Meet Carter and LC 2 Durham firefighters battling fires, LGBTQ inclusion: ‘Incredibly Supportive’

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham Fire Department was the last place Meredith Carter and LC Carpenter expected to find true friendship and understanding. In addition to fighting fires, the work pair educates their colleagues on the LGBTQ+ community.

The two work for Station 4 in Durham. It’s a district with a high volume of calls that range from shootings to car crashes and fires. Their love for the Bull City shows in how they respond to calls.

Carter and LC also had different journeys to living as who they were meant to be.

MEREDITH CARTER

“This district runs a lot of high acuity calls. We have shootings, house fires, and bad car wrecks. It might sound kind of morbid, but those are the calls we really get to use our skills and know we’re really helping people,” Meredith Carter said.

“I went to UNC and when I graduated I went to work as a software consultant for IBM for four years. I moved to Philadelphia for that. I would work from home on Fridays and I lived around the corner from a fire station. I would watch the fire trucks go by with lights and sirens while I was on my Zoom meetings hating my life. I was like, you know what, I need to just can this and do something different. So I moved back down to North Carolina and took an EMT class. As soon as I got my EMT license I started applying to fire departments and Durham was the first one that called.”

Carter, 33, loves working as a firefighter. Both professionally and personally, she is content with life as she knows it. Carter identifies as a lesbian woman who has been accepted by her parents and close circle. She has been married for three years to her wife Deanna. The couple has a dog named Reba who is three years old.

“My parents have always been very accepting. It really felt like a nonissue. It wasn’t a big event for me. I’m very fortunate in that way,” said Carter. “Their attitude and acceptance taught me a lot about how to be a good person in general. It’s just another example of parenting by example. I like to think I’m pretty open-minded and accepting myself especially here at the fire department. We have people from all walks of life. I think all of us have to come to work with a certain degree of open-mindedness so we can come together as a team.”

At work, Carter exhibits trust, respect and comradery with her colleagues.

LC CARPENTER

LC Carpenter, 31, has had a different experienced than work partner Carter.

He is a transgender man and has only been out for a few years, but this is the happiest he has been in his life. The pair met at work and have been creating understanding around the LGBTQ+ community in the Bull City and at Station 4, the firehouse they are both assigned to. At work, they’re both able to proudly live life as who they were meant to be.

“I’ve asked my crew if they’ve ever known a trans person before me and I think every single one besides Carter has said no and if that has changed their perspective or anything. People I’ve had a conversation with just say, ‘Yeah you’re just a person. You are one of my friends, my family, my teammate.’ Trans people are just people. We’re just regular people trying to live our lives,” Carpenter said. “I think I’ve always known who I am. When I was younger I definitely knew I was a boy. It was pushed down by my family, but I always wanted to wear boys clothes. My mom and I would get into arguments about what I was wearing when I was really little.”

Carpenter is a native of Massachusetts. When he was 24 years old, he decided to live his life authentically.

“I just got to a point in my life where I was ready to be who I’ve always been. After my mom passed away, I realized that my life wasn’t going to be forever. Wouldn’t be around forever. I should stop dragging my feet on being the person I am. I was out as a queer person at that point. I just became more open about it with my family and friends. Feeling like my outside wasn’t reflecting inside,” said Carpenter. “I feel like I’m living in the body I’m supposed to be in. It’s really different for everyone, but yeah, I feel really good.”

STATION 4 FAMILY

To both, Fire Station 4 truly feels like home.

“We have a really special thing going here at Station 4. It sounds corny, but I do consider everyone to be a family member of mine.” Carter said. “We’re all high performers at our jobs. There’s a lot of trust between us and we like to have fun together too.”

“It’s a very, very positive environment. Incredibly supportive,” Carpenter sai. “I think my favorite part about the culture is the respect we all have for each other. We have a lot of different political, personal beliefs. Just diverse in a number of different ways. I think it has made us closer. I know I can be myself without scrutiny and live as myself and not worry about haters.”

The camaraderie they have formed as firefighters working with another queer person is special. They meshed fairly quickly and worked well together. On the worst day of people’s live, the pair shows up together ready to support the community. They love their job.

“Some days I think about it and I’m like wow, people call 911 and get me and LC. That’s a great thing. We’re extremely capable firefighters and providers. We have like a sibling relationship. There’s some rivalry. A lot of joking around. Cool part about us being part of the queer community is there’s a lot of shared cultural understanding,” Carter said. “There’s no shame in talking about ‘Hey, I’m still thinking about this one call.’ The fire service culture in general is becoming a lot more accepting of talking about PTSD, talking about going to therapy and talking about suicide prevention. I’m really happy to see that as a shift.”

“We do have our PTSD dog Blaze. He’s a trained PTSD dog. We’re very fortunate to have him and we lean on each other. We joke about stuff a lot. We can have serious discussions if a call is weighing on us.”

“I didn’t even know this was an option that I could live like this being successful, happy and part of my community and be who I am,” said Carpenter. “My friends and family have been very supportive of me coming out as a trans person. Being able to come out now or later down the line speaks to the times changing and becoming a more accepting society.”

“We have a very vibrant LGBT community in Durham. I would like to see that reflected. More Spanish speakers. I think the community is better served when those serving them reflect who they are,” said Carter. “When I was younger, representation was always Romeo and Juliet, the man and woman getting married. Not being able to see myself reflected in the world and media. Things are changing and that’s a great thing.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.