. And when it got to me. I said Julie. And I don't think I never told my wife that and see I picked out that name like when I was in my 20s and it wasn't until I actually legally changed my name that I decided on Julia. DUFFIELD: Six years ago today, actually yesterday. So, your name anniversary was yesterday or your name birthday was yesterday. So how did you? I just have to. How did you pick Julie or Julia? Well, I mean, Julie first but then Julia. But I'm just curious where you said you picked him in your 20s. CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't remember. I think I just like the name and I had a Jay. You know my dead name is John. So I just went with the same initials. I guess I don't really know. I liked the name and. So that was it, you know, and I just. Decided that was going to be my name. DUFFIELD: OK. And how did you pick Julia over Julie? CONDOLORA: You know when I actually got to the process of like doing paperwork and thinking about well. And then I got to do a middle name too, cause I'm not going to keep my old one even though. That's what my sister thought I should do. I looked at it and I thought I gor my middle name I picked. My mother's name, which is Antonetta. DUFFIELD: Ohh very nice. CONDOLORA: And my last name is Candolora. So when you have. I thought Julia looks a lot. You know a lot better with Antonetta Condolora so. DUFFIELD: Julia Antonetta Condolora sounds alliterative. So I mean, we're going through a lot of territory here, but I want to slow down for a minute and go back to like, so how did? You feel after you chose the name Julia. Like going through the name, changing process and paper. CONDOLORA: I remember walking out. Well, the whole process was a pain in the butt, you know, and get to go to the FBI and get all that stuff and do all that. But when I finally got it all done, I walked out of the courtroom. Was the name change order. It was just like I don't know. I just said it was it was August and it was beautiful out and I just sat down on the steps of the court building there, you know, and I just sat there and said, Oh my God, this is so wonderful. You know, it was just like it was a moment. It was like one of those moments I'll never forget it. DUFFIELD: August the 2015. 14, sorry. CONDOLORA: Yeah, it was yesterday actually. DUFFIELD: Yes, it was August 14th, 2014. Let maybe pause for just a moment. CONDOLORA: No, 2016, it was six years. DUFFIELD: 16 yeah. Sorry, do you mind if we pause for just a second? All right, after a quick bathroom break. So, tell me a little bit about like. What was that first year to like going to the GIC or I mean, I'm just drawn there like, what was that like? For you, did you start attending social stuff on Sundays? Or Saturdays. CONDOLORA: Saturdays. Yeah, because. Had several different groups, but. The most convenient one for me was the Saturday night Social group because. For cause of. Work they always. I think they always started at 7:00. Then later 6:30 but. You know, for me to get home and get cleaned up and all that and get down there, it was like it was hard for me to do anything during the week. So I would go to the Saturday night social. Everybody was welcome there. There was a lot of people that they did have a cross dressers group then. But they only went. They only met like, I think once a month. And so a lot of the cross dressers would come to the Saturday night group. And so did there be transmasculine people there and transfeminine people just all kinds of people go to that group, so it was it was nice. DUFFIELD: Where would you go? Would it be at the GIC itself on where was it then? It was on South Broadway near Mississippi. CONDOLORA: No, it was on S Huron St. yeah, near Mississippi. Yeah, just South of Mississippi. DUFFIELD: Right there near. Yeah, just in in that. What is the name of the neighborhood? It doesn't matter but so. CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't know. I don't even know the name of the neighborhood. DUFFIELD: But you would end up having just socials there, right. CONDOLORA: OK. Well, it was it was a support group, you know? And so initially, you know, I thought, well, what a great place for information you know and resources because all of a sudden, I found out. There's a doctor here. There are actually a couple doctors in Denver where you don't need to see a therapist to go to see them. And all this stuff I was like, oh my God, I didn't know. So you know that was and they had to. Information on how to change your name and. All the stuff that one might need, you know. But initially it was just, you know, mostly to be with other people like me, you know? DUFFIELD: What was the? Who were some of? The first folks you met there. CONDOLORA: Sherry Proctor used to go to that group. Sequoia. I don't know if you know of Sequoia. DUFFIELD: I don't know one. I probably don't know anybody but continue. CONDOLORA: Let's see who else used to. Go to that a lot. Well, I met some good friends there. Katie and Denise and. They became friends that are still friends of mine. Later on, Jenny. Yeah, that was, those were the like, the pretty much regular people. Ohh Chantel was a regular. She eventually got kicked out, but she I see. Oh, but she was a regular on the Saturday night group. DUFFIELD: What were some of the first things you began to do or were interested in doing? CONDOLORA: At the group, yeah. Ohh, I don't know, it was just it was nice to just share your experiences and learn things from other people. DUFFIELD: Beyond the Saturday night group were there any other things that you did? CONDOLORA: No, I was busy with work. DUFFIELD: What were some of the? CONDOLORA: But I will, I will say like. A little bit later on, some of the people that I met there we. Would go out. You know, we go to tracks, go dancing and. Different things like that. But it at first it was mostly just going to the group. And the other thing was as we go to the breakfast king after group. Which was, you know, again it was like a. And the first time I remember doing that, I thought ohh my God, these people go out in public. So that seems kind of scary. Especially the place like the breakfast king. You know, there's, there's just all kinds of people in there. And I, you know, I just imagine walking in and everybody in the whole place turning around and looking at us and starting. The whole time and all that, and it was never really like that. DUFFIELD: I mean, people probably don't care. Were you scared the first time you went out? CONDOLORA: So the breakfast came now. Because I was with all the other people there. So it was. I wasn't scared. OK. But it was. I don't know I say it was totally comfortable. Either I wouldn't not scared, but not comfortable. DUFFIELD: So those kinds of a discomfort, right? OK. Just getting used to everything. What was the? What were some other things you began to do with the GIC beyond that first year and the couple of years afterwards? Like by 2014 or 2015. CONDOLORA: Well, you know, they'd have other events and some of those I could go. To as long as they're on the weekends. I don't know. I just I I will say one thing. I remember that when I walked in there the first time, I wondered how in the world. Do they ever generate enough money to keep this place open, you know because. I thought, you know, being in business, I know how much it costs just to unlock. The door, you know, before you. Before you make any money, there's insurance and there's. Lights and gas and. All the things you know that they pay for before you can unlock the door and. I thought I don't. Know how they do this, you know? And so I was very curious about that. DUFFIELD: So what did you find out? CONDOLORA: Well, I found out through, you know, through donations mostly it was just and counseling. And their counseling program was not real big bit when they're on Huron St. because they only had like 2 offices that they could use for counseling. One of them was really Karen's office that she didn't use all the time. DUFFIELD: OK, so very limited income, right? Is that something you felt you wanted to change or help with? CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah yeah, yeah. I mean almost immediately. Yes, I, you know, this, this place is important and I, you know, I gotta volunteer here. I gotta do something. To help out. At first I I really didn't have the time because. I thought, you know, it's just work. There's no way I was gonna, but you know that I realized. Yeah, you know what? I can at least do something, and I can come. On the weekends or do whatever you know. And then the opportunity came up to get on the board and I jumped on that. DUFFIELD: When was that? CONDOLORA: Ohh you're gonna ask me for a date again? I don't know. DUFFIELD: That’s okay, tell me the story. CONDOLORA: Well, they just put a post in that, you know, they used to. Get a newsletter out every week or. Week or so and they just had a post in there that. Says we're looking for. People to be on the board. If you want to be on the board, apply and you know, so I did. And I had to go through a little interview process in front of the trustees, the board trustees. They had a board of trustees at that point, too, and. And they put me in. DUFFIELD: Well, who are some of the folks on the board at that point? CONDOLORA: So let's see. I'm at that. The first board was Sean Turk was the president. Oh gosh, I'm so bad with names. Sherri Proctor was on the board. Trying to think who the vice president was. And Ben was the secretary and Grayson was the treasurer. And I think maybe. I'm not sure if I remember who this vice president was it. Might have been Beck. DUFFIELD: OK. So what were some of the things as? A newly minted board member that you? Started to do. CONDOLORA: Ohh well so that was the first time. I was ever on any kind of a board like that. It was again another learning experience, but. So they wanted everybody to be on one of the committees. I immediately wanted to be on the events committee because I am pretty good at organizing things. Just, you know, because of my work organization is something that if you're in business, if you're not very organized, you're not in business very long. So they went along with that. They put me on the events committee Sherry. Proctor was the chair of the Events Committee at that point and I was a member at large on the on the board. OK, Sherry was also large and there should have been one other member at large. So who would that have been? Maybe that was Beck. Who the heck would have been the vice president? Know I don't remember. DUFFIELD: What were some of the things you did? So you organize a few events. CONDOLORA: Well, you know, Sherry was really the chair, so she did most of the organizing at first. And she ended up resigning from the board about 3/4 of the way through my first year being on the board. So I became the default chair at that point. But mostly we did like the. The PRIDE events, so we would go down there and set. Up the tent and. Try and get people to volunteer to be at. The at the. Events and we did like 4 different prizes and then we also did the peoples fair. And then later on. I did a lot of other things, you know, honestly, if anybody asked me if I wanted to do. Set up a table with something. I would always do it, you know, so you know, like Cinco de Mayo and. I remember going to this. Was something this that this tech company put on or was not LGBTQ people even there? I mean, I was the only one. It was kind of awkward to be honest with you? I did that and I did a few presentations later on also. DUFFIELD: How many did you do per year? CONDOLORA: Well, you know, you mean presentations. I only did a couple because really, Karen, when Karen was there and in charge mostly, they were done by either her or interns. DUFFIELD: OK. CONDOLORA: And you know after the. After she left, there was probably just nobody else to do them so I volunteered. DUFFIELD: OK, so sort of how long were you involved from the GIC from about 2014 or so until it closed in 2020, I think? CONDOLORA: Oh no, it closed. DUFFIELD: For 2019. CONDOLORA: I think it was 2018. DUFFIELD: 2018 what's that? God, it's hard to believe it's been that long. CONDOLORA: I know, but you know, this is the last year of 2020. DUFFIELD: And 2021. Well, let's go back. CONDOLORA: You know, again, you know me and dates. I'm not very good with them. I would have to look something up to find out exactly when those things were, and I could do that. If you really want to get these exact dates down. DUFFIELD: Well, we'll talk about that afterwards, but I I think it's important to talk about your work with the GIC in particular and as much as possible. But like going back into your story, so sort of like 2013 is a really big. Pivotal year, right? You also tell me that you’re starting to go out to concerts and to like restaurants in full dress with your wife. Is that right? How were you feeling during that process? I mean, you said you felt nervous with the breakfast king, but. CONDOLORA: Well, you know, at first, I was, you know, I was kind of terrified, to be honest with you. You know it. It went remarkably well at first, so I thought, well, you know what? Just gonna be OK. My wife had a way of pushing me to do some things that. I probably wouldn't have done as quickly without her because like for example, the first concert that we went to was. What's the name of that band? It was at the Ogden. I remember that. And it's the band that, those that song. Ohh well, you know I'm not going to be able to remember that. I know that bad sons was one of the bands and. New Republic, not New Republic. Anyway, that's the actual name of the band is probably not all that important, but. She invited also when you know, she was working at the University of Denver at the time and she invited one of the girls. She used to work with the students basically, and she invited one of the girls to go to this concert with us. So it was like. I'm like Carol. Are you kidding me? This is gonna be weird. And it was not. You know, this like, girl was perfectly fine with it. We went to the concert and I sat down next to a total stranger. That was another woman and she just chatted with me like. Like I was just another woman. And that was so affirming to me that I can't even tell you, because after that it was like, you know what? I can do this. It's not really, you know, I have a few. I would say privileges over most trans women, and one of them is that I’m very short. So that thing that I hated earlier in my life turns out to be a good thing later in my life because, you know, not being like this really big. You know, person with the big shoulders and all that trying to squeeze into a dress. It's kind of an advantage to me and the other thing is my age and. It's like most people just. I don't know. They don't kind of I'm almost invisible. I think sometimes the people don't even notice that on there. DUFFIELD: So you felt really affirmed after the concert? CONDOLORA: Ohh yeah yeah very much so, and especially because she invited this other girl, you know, it's just kind of. It's just the ladies night out kind of thing. You know and. Nobody looks at like 3 women together as being weird, you know. DUFFIELD: Well, not in contemporary times. CONDOLORA: Well, and you know, maybe one of them isn’t perfect. But that's perfectly fine, you know, right? So that her. It wasn't her direct boss. Who was her boss's boss was having a Christmas party. And she, of course, outed me to everybody at work. Without telling me she was gonna do that. And I'm like. Oh my God, you did what? DUFFIELD: You can laugh about it now. CONDOLORA: I can laugh about it now, but it's. The time I was like, why in the world would? You tell those. And know me, you know? Going out and telling them about me. That I'm like transitioning and I'm transgender. Are you crazy? But so this is probably this like months after that but. Her boss's boss was having this big Christmas party and invited her and all the people that she worked with to the party, and she said I want you to go as Julie. And I'm like, really. And she said, yeah, why not? Why shouldn't you? No, I'm like, I guess not. I guess there's no reason why I shouldn't. I'll tell you; I was probably more nervous for that than anything else that I had done up to that point. That would just seem like. A crazy thing for me to do. DUFFIELD: OK. CONDOLORA: That and jury duty were the two things I think were the kind of like seemed to me to. Be like craziest things that I could possibly do. But I did it. And everybody there was fine. You know, it was. It was university people, so they were. I don't know. I don't know if that all university people are liberal. DUFFIELD: But I mean, not everybody. But not everybody knows. If they are liberal, you know it's like. You would, you would assume people know things at certain points, but even in 2013 or 2014, you’re kind of looking around going, oh, maybe, maybe not. CONDOLORA: Yeah, but at any rate, they were. All very you know, a couple of them complimented me and. So it turned out to be alright. It was not really the most comfortable night, though. It wasn't like the concert because it was. You know, I'm kind of an introvert to start with, so I probably would have been terribly well-being there anyway. Even without being in, I I'm not going to say in drag in dress, I probably wouldn't have been comfortable. They're not dressed up, you know. DUFFIELD: I mean, either way, you know, it's just you're kind of it's it's a. CONDOLORA: Yeah, well, a crowd of people. And for the most part, I didn't know. But I they weren't like. Even friends of my wife’s for that matter, they're just coworkers, you know, so. DUFFIELD: Yeah, I mean and. And at that point, they don't really even. Know you know you. Personally, were you introducing? Yourself as Julie the whole time. OK. And that's a stupid