CHARLOTTE, N.C. — June is Pride Month, a time of celebration for visibility, equality, and self-affirmation for the LGBTQ community.
A Charlotte transgender woman is opening up about her journey.
“I knew when I was a kid, I knew when I was 4-years-old,” Madison Hiatt said.
In 2021, she finally started living her truth.
“I decided to tear the mask off," Hiatt said. “I’m 45-years-old and I identify as a woman of transgender experience."
The experience hasn't been easy, it's an experience her parents never validated.
“They told me that if I ever came back, they would make sure I’d die," Hiatt said. "And so I haven’t been back, and I have no desire to go back."
Now, she's moving forward. Hiatt is a pathways career navigator for Goodwill.
“I’ve got people I’m helping get through school, I have people I’m helping break into new career fields," Hiatt said.
While she works to support others, Goodwill is now working to support her. The company has formally changed her name in their system and has approved paid time off for her gender-affirming surgery taking place in August.
“I’m so excited about that, and I’m so ready for my body to look like how it’s always felt,” Hiatt said.
For some people, the transgender journey may be tough to understand or empathize with, but Hiatt says it's not a choice.
"It’s just who we are," Hiatt said. “I just want to be able to work, take care of myself, take care of my family and live the best life possible. We’re no different from anyone else.”
Hiatt believes that sharing her story could allow someone to be their authentic self. She said not being who you are is a horrible experience and she's looking forward to her future.
Another reason Hiatt put off living her authentic self is that she became a parent and adopted two children. She wanted to focus on them but now that they are older and out of the house, she said it's time for her to focus on herself.
There are other companies on board with inclusive policies for the queer community. A report from the University of Washington shows some of those companies include American Airlines, Apple, Uber, and IKEA.