Who I’m supposed to be

Former Ferris student and bodybuilder speaks about LGBTQ+ community and healthcare

Photo by: Aubrey Kemme | Multimedia Editor
Janae Kroczaleski shares with Ferris students the challenges she’s faced as a transgender woman and a cancer survivor.

The College of Pharmacy invited a Ferris graduate to share her journey to becoming a transgender woman and the healthcare issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces.

Students sat with friends in the small auditorium, talking to one another about homework assignments, parties and the latest gossip. Then Janae Kroczaleski took the podium and the room fell quiet.

As a cancer survivor and transgender woman, Kroczaleski came to Ferris to share her story as well as educate pharmacy students about healthcare’s connection with sexuality and genders.

As a former male world champion bodybuilder and world record–holding powerlifter, Kroczaleski has dealt with the backlash of being openly transgender not only with her work, but with her family and friends as well.

“My middle brother is very protective of me now,” Kroczaleski said. “When I first came out, some people in my family were talking crap about me and he basically said that if people did he would pop everybody. But at the same time, I know that it really bothers him and it feels like he is losing his brother.”

As Kroczaleski shared her story with the small group of students, the emotions in the room began to change. What was once lighthearted changed to serious and emotional.

“If me being out prevents just one suicide or helps one parent accept their child, then any sacrifice I had to make was totally worth it,” Kroczaleski said.

The event soon took a more educational turn as Kroczaleski transitioned the topic towards healthcare.

Kroczaleski and many others in the LGBTQ+ community cannot use the luxury of health insurance to cover surgeries and required therapy sessions. However, some of the pharmaceutical therapies are covered. In addition, more insurances are adding more to their benefits for the LGBTQ+ community.

Ferris pharmacy graduate student Michael Oisten listened to Krozaleski speak.

“I came to the event because I plan on working in a retail setting once I graduate and I know that deals heavily with just the regular community as well as the individuals subsets, and personally I take it as something to pride in to give somebody the best healthcare I can,” Oisten said.