question actually, I'm sorry. If you were thinking about it then. How were you feeling after events like? CONDOLORA: Well, again, it was pretty affirming for me because it's like this is gonna be my new life at that point. I had decided this was going to be my new life and that was it's mostly just that I was beginning to feel like my new life was not going to be a disaster like I thought it was. It was gonna be perfectly fine and. You know, maybe even better than fine. You know, it's not gonna be, you know. The this whole idea that everybody's looking at you and talking behind your back was not a reality. DUFFIELD: OK. So what you had built up over so many years turned out not to be true at all. OK. And did that great fear just kind of melt away? CONDOLORA: I mean over the the next probably. I don't know, probably like the first couple of years of my transition. I would say all those fear totally went away and I really started to gain a lot of self-confidence where you know, if the occasional thing happened to me, it just really didn't matter, you know. Somebody called me Sir in the store or something, whatever. DUFFIELD: Or something like that would be like. Whatever glasses, buddy. I know you from that period. I mean tangentially, like we we've known each other almost for seven years now, but it's like. In different circles, right? If I'm to think about. It I would think you would, you've. Always been in my mind a very powerful and outspoken person like you're ohh. But I'm and I don't know you personally that well, but I see you in the world and the way I perceive you is as a person whose leading others, leading people at rallies, talking about visibility days. Were those sorts of skills and. Sorts of things that you learned at that time, or did those develop over time? CONDOLORA: Ohh, there would definitely be things I learned at that time. I mean before. You know, as a guy, I was probably the most quiet person you've ever met in your life. I mean, really, I wouldn't consider. I can't even imagine what kind of support group I would have went to, but I didn't join anything. DUFFIELD: It seem we could, continue. CONDOLORA: I was just going to say, I guess. I was on the. In college, my first time I went to college. I was on the. Student council, but that was more by accident than anything else.Yeah, but I. DUFFIELD: Also, recall from your first your first interview you mentioning that that was one of the. Best times of your life most self-actualized, I think, is the word because you had a role you did things and you had a great group of friends. I mean, I guess that would be true of everybody, but there's a renaissance around. That that time. CONDOLORA: Yeah, but I didn't. I didn't go into that with the purpose of. Joining or trying to make a difference, so it's just kind of on a whim and. I never, you know, it was one of those things that just kind of happened. It was, yeah. DUFFIELD: Right. CONDOLORA: There's there's things that you do in your life where you like, really want them, and you plan for them, and you really try for it. And there's other things. That just fall in your lap, you know sometimes this that was afall in the lap kind of thing. DUFFIELD: I mean coming out and imagining and creating a new life is very different than just having student someone telling you to run for student council and you go and do it. But at the same time, I sense that same level of leadership that you talked about and you mentioned the social committees when you were in that as well and as a younger person in nine. In in the 1970s, in student council like. You were in the social comma. And you find those sorts of things, if I'm not mistaken, but. CONDOLORA: So yeah, I think you are mistaken. DUFFIELD: OK, my bad. But I'm trying to imagine like how this period of time. Felt for you. I just like from 2013 to 2015. So how did it feel? CONDOLORA: It just felt like an amazing growth period like. It was really a rebirth. Like coming out of a out of an egg shell or something, I don't know. It was definitely a rebirth. I mean, I was doing things that I couldn't even imagine ever even thinking about doing, like going to that party. I mean, I would have. I would have never even considered that it would have. Even even two years before that. DUFFIELD: I mean just inch. Just a short amount of time, right? So tell me what? Like after 2014 and 2015 like so, where does life go? Are are you still not out of work at that point? CONDOLORA: I'm not out of work. I'm not out at work until I change my name. DUFFIELD: Until 2016. CONDOLORA: Yeah, that's when I decided well, it's and that's really when I feel my transition really began because. I was still. I don't want to say I was pretending, but I was still hiding to some extent. You know, I still still afraid of coming out. I was still afraid, you know? I still had some. Well, I definitely had reservations about it. I thought that my business would suffer greatly. You know, there's a lot of fear about that. You know, obviously it's one it you know for one thing at least when you're in business for yourself. You don't have to. Like, go out and look for a job, but right. And you have a lot of people that may not want to hire you because of who you are. So it's kind of the same thing, but you know, I I'm I'm really fortunate that I never had to apply for a job where I had a. Where they said, well, what's your work history and? And at that point, you pretty much have to come out because you can't say I work for so and so because that person had a different name. You know what I mean, right. So, but I did worry greatly that my business would would just go down. DUFFIELD: Do you think that was a real possibility? CONDOLORA: I did because I work for mostly architects and. And I did a lot of work for a particular builder. And I mean a real lot of work for that one. Builder and you. Know all by himself if he quit using me out that that would have been probably at least 30 or 40% of my work would have been. Just immediately gone. To find something to replace that and I think some of the architects. I worried about. Too, because and it wasn't so much. I wasn't so much worried about them accepting me as I had to look at it like, you know, they're also working for somebody else, which is the client. In the end, and what is the client? Is the client gonna say? Yeah, you know, are they going to be reluctant to present me to their client and say this is who I want you to use to build your custom cabinets and. You know, I thought there was a pretty good chance that a lot of those. People would say I don't want to do that. And I also did some work for designers. I thought that they would be pretty OK with it? That they would, you know, some of them. I just suspected they were gay and I'm not really sure. I didn't ask them. But and then I also had the people that that I was currently working on their projects. You know what, you know they would have. Been stuck with me one way or the other but. In the end, it was really a the designers were the most disappointing ones of the group. They were the ones that pretty much most of them let me go. DUFFIELD: Ohh wow, when did that happen? CONDOLORA: Well, it happened over a period of time. I just never got any jobs from them anymore. You know, they would call me all the time. Do you want you have time to do this, or you want to look at this or you want to bid on this and? You know, I remember one of them in particular. She initially said, Ohh, that's wonderful, I’m really suporrtive you know. So, you know, I'm really supportive, blah blah, blah. But then never heard from her ever again. DUFFIELD: Did you call her back? CONDOLORA: No, no. The surprising thing, you know, I mean the like I said, the one builder that I didn't like probably 30-40% of my work for. I didn't hear from him initially. I did this via e-mail. So I emailed everybody at the same time on the same day. Basically, I just sent out a group e-mail to all these people and said; here is my new name blah blah blah I’m transitioning, you know. I suspect some of them may have, you know already. You know, since my hair is getting longer, there was, there was probably hints there certainly, but. I worried about that builder a lot and but you know, it took him a couple days to get back to me. And I was sweating it out and, you know, said, you know, we're fine with this, you know, happy for you, you know, as long as you still do the same work you do good work and we will keep working with you so then you know he almost immediately. That was probably a couple of weeks later, he. Introduce me to one of their somebody who was doing work on their house and introduced me as Julie and brought me in so those people didn't know me as the other person at all, which was, you know. All of a sudden, I said. Well, this is nice. You know, now that there's no confusion, although he kind of misgendered me about a dozen times after that, I forgave him because he was, like, supportive, you know? And it was like one of those things. It's just gonna take time. And and the people were very nice to me, you know? It's one of the better jobs I ever did so. DUFFIELD: So overall I mean. You came out after your name change, right? CONDOLORA: Yeah, that's when I decided to change my name and I said, you know, I can't, you know, point. I got it either. Do it or not do it. So, I've changed my name. I mean, there's no point in trying to hide who I am. And I'm just right. At some point, they'll probably find out anyway. I mean, maybe some of my documents would have my other name on it. DUFFIELD: Were you presenting full time in in your private life? CONDOLORA: Yes, in my private life, yes, but at work no. DUFFIELD: At work you were still. You were still presenting as John in your in your dead name and at work until. That point was it a dust, so after that? Did you start presenting as Julie only? CONDOLORA: Yes, that was it. That's when I feel like my transition began. Then they could start thinking about other things you know. DUFFIELD: What other things? CONDOLORA: Surgeries and things like that. DUFFIELD: Ah, I see. So until that point. Until after name change, you weren't presenting full time, and so that's the point where you say your transition really began because. Then you could. Feel look at the medical transition and then look at the support systems afterwards, yeah. Did that feel different or strange or just kind of like, well, I'm glad I got that. CONDOLORA: Yeah, it was a relief. Honestly, it was just. You know, it's kind of, I'd have to say that leaving that dual life is harder than then not doing it at all almost, because it was like Woof. I remember at one point being on a job and somebody saying something about Caitlyn Jenner or something like that and I was like, do I have to go over here and beat people up? But you know, I mean, I wasn't out at the time or anything, you know? And yeah, I was almost everywhere in the world, but not out at work. DUFFIELD: No, but I mean like. CONDOLORA: The hard you know it makes it hard because you know you're still hiding. It's still hiding. It doesn't matter that you're not. Not really yourself, you're just mostly yourself at that point. DUFFIELD: Yourself outside of the outside, the focus of life, right? Which? Is work and in some places and sometimes but. So at that point you've transitioned at work and you've transitioned in your personal life and your presenting as Julia and who you are in every aspect, right. Did your work suffer at all? Or were there? Do you said that there were most clients who did it drop off overtime? Or did it change in any regard? CONDOLORA: It didn't suffer at all. No, I mean, there were a few people I never heard from again, but I it wasn't like I had so much work at that point in time. It didn't really matter, you know, I mean, I turned down a lot of jobs, too. It wasn’t like you took every job that came in the door. So not not having some of those jobs. Didn't really matter. Maybe I wouldn't even have taken them if they did comment, you know things. Can only work so many hours a week. DUFFIELD: Tell me about it. It's it's like. So, coming out to your employees not a problem at all? CONDOLORA: My employees well. One of them .I actually I came out to one of long before I came out to the world. I came out to like my professional world. All the builders and stuff like that. And he he was initially OK with it. But he did eventually quit, and I'm not sure. Exactly why he did. I had one other one that was not. Well, I've had. I had a couple of them quit and I'm not really. I can't really say why because they didn't. Say I quit because you're weird or you're trans or anything like that. ButI kind of wondered. One of them said something to to 1. Of my other workers about it that led me to believe that that's why they quit. After that you know. What I just found people that were accepting. And happy to work for me. And it that's just the way it is. You know. DUFFIELD: Ok. So as we begin to wrap up this last part like. Tell me a little bit about. How you changed in regards to that? It sounds like your life took kind of just these radical changes. I mean I don't think we even last about name change process like how did that work for you? CONDOLORA: What do you mean? DUFFIELD: Well, So what did you have to go through? Or when did you decide to do it? CONDOLORA: Well, well, I did it. And I don't know when I decided to do it, but I did in 2016, it probably took me like three or four months to get it accomplished, it was a little more complicated when I did it, I had to go to. I had to get well, you still have to get the fingerprinting done. But it they didn't. I don't think that fingerprinting service was available then. So I went actually went to the Police Department and got my fingerprints. Submitted them to the FBI, which took like 3 months to. Come back and. I headed to I don't know if I had to, but I did post it in the newspaper for three days so that I could get through that part of that process. And I had to go to court and then stand up in front of the judge and all that. It was all I I don't know. It was a lengthy process. It cost a little bit of money, but it wasn't terribly bad. I mean, it wasn't. I never thought it was that awful to go through all that. I mean, the reward was so much worth over so much or worthwhile then. DUFFIELD: And after that process you had, you said you felt this great sense of relief. CONDOLORA: Yes, I mean I really remember sitting out in front of the courthouse that day and just it was like the last the last little thing where they actually give you the paper. And it was like ohh God, it's so wonderful. DUFFIELD: So I have in my notes 3 periods of relief in such a short amount of time. A great big social party, a concert where you're just accepted as a woman with and having a girls night out and then a name change in 2016. And that's when your transition really, really begins, yeah. CONDOLORA: I think so, you know, I mean, you could look, I mean, I think everybody points to theirs beginning in different ways, you know, like some people say, well, when I started hormones, that's when I started to transition. Or you know, just maybe when they came up with the concept that I was going to transition is when I started to transition or. And and then I don't know whether maybe confirmation surgery is when they feel like they've transitioned. I don't know. For me it would. I I point to that point when I said OK. At this point on, I'm never going to be this other person anymore. I have a new name, everybody knows about it, and whether or not they accept it or not is their problem, not mine and. So, this is who I'm going to be from now on. And that to me is when I began my transition. DUFFIELD: When everything had changed. But yet did you yourself, I mean at the core of who you are. Were you changing at the same time or were you similar more? I mean, maybe that doesn't make any sense. I guess the question is throughout that process, how did you change? At the core of your being. CONDOLORA: Ohh I think I just. Well, I you know. All these these things led to like a little bit more confidence in myself so. You know that that was. I'm not sure, I'm not sure really how bad. Was there anything about myself really changed? But I I do know that. My confidence level changed. You know, maybe. Maybe once my name changed and I went full time is that I thought that, you know, anybody that doesn't accept me from this point on is their problem, not mine. Or maybe before it was always like I have to convince everybody this. And now I no longer have to convince the other people. I don't really care what they think, this is who I am. DUFFIELD: So then it became less about. Less about how others will perceive you. CONDOLORA: Yeah. You know, make a little bit more about some physical changes that I wanted to make and to become more. I don't know complete. DUFFIELD: Perfect. So, Julia, I don't have a I only have a few more minutes today, but would you consent to a fourth edition. Sure. I mean, we've been talking all summer, but is there anything we haven't talked about today maybe in that period from 2000 to 2015 that you feel like you really want to talk about? CONDOLORA: I don't know, maybe a little bit more about the GIC and that stuff because I think we kind of touched on that a little bit, but some of the relationships with the people that I met from there that had a lot to do with things too and. DUFFIELD: Would it be OK if we begin there next time? So, some of the relationships, so we'll have to figure out. Like what is the cast of characters of the GIC at that point look like? How do you fit in? What are some of the first things you're going on? The deepest relationships. And what do they mean to you? Alright, I'm going to stop recording. Oh, and by the way, thank you for doing this third part I appreciate it a great deal.

