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New Alumni Director is Nationally-Recognized Trans Advocate (News)

Chloe Corcoran

  Chloe Corcoran is PAU’s new Director of Alumni Relations. She may also be the first out trans woman in higher education advancement.    During the first couple of weeks of Pride month, Corcoran will receive two high honors. First, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team will bring her onto the field to praise her work for the trans community. Second, Corcoran will be featured on a billboard in New York City’s Times Square along with three other hosts of the podcast “Being Trans.”   “It’s all so exciting. I’ve spent so much of my life being ashamed, hiding, and apologizing for who I was. And I’ll never do that again,” says Corcoran. “Now, I have pride in myself and in my community and what we do for the world and for each other. I have pride in the way we stand up in the face of a million different things being against us, including legislation. I have pride that we exist when the world tells us not to.”   
Growing Up
“My first memory in life was praying to God that I would wake up as a girl,” says Corcoran. “It took 30 plus years, but eventually I did.”   Corcoran grew up in Rochester, New York, and was raised Catholic. Her grandmother, who grew up in Ireland, was one of the most important people in her life, and they walked to church every week together.    “It was hard to sit there [in church] and receive a consistent message that you are wrong … not about something, but that you are wrong,” says Corcoran. “I couldn’t talk to my family about it, so God was the only person I could talk to. I didn’t even know what it was … it was just me wanting to express the truth that I was a girl, and I couldn’t.”    Corcoran confessed to being an over-achiever while growing up so that no one would suspect anything was troubling her on the inside. She was captain of her football team (where she played on the offensive line), consistently earned very high grades, and graduated seventh in her class.    “I was ‘loud enough to be quiet’,” says Corcoran. “Loud enough to let people think that I was fine so that they didn’t dig deeper. The only complaint people had was that I wasn’t mean enough as a football player … well, now they know why.”     In high school, Corcoran and her best friend explored different religions and belief systems in order to reconcile their faith. After months of going to different churches, they realized that the only thing they knew for certain was that they didn’t know anything, and they should be skeptical of religions that profess certain ideas as hard truths.    “This realization allowed a crack for me to see some light, it allowed for the possibility that I could be my true self in this lifetime,” says Corcoran. “And the thing about cracks is that they usually get bigger, and now there’s a whole lot of light.”    
Time for Transition
In college, Corcoran attended the University of Rochester where she continued to play football. She was offered a job as a football coach at a school in Ohio. Reluctantly, she turned it down because she knew she would transition someday and didn’t think being a football coach would be the best career choice for a trans person. In 2011, Corcoran accepted an advancement position at her alma mater, the University of Rochester.   In November of 2016, Corcoran took the courageous leap to transition at the age of 34. She took some time off and worked with a therapist to acclimate to her new identity and learn how to navigate stares and comments from people around her. When she returned to work at the University of Rochester, it was particularly nerve-wracking for her to walk the hallways. However, she had a supportive colleague who walked with her from one meeting to the next.    “After I transitioned, my life got objectively worse, but I felt better than I ever had on the inside because I could finally be me,” says Corcoran. “I had to remember that I had felt this way for my entire life, but for everyone else—my family, my friends, and co-workers—this was something new. For some, it was very difficult, and they were not accepting, and, as much as I could, I allowed that to be a ‘them’ problem instead of a ‘me’ problem.”  
It has been more than five years since her transition, and Corcoran is hitting her stride. During the pandemic, she auditioned (and was cast) to be one of the four members of the podcast “Being Trans”, which has achieved immense popularity in its first season.    Her family is incredibly supportive and makes an effort to stay connected in her life. In February of this year, her family threw a surprise 40th birthday party for Corcoran in her hometown of Rochester. Corcoran’s 91-year-old beloved grandmother attended the party, even though she suffered from dementia and was recovering from Covid.    “My grandmother remembered my name. She remembered my gender, my pronouns, she knew who I was. I’ll never forget it,” says Corcoran. “My aunt and her family said to me, ‘I know you couldn’t have these when you were young, so I want you to have them now,’ and then they handed me a set of gifts a little girl in the 1990s would receive, such as a jewelry box.”   In December 2021, Corcoran achieved a large goal related to her physical transformation and underwent facial feminization surgery at UCLA, which was showcased on the “Being Trans” podcast. Corcoran received publicity from this procedure because she was advocating for insurance to cover gender-affirming care.   “Looking in the mirror now, I can see me. I can actually see me,” says Corcoran. “It’s like I was wrapped in stone. The surgeon didn’t need to reshape my whole face, but with a little chisel here and there, she was able to reveal what was inside in a way that I wasn’t able to express before.”    In the future, along with her work at PAU, Corcoran plans to complete a PhD in higher education leadership, continue her advocacy work for the LGBTQ+ community, and emphasize that being true to oneself is essential for happiness.     “Before I transitioned, I was only giving pieces of myself to people—you get ‘funny Chloe’, you get ‘hard-working Chloe’, you get ‘athletic Chloe’. I was never able to give my whole self because I didn’t want them to know my whole self,” says Corcoran. “But now, I have nothing to hide, I am fully myself, and I feel whole. And the message I’m trying to get out is that it’s never too late to start to feel whole.”     PAU alumni can connect with Chloe on LinkedIn. Alumni can also join our LinkedIn group, Facebook group, or learn more about alumni resources and benefits.