CLEVELAND — Beau Shaniuk and his wife, Lauren Shaniuk, are a Tinder love story. They met in college at Ohio University and tied the knot in August last year. When they met, Beau went by Bri and used she/her pronouns. More than five years later, Beau uses he/him pronouns and identifies as a trans-masculine person. 

What You Need To Know

  • In June, the Human Rights Campaign issued a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people
  • More than 550 anti-trans bills have been introduced in the U.S.
  • Six anti-trans bills have been introduced in Ohio 

  • A transgender man from northeast Ohio wants to help people understand one of the most misunderstood letters in LGBTQ+ — the T

“I identify as pansexual and that just kind of means that regardless of the genitalia involved, I am just down to love people that I think are good and vibrant, and that I'm attracted to,” Lauren said. “It has truly been just like a life-changing experience for me just to watch someone change and grow in ways that I didn't even know were possible. I tell him all the time, he is just like the most amazing person I've ever met. He is so sure of himself. And he just is someone who really knows who he is.”

Beau started his transition at the age of 22. 

Beau Shaniuk and his wife, Lauren Shaniuk. (Provided)

“I started hormone therapy at the end of November 2019,” Beau said. “I've been on hormone therapy ever since. And then I got top surgery February of 2021.” 

Beau said some transgender people feel like they were born in the wrong bodies, but to him it’s not that black and white. He said your experience doesn’t have to fit into a box. 

“Being trans is different for everyone,” Beau said. “I also think that a lot of people assume that trans people live their whole lives just hating themselves, right? Hating their bodies, hating how they look, so on and so forth. And that wasn't the case for me. I think it's just been a matter of finding what feels good. And who I am right now — Beau. How I dress, my pronouns, my nails painted, my dangly earrings — it all makes me feel good. It makes me feel happy.”

He said he thinks a lot of the hatred and hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community stems from misinformation. In 2021 on Trans Day of Visibility, he and his wife started a podcast called “T-Time” to share their experience with Beau’s transition and debunk misconceptions about being transgender. People in more than 30 countries support the podcast where the Shaniuks hope to educate listeners and help the LGBTQ+ community feel less alone.

“I think that a big part of ‘T-Time’ is to try and sort of get rid of some of that misinformation and also uplift queer voices and highlight the fact that, you know, we are normal,” Beau said. “We are beautiful, normal people that deserve rights, that deserve respect, that deserve to just be treated like human beings.” 

Beau Shaniuk. (Provided)

Beau lives his life out loud and proud because he said LGBTQ+ people are under attack. The Human Rights Campaign issued a first-ever national state of emergency for the community on June 6 after more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills nationwide have been signed into law. 

Beau said trans people have it the hardest. In 2023 alone, more than 550 anti-trans bills have been introduced in the U.S., according to the Trans Legislation tracker. In Ohio, six anti-trans bills have been introduced. 

With all the negative talk about trans people in the media, Beau hopes to be a beacon of light.

“There are happy trans adults, I am one of them,” Beau said. “There are happy trans adults that live and exist in the world. We live in your neighborhoods, we walk on your streets, we frequent the same establishments that you do, and we are happy. And that is so important for other queer and trans people, children and adults to see. To see that it is possible to live in this world as a queer person and be happy and be successful and live a joyful and fulfilling life.”

Beau Shaniuk playing the ukulele, Taylor Bruck/Spectrum News 1

As a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and a volunteer, Beau’s work revolves around making the world a safer place for LGBTQ+ people. Lauren supports him in any way she can and encourages the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to get to know trans people’s experiences. 

“He is someone that is so kind-hearted, would go out of his way to help anyone that needs help," Lauren said. "He is creative. He is very funny. He's a ham, he loves to dance, he loves to eat food. We do all of these normal things. And at his core, he is such an amazingly normal person. And I think that's something that a lot of people don't understand about trans people. As a community, the trans people we know and love really need us to show up to voice our support and also to learn. It's really important for all of the other members and people who identify differently within the LGBT community to learn about trans experiences and learn what it means to be trans and how to show up the best you can for your trans friends.”

Human beings are very complex, but Beau said no matter how you identify, everyone deserves to live their lives as joyfully as possible. In a world filled with plenty of hate, he encourages everyone to overcome it with love. 

“Human beings are very multifaceted complex beings,” Beau said. “Even as a trans person. I think that I'm still learning. The LGBTQ+ community is made up of a plethora of identities and of terms, and it's hard to know them all and that's okay. Nobody expects you to sort of know everything that there is to know. The point is just to respect that we are all human beings and to, I guess, really allow us the space to safely figure out who we are.” 

You can find the T-Time podcast pretty much anywhere, Apple Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and Google Podcasts to name a few. For more information visit here.