DUFFIELD: Alright, today is November 7th, 2021. My name is David Duffield. I am here with Julia Condolora interviewing her for her 4th edition in her oral history series. Today we're going to talk about kind of the relationships at the Gender Identity Center, which was on Mississippi, if I'm not mistaken, when you started going there and then that period of time after 2015, so you were just telling me a moment ago that Karen Scarpello was one of the most important influences with you when you were on the Events committee, is that correct?

CONDOLORA: Yes, because when I, so I'll go back and start that little process over again. I initially, when I got on the board, I was just an at large member Sherri Proctor was the Events committee chair at the time and I was on the Events committee as well. And when a few months after, Sherry resigned from the board and I became by default, the chair of the Events Committee and which meant I was kind of in charge of all the events. And I didn't really have very much experience with any of that kind of stuff. And you know, I got a less support from the other board members as far as running the events and other people in the organization. But the thing that Karen did was she really kind of pushed me to do things that I was. I don't want to say reluctant, but reluctant might. Might be a good word. And you know to go out and be out there and to do things that you know, even engaging with the CIS community and doing some events that, you know, I I guess maybe I I could say I was a little uncomfortable with it first, but my growth from that was tremendous. It really, it proved to me that I could live in the world as a trans woman and I could engage and do these things, and I could you know, be the I don't want to use the word. I'm looking for the right word for this because I want to be useful and. Want to be. A person that's going to make some kind of mark in the world, not, you know, not I don't want to be important, but I don't also just want to exist. I didn't go through all this just to be just to exist and be a trans woman. You know, I want to make it easier for all the other trans people. In the world, and I also. You know, I pretty much stayed in my little closet and my. Before I was very. Comfortable in my role, I didn't branch out from it at all. I certainly would never have ever seen me speak in public or just do some of the things that that I was able to do while I was at the GIC and I really credit Karen with helping me to get to that point.

