On April 27, 2017, trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) community members, partners, and allies came together at GMHC to address the needs of the TGNC community.

Among the many disparities faced by TGNC people, housing has always been a system that our community has struggled with. Broken systems and non-acceptance from our own people and families has forced us to turn to the streets for survival. Sex work, drugs, and violence intertwine because survival means you do what you have to do. How do we as a community bridge the gap between these experiences and build a place we can call home? The same systems that discouraged our existence, so often the government and the services it provides, must be reformed and transformed.

Importantly, at the forum, there were panel discussions about our needs, such as what affirming healthcare looks like, housing, immigration justice, safety and policing, and employment opportunities. Break out groups were tasked with coming up with recommendations in each category that could be used for policy advocacy with local officials.

The housing group talked about the experiences of TGNC folks and how we are treated at city shelters. We recommended hiring trans folks as case managers, having a trans-specific shelter for adults, and holding the government accountable to grievances and the discrimination we experience, including following up with folks who file grievances at the shelters. The continued discrimination on low-income housing vouchers and safety were topics that were also brought up.

To move this conversation forward, community members made two key demands – a committee to track data around how many TGNC folks are actually permanently housed and whether or not the government assisted them in finding safe housing; and having safe spaces for folks who are recovering from gender-affirming surgeries.

Join us for the upcoming Staten Island forum, to be scheduled in August or September, where we will continue this work to raise awareness for the issues faced by TGNC people and create solutions to meet the urgent needs of our community.