CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley alumnus and LGBT advocate Josh Nichols reflected upon the process of transitioning from female to male for more than 80 students on Feb. 6 at Penn State Lehigh Valley. The event was hosted by the Penn State Lehigh Valley Psychology Club to inform students about transgender identity and how it correlates with Nichols’ career path as a psychology major.
Prior to transitioning, Nichols was ostracized at a young age because he developed masculine features. Nichols said he attempted to accommodate his former identity by wearing female attire at school.
“I didn’t feel female on the inside,” said Nichols. “I felt trapped and it made me feel self-conscious about myself.”
According to Nichols, it was not until 2010 when he attended Penn State Lehigh Valley that he received the support he needed. Under the guidance of his family, former Lehigh Valley staff member Tiffany Cresswell-Yeager and Campus Counselor Tammy Yocum, Nichols started his transition.
In time, Nichols was inspired to share his story with others, he advocated for the LGBT community by participating in student clubs and activities on campus highlighting transgender related issues to promote diversity and equality.
“If it weren’t for the resources at Penn State Lehigh Valley and the support of Tiffany and Tammy, I would not be here before you,” said Nichols.
After graduating from Penn State in 2014, Nichols was hired by a non-profit organization, which he said promotes his same values and beliefs. Nichols said he is still in the process of transitioning and will continue to do so.
“I didn’t know it would take someone a long time to transition. I’m happy his family is supporting his endeavors,” said Luke Williams, a Lehigh Valley senior majoring in corporate communication, who attended the event.
David Livert, associate professor of psychology at Lehigh Valley and adviser of the Psychology Club shared his the impression Nichols’ speech left on him.
“The importance of this event was to help students understand the different social categories we have in society and to embrace it,” said Livert. “We have more in common than we realize because we all have a similar story to share.”
About the “All In” campaign
“All In” at Penn State is an ongoing University-wide initiative that welcomes students, faculty and staff together to display their commitment by creating and maintain a diverse and inclusive atmosphere — one that is respectful of all values and beliefs, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, abilities, background, veteran’s status and political beliefs.