DUFFIELD: So, who was she? And where did you start working with her in the events committee?

CONDOLORA: Well, she was the executive director of the GIC. And you know, mostly she ran the, clinic… clinical end of things, she was the one that kind of developed the whole clinical side of it, she was able to bring in interns from a lot of Schools and they would come there and do internships and she did all, managed all the counselors and all that kind of stuff. She didn't really. Well, I think she probably also had. A lot to do with. The day-to-day running of things, but she didn't. As far as the events that was up to the board to handle that. I Think in fact, you know, even like at pride events and stuff like that. I don't think I ever saw Karen that maybe once or twice, she wasn't like always out there and she did push me to be out there. So that was that was great in my growth.

DUFFIELD: So, when are we talking about in terms of events, what year? Do you remember?

CONDOLORA: I think it was 2016. I think that was. It was like a kind of big, huge year for me. I think that's when I got on the board. And you know, so like all the pride events we used to do, Denver, of course, and Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Boulder. And so, I was always at the. The tent through all of those passing out literature and talking to people. We also did a few events of our own like we used to have a luau once a year and we would do. Ohh, I don't know we had. Some surgeons come out and speak and. Stuff like that. So those things needed to be. And of course, there was tea door too. That was probably our biggest event of the year and you know, there is catering to be managed and all kinds of stuff.

DUFFIELD: So when you're at these events in different places because it sounds like it's pretty active. Who are you talking to? How are you feeling?

CONDOLORA: Well, like a like again. Like I said, this is where maybe I got pushed a
little bit because at first, you know, like pride events are easy because they're mostly either gay people or at least people that are gay friendly, LGBTQ friendly, you know, they're not probably, you know, a lot of the times, even with those people, I had to spend a lot of time explaining what the various things were like transgender and gender, fluid or non-binary these were like new terms for a lot of people at the time, including me. And I kind of lost my train of thought, but. Ohh the you know like one other event that we did every year was of the peoples fair and that was a different crowd. There would be occasionally a few LGBTQ people there, but it was primarily just people. Peoples Fair people. And they did have like one little nonprofit section went much smaller than what you would see at Denver Pride. But you know, it was interesting. I mean, I had a couple of pastors come up to talk to me about how evil I was and things like that. So yes, yes, that did happen. And so that was not such an easy event to do. And I've probably, you know, without a little. Encouragement would have never even considered doing something like that, but it all worked out. And really I'm I'm more thankful to have done that event and some others than I was to do the price because they were just kind of pretty easy for the most part. Another event she had me do, it was during the day, so I had to take off from work to do it and it was supposed to be me and a couple of interns. Well, it turned out it was just me, alone and she you know, she said, “go ahead, you can do this you can do this.” and everything. And it was, I'm trying to remember who put I think Century Link was the one to put it on and it was called, “Women in Tech.” And so I'm tech-nically illiterate, and so, and the GIC was not a tech. You know all the other people there were involved in tech. In some way or another, you know, and they were women and some of them were. Quite influential women, especially like the keynote speakers and such. So, I'm not really sure what we were doing there, but we were invited there and so I went with our table and passed out literature and talked to people about, you know, the Gender Identity Center and what we did and. It was, in the end was a very rewarding experience. I did two years in a row.

DUFFIELD: How is it rewarding then?

CONDOLORA: It was rewarding because even though I was there. Obviously saying I'm a trans woman because of the organization I was working for, you know, then the name, Gender Identity Center doesn't necessarily spark that idea in a cis person’s head right away, you know? So, I was just there as a woman. Just like all the other women there, and for that, it was very rewarding, and people didn't. Again, it wasn't like. You know, some people were not like, super receptive to me, but other people were, like, very receptive and it it just the the reward was finding out that again, I could live in the world and be somebody in the world as a trans woman and not be hiding at home.

DUFFIELD: So that's a pretty profound thing to feel, was it the first time you had felt that?

CONDOLORA: I think the first time was really at the People’s fair being at the people because that that came quite a bit before that. Because again, that was. You know, I never felt unsafe there, but it wasn't. It was being out in the world as a trans woman that in a place among mostly CIS people.

DUFFIELD: How did you navigate the conversations with the people that said you were evil?

CONDOLORA: Well, I got in a very long conversation with a person who told me now what exactly were the words he called himself a “Super Christian” and you know, he started off with the, you know, the gays evil. It's right in the Bible saying gay is evil. And I said, well, you know. I said I'm a trans woman and it says nothing in the Bible about transgender women or people changing gender or people doing anything so. What do you have to say to that? and he thought about it for a long time, and he said, you know what, you're right, there isn't anything in there. But then he went back into his spiel about how evil and. Ohh he he had some things to say about AIDS and how it was God's wrath and all that kind of sick stuff. You know, if I could, I probably would have just punched him, but I kept my mouth shut and just let him ramble on and then he left. And I did have some people come by. This one really strange person. Wheeled buy me in one of those motorized wheelchairs and it says something on the yes, he was carrying around some sign about nuclear power or nuclear weapons or something. But just as he went by, he said. If you're born a man, you're a man kind of thing, you know? So there, there was some ugliness occasionally. But you know, I also had some like, you know, like, here's the rewarding thing that, and I really remember this because a couple came up to me. And they said Well, we didn't know you were anything about this organization, and I told them what we. Did and if it turns out that they had a trans child, and we had a program then for trans children. I think it meant like every other Saturday or something like that. And the parents could stay. In one area and they had the kids go in another area and when I told them about that, I mean. They were so delighted to know that. You know, they could do something for their kid that would enhances life and that. So that kind of stuff was amazing, really. And it made like the occasional ugly things worthwhile. And it just it was so worthwhile. But it took away all the other stuff, and that was at the Peoples fair, it wasn't at pride.

DUFFIELD: Did you find yourself having more and more conversations at those events with people who were grateful for? I mean, like, like, like with the parents, I suppose.

CONDOLORA: You know, not a tremendous a lot, amount, because actually most people will walk by and they look and they, you know, almost seem a little confused by it. You know, there was those, you know, they said, you know, and people would thank us for being there. You know, there wasn't. Wasn't always that there, you know, it wasn't always like a changing moment, like it was with that couple that, I mean, I think that probably changed their life in some way or another. But, you could tell some people were just thankful to see, see you there, see you out and.

DUFFIELD: How long were you doing these events for?

CONDOLORA: Well, really, you know, actually I would say the. I helped Sherry out a few times, even before I was. On the board. Like probably in 2015 or something like that. But that was more just, you know, drop by, and sit for a while and. You know that would be that. But I think. The GIC closed in November of 18. I think that's when we, when we finally went to the Transgender Center of the Rockies, where we went, actually went through a kind of interim period where we were just. Hobos hanging out, hanging out at Mile High behavioral healthcare. So that would have been fully two years.

DUFFIELD: So, what did it mean to you when you were having conversations like with the parents, how did that feel for you?

CONDOLORA: Well, it felt wonderful. I mean, I don't know. It's just it's just, it felt wonderful and rewarding. Rewarding is probably the best word.

DUFFIELD: Rewarding in what way?

CONDOLORA: Well, knowing who's making a difference, you know, I mean. There's a part of me that regrets all the years that I was either ignorant of things or didn't understand, or. Didn't open my eyes to things that were around me, and when I finally decided it was time to come out and, you know, be part of this community. Almost immediately I felt like, you know, I going to do something to so other people aren't going through this.

DUFFIELD: There ever come a point in your head where you're like, you look around and you, you kind? Of looked at the state of the world, maybe topics like violence against trans people, or especially during TDOR where you were kind of questioning or it it caused you some sort of pause.

CONDOLORA: I'm not sure if I really understand the question you mean.

DUFFIELD: Let me clarify. So TDOR is Transgender Day of Remembrance, right?


DUFFIELD: And when did that occur? I think it was in I forget in 2016 because I was there with you at East High School or maybe it was 2017. But how did that event unfold? What was it about?

CONDOLORA: Well, that you know. They have been doing that event long before I ever became part of the GIC, so. And I'll be honest with you, once I started doing the event, it was more about planning it and everything else to really it was until the night of the event it was hard to really grasp all of what was going on. And then it becomes a very emotional thing, you know? And even like, so I haven't had as much to do with event planning at the TCR, but I have been on the, you know, doing the being on that committee. So, the event this year is going to be at. With the botanical gardens. And so I was. I went ahead and compiled all the names and pictures and a little something about the people. And I have to tell you, I mean, there's times that I just started crying and doing that it because it is very emotional. I mean, it's just such an awful thing, the violence. So unnecessary, and most of these people are so young that you know, they haven't even started life yet. You know, a lot of them, they say, well, we don't know much about this person. They were misgendered when they were actually found dead or found murdered. So there was a there's a lag between the time when the murder happened and and the time when they said ohh well, this was a trans person. Sometimes the media refuses to accept it, even though. You know it's out there. Continues to dead name people and misgender them. So for it to be called a hate crime. You know it needs to the it's important that they get it right, right from the beginning. There seems to be a really also a lack of caring amongst the police about that too.

DUFFIELD: Sorry my microphone. When you say lack of carrying by the police, why do you think that might be?

