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Finding her authentic self

Smith School of Business staff member Erin LeBlanc’s book provides valuable insights for those making a similar gender transition journey and their allies.

Erin LeBlanc's book 'Stranger in the Mirror: The Search for Me' provides an emotional survival guide for those living with gender dysphoria.

The journey of transgender people is often not an easy one, but through her new book, Erin LeBlanc provides an emotional survival guide for those living with gender dysphoria. Their families and friends, supporters and allies, and the LGBTQ+ community will also be able to find valuable insights in the memoir 

Stranger in the Mirror: The Search for Me takes the reader through LeBlanc’s own transition journey. 

“These are difficult times for the LBGTQ+ community and specifically the transgender community in countries around the world,” says LeBlanc, who works in the Smith School of Business at Queen’s. “While we are fortunate to benefit from a more accepting environment in Canada, there are still many who experience difficulties impacting their quality of life and health. I think we need a good news story. That is not to say that my story is to be celebrated, but rather to demonstrate that you can be who you were born to be, to be your authentic self, and you will be okay.” 

The new book gives information for those that are transitioning and those who wish to be supporters and allies. It also provides an educational foundation for the general public on what it means to suffer from gender dysphoria or be transgender. LeBlanc’s story can help readers understand that transitioning is not a lifestyle choice. 

“I was the beneficiary of the hard work and sacrifices of those in the community that went before me,” explains LeBlanc. “I wish I had more information when I was trying to figure out who I am, so I wanted to create that type of resource for others, to provide solace and guidance if I could, for others to learn from my mistakes and make the journey easier, if even just in the smallest way.” 

Working in a very public place like Queen’s presented its own challenges but also offered unique opportunities. LeBlanc says she was terrified to come out at work and wanted to understand the protections she had. Her first stop was the Human Rights Office, where she met with Jean Pfleiderer, Associate Director, Human Rights Advisory Services.  

“She immediately set me at ease with how welcoming and supportive she was and informative of how policies and laws were in place to provide protection,” says LeBlanc. “The response in initial conversations regarding my intent to come out was exemplary and leadership in the Smith School of Business was compassionate, supportive. They listened to my struggle and my wishes and truly created a team to work with me to move forward. Without exception, faculty, staff, and students were extremely welcoming and truly happy that I was now able to be who I really am.” 

With the book now available to the general public, LeBlanc says she hopes people reading it can take some solace in learning of her journey. 

“All I want to do is live my life, do my job, and contribute to the community. And that shouldn’t be too much to ask. Being your authentic self, who you were born to be, is an amazing thing.” 

To learn more about Stranger in the Mirror: The Search for Me visit her website or watch her Facebook live video. A portion of the money raised from the sale of the book will go towards supporting TransFamily Kingston