CONDOLORA: Transphobia. You know, they don't really, yeah, obviously it doesn't affect them one way or the other to sit to, to use, she or he. when describing a person that was just murdered, you know it doesn't cost him anything to say. You know, and you can use the dead name. You know you. You can use the dead name and follow it up with the person's preferred name if, if. If it's that important that you use their name. Their legal name, which is what they a lot of times fall back on well. That's their legal name but you can also say also known as and this person was a trans woman and and call it a hate crime when it is.

DUFFIELD: Were there cases like that in Denver or in Colorado that you remember?

CONDOLORA: Before I was out, there was some cases, but I think last year there was there was a case in. I'm trying to. Remember exactly where in Colorado, somewhere on the West Slope. A trans woman was killed by police, and it was not reported as a trans woman until a couple weeks later for the same exact reason.

DUFFIELD: Because they didn't respect her, her, her chosen name. Her name. Transgender Day of remembrance usually occurs in November or December. Is that correct?

CONDOLORA: It's November 20th.

DUFFIELD: November 20th. Excuse me. And every year for a long time now, it's been going on for almost 30 years. Maybe 20 years?

CONDOLORA: No, it's about 30. I think it was. Not exactly. You know, I should know this, but I I thought it might have been 1992 or something like that.

DUFFIELD: That's sounds about right to me. In Denver's case in. You helped to run and create TDOR in in Denver for Two or three years. What event, what? What effect did that have on the community in Denver?

CONDOLORA: I don't know. I Really don't know. No, I would. I know I would see people there that normally I never saw. That would come out for that event.

DUFFIELD: Such as?

CONDOLORA: You know, I'm not going to name any names, but they're people that, trans women that were not, they're out, you know, I mean, they've transitioned, they're living their life. Some people, you know, once they complete their transition, they're not part of the community as much anymore.

DUFFIELD: Why is that?

CONDOLORA: Well, you know. I mean, it's like what's your end goal when you transition? is to become who you've always meant to be. And once you've become that, your done. You know, you just wanting to live your life as a woman or as a man or, and I respect that. That you don't have to. If you want to call yourself a man or a woman and not put the prefix trans in front of it, it's your right.

DUFFIELD: Well, can we pause for just a moment?


DUFFIELD: Tell me a little bit about what TDOR was when you were conducting. So where were they? What were they like?

CONDOLORA: Let's see, I think the. That I was involved it was at West High School. And then the second year, it was at East High School. I think at East High School again the third year. Before that, it was at a church, and I wasn't involved in the planning of that at all.

DUFFIELD: Remember where the church was.

CONDOLORA: You know, I didn't even go that year, so. It was as I recall, though I think it was outside someplace in Jefferson County, and it was snowing. I think as I recall, it was something, something like that. It wasn't like an indoor event.

DUFFIELD: What would the program look like at the one at West or East High school?

CONDOLORA: So this was, more of what this is kind of Karen, I'm sorry. Karen's idea about it, she wanted to make it a little more of a community event and a little less about just reading the names and going home, so we would have some performers, some keynote speakers. And then, like a community, there's there was community area where we could eat and we would provide some food and drinks. And so after the event, everybody could mingle and get together. And then after that so, I’m trying to think what happened in 2019. Maybe it was 17, 18 and 19 were the three. Ohh I am so bad with my brain and my dates. I know that the last couple of years it's been virtual. And it's been, The Center on Colfax and the TCR kind of combined forces to put on a virtual event. And maybe that was just last year.

DUFFIELD: Probably I remember it being in 2019 at the Denver Health.

CONDOLORA: That's right, that's right. Thank you you have. A better memory than me. That's why I'm so bad with dates and times and everything. It's all a blur, you know, I have a whole lifetime worth of numbers in my head and I know. They don't always come out the way they're supposed to.

DUFFIELD: So in my view of those experiences, they were powerful because they had, let's see, 2017 and 18, they had a slam poet. They had a speaker, they did the candles, they did the names. My feeling walking away from it was that there were people who were pretty profoundly impacted by it, like it was a place to name and then there were and then there was always for me the youth, right? So that was something that was new, was how many young people were attending them were like young were, you know, 16, 15 years old or students at the high school or in Denver Public Schools. And they were profoundly impacted by by the show of community. And then you know, it was like they were. The effect was the community sort of came together and then created a sense of itself, which it didn't always have in public spaces, right? So, like, there weren't a lot of public places for people just to be in the trans community just to be trans and be in a room and eat and talk amongst each other. There were few places like that going back even when they were. I don't even know when GIC stopped doing gold rush, but that was the big fundraiser they had for years and years. But it seems to me like those places were really. Kind of needed and essential.


DUFFIELD: In your experience with, has there always been a lack of those then or like public spaces to be trans?

CONDOLORA: Um, Yeah. Well, I don't know. You know, for so many years, I wouldn't even think about doing anything that would been in the public. So if those things occurred, I wasn't a part of them. I remember reading about Gold Rush and it was the last one. It was at the Renaissance on Quebec Street. And it was right by where I where my shop was. And I kept thinking, you know, I should go over there to that I should go over to there, but I didn't.

DUFFIELD: And that Renaissance has always been a big place. They have a lot of drag shows and gender illusion shows and that sort of thing, but they've also created spaces for trans people throughout the years I've been to, they had a parenting conference there a year and a half ago, which was really informative. But going back to TDOR, I mean like the big effect of TDOR in your how would you describe the big effect of TDOR?

CONDOLORA: It's multiple things; anger and sadness. It's how it affects me anyway. It's anger that these things are even happening, you know. And it's sadness that they're happening. It's sadness for the lives that are lost it, you know, as I said, they're mostly very young people, not all of them, but mostly very young. You know, part of me keeps saying, well, the the younger generation is so much more accepting and they're. You know, maybe the the people doing the violent stuff are not young, who knows? You know, so. You know, the reality is, is that that it continues to happen and it's really continuing to happen really to black women. Primarily those are the ones that are suffering all this.

DUFFIELD: You read about the statistics of some thousands or hundreds being killed in some cases every year. I think in 2018 there were. Or dozens in some cases. But it's it's not the numbers, it's the circumstances and that surround it, you know, they were, quote UN quote discovered to be a trans woman and then subjected to violence. Are there names and stories that stick? Out to you.

CONDOLORA: Ohh, from this year there is a a trans man and his nonbinary sister. They were both killed by their mother. The trans man was, and maybe I should call it a trans teen. He was just in his teens.

DUFFIELD: Why were they killed?

CONDOLORA: You know that. Was unclear in anything that I read.

DUFFIELD: Here in Colorado?

CONDOLORA: No, this was I think in Ohio, Ohio or Pennsylvania. I could look it up. If you'd like.

DUFFIELD: Later, But when you're thinking about those stories like. The question is why? Why so much in my mind? Is it similar?

CONDOLORA: Yeah and it it's not. It's not a curve that's going down, it's a curve that's going up. 46 people this year, I think.

DUFFIELD: Is there a I mean, there's always the question of why. I mean, I have no idea, except for fear.

CONDOLORA: Well, I think I read someplace, that the majority of trans people are killed with a gun. And the majority of them are killed by someone that they know. It's either a lover, a former lover, or someone in their family, something like that.

DUFFIELD: So, do you think there's any sort of lack of accountability on the police or is it just another part of the American gun culture in some places?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't know if you could blame the police for not for not preventing it for doing not doing enough to prevent these things from happening.

DUFFIELD: You probably can.

CONDOLORA: Definitely part of the gun culture. It's it's just not. It's a lot, you know, and sometimes they don't even know who killed the person. I remember reading about one woman that was. They found her dead in her car, shot multiple times. You know, nobody knows what precipitated that or why that happened.

DUFFIELD: So, there's this feeling of being unsafe that it inspires. Is that a general feeling within the Community too?

CONDOLORA: Well, if I was a black woman, I would have to, I'm certain I would feel that every minute of the day. Now and if I was young, I'd probably feel it as well, but. I have a certain privilege of being an older trans woman that I think. You know, I've seen it as less of a threat. I'm not seen as a sex object. I'm not seen as. Yeah, I'm pretty invisible for the most part. I don't really feel fear like that, even you know when I'm out in the public by myself, I don't just don't. Maybe I should but, I don’t.

DUFFIELD: I guess we can hope that it will change, but what really needs to happen for it to change for the for this all to to stop?

CONDOLORA: You know, I don't know. I mean it's. This country at this point in time, is so polarized. Overall, and I think you know, I I have to think that some of the people that are committing these crimes. I'm I'm not sure if they're just. Normally, violent people or I don't I don't know. And you know the gun thing that's never going to change, in my mind, even if they made guns illegal tomorrow, there's still billions of guns in the world. And some of the some of the people were killed, other by other means, so that that wouldn't stop you from killing somebody. I, you know, education would be something, I think. The representation that trans women in general are getting is better. So maybe that'll have a good effect.

DUFFIELD: So, it follows that the cycle is. Is representation education and fear, yeah. So maybe the hope is then. Or the action should be rooted in in education, yeah.

CONDOLORA: I think so and you know positive representation. But you know any, I think you know gay people for a while have. I mean, they're not totally accepted there's still a lot of hate around that, but that's gotten I, I don't know, maybe you would disagree with me, but that's gotten significantly better in the last 20 years. There's much less homophobia overall. And I think a lot of that has to do with education or, you know, and meeting people that are gay. You have a gay cousin or something like that and it changes your mind about those kinds of things.

DUFFIELD: Definitely I think visibility is the root of it, like the ability for people to, but this is all speculation. The ability for people to see others different from themselves, not just the popular culture, but in the world, and hear the story told, which is what this is all about. I don't know. I mean, the violence is is rooted in some parts of American culture, and that's a much larger conversation. No, I don't know that, that violence will go away, ever. It may be subject to generations of action. But that's going to be beyond the. Our work right now, but I think like educating kids is the first part of that.

CONDOLORA: Right. And honestly the younger generation is much more open to it. So maybe there's hope. And you know at this point maybe if we could just start to get the numbers to go in the down direction rather than the up direction. It would be. It would be something to be thankful for.

DUFFIELD: Let's return to the GIC. So who were some other folks that were involved you mentioned Karen, but were there others, young Karen Scarpitto.

CONDOLORA: Sean Turk was the president of the board when I was on it. And let's see. Beck was trying to remember if Beck was always the, but yeah, I think Beck was always the vice president while I was on the board until I became the Vice President. And of course, Sherry Proctor was on the board initially before she resigned. Who else we had? Had a little bit trouble with our treasures, we had probably like 3 treasurers. We always seem to have a new treasurer. That was a tough post to fill because you had to really be know something about numbers. Be kind of an accountant kind of person to do that job and. It demanded probably a lot more time than any. Other position on the board. So we had Grayson and we had. Trying to remember who else. Coming up with names at the moment.

DUFFIELD: OK, tell me about Sean.

CONDOLORA: Sean was an excellent president, you know Sean. He was charismatic, I would say so. He was a great speaker. He ran the meetings really well. Yeah, it was. I was influenced by Sean a lot. I think too. I saw him as being something to strive for. You know I'm not, but I'm not charismatic like that so. That's something that you can't learn how to be, I guess.

DUFFIELD: Public speaking I I don't know. It's one of those things. But again, like, what did Sean do?

CONDOLORA: Well, you know, he ran the meetings and.

DUFFIELD: Like outside of his life. Or the job.
CONDOLORA: Outside of the job. I don't know. I'm confused by the question.

DUFFIELD: Like like who was when he wasn't doing the board president job. What was he? What was his his like? Where did he come from?

CONDOLORA: You know I want to say he worked for an engineering firm or something like that. I know right now he's a professor at DU (Denver University), so how he made, He's also a very smart person. And he has a lot of kids.

DUFFIELD: So who are some other folks that you mentioned? Beck.

CONDOLORA: Beck is a non-binary person. They moved to Great Britain. They were a nurse or a physician assistant, I think. And they moved to Great Britain. So that's why they were no longer on the board. That's when Jessica Goodwin took over as president. And when I became vice president. So that kind of all happened about the same time. Sean no longer was going to be president. Beck was moving on. So, Jessie and I both ran for president, but Jessie got the job and I got Vice President.

DUFFIELD: When was that?

CONDOLORA: That was in 2000. Let's see. That would have been in 2000. It closed in 2018. In November. I'm trying to remember the election was probably in May of 2018.

DUFFIELD: Did you know that the that it was going to close six months later.

CONDOLORA: Oh, we didn't know it was going to close six months later, no when that all occurred.

DUFFIELD: So, I suppose we should ask what happened?

CONDOLORA: There were some disagreements among, you know, we also had a board of trustees. There was some disagreements on the board of trustees about some things. I'm not going to go into some of these things because it's just nobody's business. But there were some heated exchanges and Karen decided to resign. You know, honestly, Karen was really low paid for what she did. She just she came in and then handed in her resignation. And it was right after, I want to say. It was right after the board of Trustees meeting. They had they they would only meet, meet like once or twice a year and at their meeting she resigned. And so that began a search for another executive director, somebody that could run the clinical end of the organization and would have the licensing licensure to bill Medicaid, Medicare, Medicaid. And that turned out to be an impossible task, to be honest with you. For the amount of money that we could afford to pay somebody to do that. We had just moved into this great big new building. Without the money, we would be getting from Medicaid and the counseling program, there was no way we could ever get enough donations to keep the building. To pay the rent I mean, it was, it was a really nice place and we did have a big fundraiser and we I think we raised. I don't know like $37,000 or something like that, but it wasn't. It was only about half of what we were shooting for and it wasn't enough really to to keep it open and that event, you know, eventually we just kind of ran out of money. Well, we're the executive director that. And you know, as actually we needed executive director and a clinical director. I think we at one point decided, well, maybe we need to break up the job into two and.

DUFFIELD: Were there any promising candidates?

CONDOLORA: Not really.

DUFFIELD: So in other words, that was a big task. In retrospect, when you're looking back at it, had the GIC kind of not had enough funds for years at a time, or what was going on?

CONDOLORA: Ohh no we you know. The whole time I was at the GIC, we were like. We're like somebody that's living from paycheck to paycheck, basically. You know, we never we were never an organization that was flush with cash.

DUFFIELD: Why was that do you think?

CONDOLORA: I don't know, you know. Maybe we just didn't have the people in place. To to go out. And get the grants. Maybe the grants weren't available. You know, we lived off of donations and everybody there was a volunteer except for Karen. She was the only person that actually, and she wasn't really even an employee. She just got a stipend and it wasn't much.

DUFFIELD: Was that her only job?


DUFFIELD: So, as with many nonprofits, the inevitably the financial circumstances changed, yeah?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, you know what I think? We we outgrew our. Ability to raise money. In the end, that's really what happened. We we got a little bit too big. I think if we would have stayed on Huron St. which or found a a smaller place, we probably could have survived, but there's no way we could afford to continue paying rent in that large location.

DUFFIELD: Where was the large location.

CONDOLORA: That was on my God, on Bryant Street. 1st and Bryan Street. And basically, we're Mile High behavioral healthcare came in and started to show some interest in making, um helping us out, making us a part of their organization. They looked at. That place and said “no way, there's no way you're going to raise enough money.” You know, the lease that we had was going to be. Getting bigger and bigger, we had only been through the first year of the lease, which was, the cheap year. It was going to be a little bit bigger and eventually it was going to be a lot of money in 10 years and they didn't want to pick up that lease. You know, that was like the thing that they pretty much said, you know, we're willing to help you out, but we're not taking on your debt. So that's when we decided we needed to fold up. We reached out to some other organizations and. Really, all the other ones had pretty much no interest in partnering, you know, becoming a part of their organization or partnering with us or.

DUFFIELD: I would ask how difficult that must have been, but that seems like a stupid question. I would ask how you felt during that process.

CONDOLORA: Well, you know, it was kind of a little bit of a roller coaster at first because. Really initially people on the board of trustees started resigning like crazy when they realized that there might be some liability to them or whatever and. Really, we never really needed a board of trustees to start with and not really sure what that was all about. There were a few of us that really wanted to fight to try and keep it open. And so that's when we decided to do the Facebook fundraiser thing and I was very encouraged at first because the money was popping in like crazy at first. You know, a lot of people were donating and a lot of people donating some pretty good amounts. And you know, we're, our numbers were going up, up, up. But you know, once that leveled off, then it looked like it wasn't never going to get to the goal, I think where our goal was 75,000 or something like that and it was. Then then it started feeling like Ohh you know, now what you know and. Fortunately, Mile High behavioral health care came in. So some of the legacy lives on not much, but.

DUFFIELD: What doesn't live on?

CONDOLORA: You know the one. Thing that the GIC had was, it was all volunteers, it was all trans people, and it was well, I shouldn't say it wasn't all trans people because the interns weren't trans for the most part. But it was an all of our volunteer organization. It was, and it was a community space. It was open every day and people could go in there and people would they just go, you know, they just show up during the middle of the day and hang out for a while. It was very much more of a Community Center. Now, you know, of course, COVID would have changed that anyway. But you know right now. You know, TCR has never really had. That community thing. You know their involved in the big things TDOR and TDOR. And they still have the counseling that they're providing, which is something that's very needed in the trans community, of course. But as just a place to just show up, it hasn't really been that now. They did just open up Marshall's closet, which is, I would say is was a step in in the right direction. Towards that, because there are actual hours when people can just show up to get clothes. But it's still not quite the same as what the GIC had. Ohh and the support groups you know, they still run all the support groups. Which is also extremely important.

DUFFIELD: Tell me about. That the final moment when you realized you couldn't keep it open, and what eventually happened, you agreed to shut down the nonprofit. How did that feel?

CONDOLORA: That that was, it was awful. It was very sad. You know, I don't know, I guess. I guess I would have thought. On a little bit longer, you know. I I you know, I kept thinking maybe we could move into a smaller space and. As it turned out, you know, the biggest fear was what? What was our landlord going to do at Bryan Street? That was the biggest fear with that. Because we had still had like almost nine years left on a 10 year lease. Well, now you know. A little less than nine years on a 10 year lease. So it was, it was significant. And you know. We were afraid he was going to sue us and, you know that little bit of money that we had left, we're going to lose all that and everything else. But as it turns out, he never did come after us for the lease.

DUFFIELD: Why do you think that is?

CONDOLORA: I wonder if we could now just moved into a smaller space and kept it as the GIC and pared down the clinical program until we could find somebody that maybe could have run it on a part time basis out of the goodness of their heart or something like that, but no, it didn't happen.

DUFFIELD: Eventually, GIC winds down in what was it 2019 or 2020?

CONDOLORA: No, it's 2018. Well, that's when we voted to close it down. Or may have even been later than that. We moved out in November of [20]18. We moved out of Bryant St. What was left of the board stayed intact, which was only really, a couple people. For a few months after that, while we tried to work on some other way of I'm not exactly sure when it became the TCR. And might have even been a whole year later. So for a while we were just operating out of out of their space and really it was only support groups.

DUFFIELD: So what have you been up to since 2019 and 2020?

CONDOLORA: Well, I'm on the board of Mile High Behavioral Health Care so like.


CONDOLORA: You know, in that interim period, I would kind of try to do. My best to make sure that the support groups stayed open and going. Most of them were pretty self-sufficient that you know they just needed a place to meet they already, the facilitators were staying, doing their thing and. You know the basic premise of it was all the same, so it was. You know, it ran itself, really. And what else have I done? Well, I served on a few community boards, community advisory boards. I retired, went to Portland, and got my surgery. I did a lot of things.

DUFFIELD: I'm going to pause for just a second. So overall, it sounds like that was a pretty difficult period of time.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, we even though we had now an organization that was going to keep everything. It's basically going to be a different version of the GIC. It was difficult in that. You know, it's a it's a different type of organization. The way they do things was different than the GIC and it was. You know they have employees that run things and they're not volunteers. Both are really good and bad things. Probably mostly a good thing because they want to do something. People have to do it so like. You know the one bad thing about volunteers is like sometimes they don't volunteer. They don't show up.

DUFFIELD: MBH is a large organization anyway.

CONDOLORA: And you know the I remember the CEO asking me at one point he goes, “well, what are your fears?” You know, when we were kind of still talking about whether or not this thing was going to happen is what are your fears? And I said, well, I think I'm, I'm afraid that the GIC is just going to get absorbed. It's going to just, just be sucked up by your large organization and you know, I would say that's just what happened in the end because we lost the name. Which means we lost the history. In some ways, you know, I mean, you could say it's living on through this organization, but I don't, you know, to some extent, I think if you lose the name, you lose the history.

DUFFIELD: How does one recover from that loss, do you think? How do you recover from that loss, do you think?

CONDOLORA: Create just create new history. You know, come a bigger, better organization that can do the same thing better. I think that's how you handle that loss. I think that's achievable.

DUFFIELD: Do you feel like TCR will live up to GIC's legacy?

CONDOLORA: I think they can. Let me put it that way. I'm not sure if they will.

DUFFIELD: Do you think they can? The question is, how do you how do you think TCR can live up to the legacy of GIC?

CONDOLORA: Ohh, how can they? Well, you know they could expand their counseling program a lot more than they have right now. I know people are trying to get in there to see a therapist that are having some. Trouble with it, just because they're booked, they're booked up. I think that this year they've really taken on transgender day of remembrance in a way that they hadn't up until now. And they're going to make it a I think it's going to be a really good event this year. I think they could engage with the community a little bit more as far as like bringing in volunteers to do things. I mean, they tend to to just run it like they run every other part of their business with their employees. Currently, I think the only really volunteers there are the support group facilitators. I'd like to see more of that, I think. You know to be a part of the community, you got to take part in the community. I think they could do a better job of how they represent the trans community at Pride. If I’m just bring honest. I mean, they're there and they're present. But again, I mean we always had volunteers, people that went to the GIC in the booth we didn't have employees there I don't know. And there's nothing wrong with that per say, I mean. But sometimes they're not even. I've seen times where they weren't even all trans people in the booths. And it it to be honest, it's not. Just the TCR booth, It's mile highs and TCR booths, so I guess that's OK.

DUFFIELD: Visibility? Do you think that they could have a greater volunteer capacity and create visibility through more community action? When you look at other organizations, maybe like Queer Asterisk in Boulder who serve, which is founded by trans people for trans people. That may be a that's probably not the correct categorization. How do you feel about their services?

CONDOLORA: TCRs services?

DUFFIELD: No, no, no. Like. Queer asterisks in Boulder.

CONDOLORA: Oh Well, the only thing the only problem I would have with them and well, they do take Medicare, Medicaid, right, but they're kind of. When wouldn't you say they're kind of a for profit organization? Or are they a nonprofit?

DUFFIELD: I think there are nonprofits, but I don't know. They're certainly expanding the business quite a bit. They're very busy. Like that, there is an exceptional need for counseling and for support groups.


DUFFIELD: So I mean, I think that the the sense of it is is that. I honestly don't know.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't either. I don't know much about that organization, although I know people that are counselors there therapist there.

DUFFIELD: Though after you, after GIC closes down, you retired, is that correct?

CONDOLORA: Yes, I retired in 2019.

DUFFIELD: 2019 and then, so what's life been like since 2019?

CONDOLORA: Well, I love being retired. But you know, I don't know. I managed to stay pretty busy. I did recently start a part time job. You know, I've been. I still go to the support group a lot. I don't know what else I can say.

DUFFIELD: You got the confirmation surgery in 2020?


DUFFIELD: 2019, OK. And in general, it was I don't remember. You told me that
when you, there were, what, six weeks of recovery?

CONDOLORA: Ohh you know for me it was a little bit longer than that. So, I was in Oregon for five weeks. And then I came back here. I would say, you know my recovery period, it was at least a couple months. Before I was like feeling really good, it was probably more like 6 to 8 months.

DUFFIELD: You went on some trips back east to New York. Is that right? And after Oregon?

CONDOLORA: You mean after I had the surgery? Not until this year.

DUFFIELD: How did it feel returning after all those years? I mean, even though you've probably visited a lot since then?

CONDOLORA: I don't know that much different. You know, it doesn't change there much and you know, everybody is. I've been back there since I started transition so everybody there already knows about me or whatever. I mean, it wasn't a coming out story or anything? Although I did go to my 50th high school reunion that was, this last year.

DUFFIELD: How was that?

CONDOLORA: It was a little awkward.


CONDOLORA: Well, I went to an all boys Catholic school for high school. So in I was the only woman alumni there.

DUFFIELD: Any bad conversations or experiences?

CONDOLORA: No, not really. I think the people that might have, might have felt that way just ignored me. And some people were nice to me and that was it. You know, it's kind of it wasn't. Nobody was mean to let me put it there.

DUFFIELD: Oh no, super Christians arguing that you're evil, OK?

CONDOLORA: Surprisingly to me, because I was a little concerned that there might. Be some of that going on, but. Even, you know, even within the school itself, I mean. Even with the school people there but. No, they're all very nice to me.

DUFFIELD: Did you get a chance to go to your hometown?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, that's where my high school was.

DUFFIELD: What was it like as you were sort of going around town these last? How has it been different? Or if it has been different? Do you ever stop and think about? Places you were. Or reflect on who you were then and who you are now?

CONDOLORA: A little bit. You know, the one thing is that. In some areas. It's almost like time has stood still. You know, it's like everything is still exactly the same as when I was like a teenager. I'm going like, how is this even possible? You know, I could show you a picture. You know, it's from this one place that we went to. There was this old amusement park that's still open and they still have the same rides I used to ride when I was like a kid. I mean, I'm like, Oh my God. I would not let my kids go on that. Yeah, not whole lot has changed. Now, I went and it was in June. And I could tell you I saw like 3 pride flags floating out in front of somebody's house. Between and I was in like. A lot of different parts of the state. I wasn't the Albany area where my mother-in-law lived for most of the time I was there, I was in Syracuse, where I went to high school, and I was in. This area, called Verona Beach, is where I where my brother is. No pride flags out. Kept wondering, do they celebrate it a different time back here or what?

DUFFIELD: Maybe different places. You know, it's like I think about that story you told me. Maybe our first or second session. About as a little kid going to the beach with your family on, I can't remember the name of the lake. Lake Oneida, right? And it being this big, vast body of water and then this water coming in and its sort of being a good family place. Did you get a chance to go back there too?

CONDOLORA: Yeah. That's where my brother. My brother has he has a part-time house there.

DUFFIELD: Oh OK. You know, how did it feel being back at that place where you spent so much time as a kid?

CONDOLORA: Well, that was also very good experiences this time around. You know, my brother's kind of a little more of a conservative person. I was a little worried about him and his wife. But while I was there, he took us out on the boat. We sat out in the sandbars and had some beers with him and his friends and they were all very cordial and nice, and then one of my high school or my younger my friends from when I was a kid came out and I went over to talk to her. And I went to give her a hug and she goes whoa, do I know you? And so, I said, yeah, you know, and then she realized who I was. I mean, it wasn't like she hadn't heard that. You know, I had transition, but she didn't recognize me, which was really cool.

DUFFIELD: How did that play out? Was she surprised?


DUFFIELD: Was it a like? Was she OK?

CONDOLORA: Well, she hugged me after she realized who it was. So, I guess it was OK.

DUFFIELD: So, when you're out there with your friends and your brother and you're thinking about and your family. Did you find any moment of like deep reflection? Like what, how have I changed overtime or is everything OK? Which it sounds like everything was just fine. It was just a little different from where it was in the beginning.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, yeah, and surprisingly. You know my brother and his wife, which wasn't his. His new wife. You know, overly nice to me, which surprised me, and they insisted, you know, they're really upset with me because Carol and I stayed in a motel rather than stay with them. Like, well, I didn't know if that would be, you know I didn't, wasn't sure about that, so you know, and Carol also wasn't sure about it, and she didn't want to stay with them. So, we stayed in a hotel and anyway, long story short, they were insisted that I come visit them in Florida this year. So, I'm going down there in January.

DUFFIELD: So, it sounds like it turned out OK, like there was just more. It's not as if they didn't know, but it was just more like coming back together with your family. And this had been going on for many years. These are reunions. Yeah?

CONDOLORA: I don't know how my brother reacted initially because I didn't tell him my sister did. So, and then you know, when I talked to him, he didn't, you know, the subject kind of didn't come up really as much as we talked about the same things we always talked about. And, you know, at one point he sent me a card right after a Christmas card saying. I've heard you've had a change in your life, congratulations. You know, it was a supportive kind of thing, but. I still wasn't sure. A couple of years after that, my sister went back. And when she came back out and I talked to her, she. Told me that. None of his friends knew about it. He hadn't told them, and she let she basically let the cat out of the bag when she was there. She was outing me all over the place. Which was OK, you know, I don't have a problem with that. But, it made me wonder about him because to not say anything to me, he kind of said like, well, he doesn't want anybody to know about this, so he's probably not really OK with it, even though he sent me that support of little note, he's probably really not OK with it or he would have told his friends. I mean, that would seem like kind of a. Kind of big news that you might share with your friends, you know? I mean, at some point over a couple of years that might come up in the conversation about something, you know, so.

DUFFIELD: It sounds like they were being cautious around their friends more so, but I I'm just curious like, all of that stuff aside, like when you've gone back and now that you've, I guess I'm looking for a moment of reflection or recollection about comparing how things have changed for you over time to in lieu of now we're kind of. In the last part of the interview. I guess that that begs the question is what has been the biggest change you've seen over time? You know, how have you? How have you changed overtime?

CONDOLORA: So in that part of my life, I don't see really much change. You know I. I tend to have I think I have the same relationships with most of the people from my family and. My old friends that I always have, except for the ones. That kind of you? Know I've lost touch with most people over the years anyway, so. I I don't see a great deal of change there. I think the change that I have seen has been more around my personality in being an out person.

DUFFIELD: What does that mean?

CONDOLORA: Well, what I mean by that is that, you know, I spent so much time hiding who I was. And now that I'm able to, or I don't have to hide who I am anymore. It's opened up a lot of doors for me to be more outgoing person. You know, and it kind of goes back to that whole thing about going to the prides and going. To some of these events where I was the only trans person there. It's giving me a sense of oh I don't know the right word. Self-confidence. That's the word that I would search. I've been searching for. I've had I have way more self-confidence than I've ever had. And even you know, with my former work life. You know, I kind of immersed myself in that as kind of a coping mechanism too and. I never really considered myself this, you know, I didn't have as much confidence in my work as everybody else did. And even that I'm kind of looking back on it and saying, boy, you know, I don't know why I was. I was feeling like I wasn't as good as I was because I was pretty good. So now looking back at some of the things that I built over the years, I'm like, well, you know, I was you know, I was pretty good at that.

DUFFIELD: It begs the question of. Who you are now and who do you want to grow to be from this point forward?

CONDOLORA: Ohh I don't know. I just want to grow old gracefully at this point. I think I could probably still learn. But you know I could still probably have a little more self-confidence still, but I'm like. Even though I'm like way more self-confident than I ever was, I could probably still stand to be a little bit more like that. You know, I know I'll never have that kind of charisma like Sean had and some other people I know, but. I wish I had a little bit more of that too. I don't I just don't think you can learn that.

DUFFIELD: No, but I think that I've always seen you in the community as kind of the stalwart person and take that with a grain of salt. When I've seen you in the community, it's always been in Community Action, so I've always seen you and I like out of pride or doing TDOR or out at different events. But that's my perception of you is that you're kind of. I wouldn't say relentless, but like nothing bothers you, right? Like you take it with the there's a there's a strength like, OK like oh, that's happening now. You know, I'm not going to get upset about that, but at the same time I'm going to do what I'm going to do. You know, and there's a sense of humor and a sense of joy in that I think I felt with you overtime. But that's only my $0.02.

CONDOLORA: Yeah. Thank you.

DUFFIELD: Yeah, no problem. So, I guess the last question is usually. What do you want folks to get out of your story, over the last four sessions?

CONDOLORA: Whatever they want to get out of it. I know that's going kind of a cop out answer, but it's true. You know, I think you can look at everything from a lot of different angles. And my story is very typical of most trans women, but very untypical of the lot. You know, I remember. So, this is a quote from a song by AWOLNATION and I I try to remember as much as I can, “never let your fear decide your fate.”

DUFFIELD: What does it mean, to you?

CONDOLORA: To me, it means because I lived in fear so much of my life it really decided everything about me and the minute that I quit letting the fear decide what I was going to do in my life I took control of my own fate. You know my state was being, you know, my whole life was being basically, run by my fear.

DUFFIELD: Fearless faith, then. Well, that's the lesson is the OR the allegory is the fearless fate is you choose a fate that is, that is fearless. That is not based in fear. And fate is one of those things that. Even rhetorically speaking, it's hard to justify. Because fate is that thing that you think is predetermined for you, right? Like there's no choice in certain things.


DUFFIELD: But if the barrier to your choices was always the fear. Then it's simply maybe making the choices in the first place.

CONDOLORA: Right. And I don't believe that everything has been written kind of fate really. Create your own. You create your own fate and sometimes things happen. You know, fake kind of steps in in certain spots in your life. And but there is a choice when that fate kind of thing happens, there's a choice to go one way or the other and depending on. Which way you go depends on a lot of factors, but fear can. Definitely be one of them.

DUFFIELD: So maybe the. So be fearless. Never let your fear decide your fate. You said something, I clipped the other few minutes ago. I wanted you to expand upon, which is, you know, to be out. To be a part of the community you must be out in the community. Is that right?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I think so. I mean, you can say, I don't know. I mean, I I know a lot of trans women that. Don't participate in the community in any way at all because they've transitioned. They move on. Some of them are living stealth. They're certainly not visible to. Anybody, if they if they pass. I guess I don't even want to use that word but. You know, and then I know others. That I kind of embrace the fact that they're. And you don't have to do that all the time to embrace it. I mean, I don't walk in the grocery store with a trans flag on or walking the grocery store. I'm just another old lady buying tomatoes, right? That doesn't mean that I'm not visible. When necessary and when I can be. And it's not that I, you know or take part in the community events and. I mean, I don't know how many Facebook groups, trans Facebook groups I am Involved in but and that is not necessarily really out, but.

DUFFIELD: An interesting question that is this gender gay male doesn't have experience to ask. But it is interesting to think about like the utility of self-living. Right. That it works for some folks and then it doesn't work for everybody. When I think back in history, I think back to Harvey Milk, who said, you know, and the whole idea of the political is personal, right? You have to kind of be out about your politics. You kind of have to be out about who you are. You have to talk about things? Not all the time you don't have to be who you, but if you're not yourself 24 hours a day when it comes time to talk about it, you know, what does that mean? Does any of that resonate for you?

CONDOLORA: Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, that's, I mean right. You don't have to be out 24 hours a day. In Other words, you don't have to I guess I don't really know. You don't have to do it. Just you should do it. I mean, when it's when it's important, it's it, it might be just like as simple as voting. You don't have to vote. And you don't have to vote for queer and allies type candidates. But if you don't, are you doing anything to help yourself or anybody else? It's a simple. Little thing doesn't. Doesn't take much. You know, if there's a March or something like that, do you have to go? No. Is it sometimes a pain in the ass to go? Yeah. But should you go? I think so.

DUFFIELD: What would you like to see, sorry continue?

CONDOLORA: You know and well, it's just more about visibility in general, you know. Does the guy next door have to know you're trans? But would it be a better world if you? Did know and you know if he already likes you. I don't know.

DUFFIELD: So, in other words, like in. Syracuse, if you saw a few more pride and trans flags, that might. Be a little easier.

CONDOLORA: Yeah, it would make it would have made me feel better you know.

DUFFIELD: Because when you're out, you help.

CONDOLORA: In my neighborhood, there's a lot hanging, you know, and. You know, so. It makes you feel more a part of the community in general.

DUFFIELD: Visibility to show even small visibility. Adds to a larger sense of visibility. In my experience, that's not something that I that I think is lacking today
for a lot of folks, but I don't know in in yours?

CONDOLORA: Visibility?

DUFFIELD: Well, people, people being out and and being visible, right?

CONDOLORA: No, it's gotten a lot. There's there are a lot more out in physical people. You know, we have a representatives as a trans woman, right? So that's about out and visible as you can get, you know. And but then you. Well, I don't know if I want to go there.

DUFFIELD: Hey, what do you mean?

CONDOLORA: Well, I was just thinking. I saw this thing on Netflix was very surprising to me because it was not a story about a gay person or. The name of the show is called made Maid. So, in the very first episode I was watching and. My wife and I were watching it together and she goes to see the social services lady. And I look in the background and I saw a little trans pin, I mean, just a tiny little trans pin that's stuck on her bulletin board. And I got. Carol, there's a trans pin, what are you talking about? Look, look, she's looking. I said I. Don't see anything. I don't know what you're talking about. And I had to, like, stop it and rewind it and get it to like. Stop on the like the scene. There's a little trans pin in there and then I noticed a little bit later on there was a trans flag on her divider, little glass part of her divider stuck on there and I said, you know, it's a small part of representation, but I noticed it. And I don't know how many. Other people noticed it, but. It's a cool thing to notice, you know, especially when Netflix has the whole Dave Chappelle thing going on at the same time, you know. Invisibility can take can be anything as long as there's positive visibility. And I forgot what we were talking about, because that's why I said I don't know if I want to get into this because it was kind of off subject.

DUFFIELD: Oh, it was. The question of like of kind of living a closet or stealth life. It's like, I know gay men that don't talk about their that, that, that don't talk about their personal lives at work and it's an exceptionally uncomfortable position. And that's a different life experience completely, but it's like the question is begged, you know, do you have to?

CONDOLORA: And I would say the answer to that is no. And if it makes you feel unsafe, then you shouldn't. But it also creates that thing where if the people around you don't know. I remember and now I had already begun my transition and I was out to most of the people in my life, but I was not out at work. And at work I was maybe a little weird, but I was not out. And that was when Caitlyn Jenner came out. There was some idiot, and he wasn't somebody that I worked with normally, but he was another construction person on the job while we were there working. Talking about Caitlyn Jenner in very transphobic terms because, and he probably wouldn't have done that had I been out. And I kind of told him off a little bit without. Telling him that I was trans. Because, you know at that point that would, that was just wasn't out of work and. I didn't want people to know. Yeah, I was. And I had already. I think everybody knew except for the people that I worked with. Even the person that works working with me know but not the people I was working for, if that makes sense.

DUFFIELD: It does. So, it's more like that that one case would have been perfect for a visible statement and gotten someone to think another place, but that happens overtime. Unfortunately, I'm running out of time today; is there anything we haven't covered in this interview that you'd like to talk about?

CONDOLORA: I don't think so.

DUFFIELD: So, if there's any one final message you want to leave, what would it be? You're good, OK.

CONDOLORA: I think my don't let fear decide your fate is a good one.

DUFFIELD: OK. Alright, I'm going to stop recording. Thank you for doing this fourth interview. I appreciate it, Julia.