This Pride season the Center would like to take a moment to fill you in on all the programs, services and events we offer to transgender and gender non-conforming people, through our Gender Identity Project (GIP).
“We’re thrilled about the expanded services we’re able to offer this year,” said Gender Identity Project Community Prevention Coordinator, Cristina Herrera. “We have two exciting new groups: ‘Stories’ for trans and gender-non-conforming (GNC) people on the feminine spectrum, and ‘Voices’ for trans and gender-non-conforming (GNC) people on the masculine spectrum. We’ve also added Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services, and this July we’ll begin rapid HIV testing at the Center.”
The Gender Identity Project (GIP) was founded in 1989 and is the first transgender-driven project initiated and fully supported within a Community Center, and focused on the needs of the greater queer community. The GIP works to foster the healthy development of transgender and gender non-conforming people, partners, family and community. Through the delivery of a range of supportive services, advocacy, outreach, education and capacity-building, the GIP creates a safe and productive atmosphere for community-building, wellness and self-care, and leadership development.
The GIP is also the first transgender peer counseling and empowerment program in New York State. This landmark program serves 850 transgender clients yearly: 75% are transgender women, 30% are Black, 3% API, 53% Latino. Annually, these clients receive individual 230 counseling and referrals visits and made 620 visits to drop-in groups and events. The GIP offers bilingual services by staff members and peer interns, as well as outreach materials printed in Spanish, which are specifically designed for transgender immigrants.
As touched on above by Cristina Herrera, in addition its numerous regular offerings, the GIP most recently added several new services to meet the emerging needs of the community. The Trans/Gender-Non-Conforming (GNC) Feminine “Stories” Group is a weekly discussion group on topics including: gender pride, assertiveness skills training, managing relationships and coping skills. Members of the group are also encouraged to share their personal stories in a safe & supportive environment. The group meets for 6 week cycles, 3 times a year for a total of 18 meetings a year. The Trans/Gender-Non-Conforming (GNC) Masculine Spectrum “Voices” Group, a weekly discussion group on topics including: community building, emotional health, gender pride, managing relationships, role models and sexual health.
The Center’s (GIP) services have never been more vital. According to a report released earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), “transgender people face unrelenting discrimination in virtually all aspects of their lives.”
Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey was published in February and revealed widespread discrimination experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people across the board.
Here are the key findings:
• Discrimination was pervasive for all respondents who took the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, yet the combination of anti-transgender bias and persistent, structural and individual racism was especially devastating for Latino/a transgender people and other people of color.
• Non-citizen Latino/a respondents were often among those most vulnerable to harassment, abuse and violence in the study; their experiences are noted throughout this report.
• Latino/a transgender people often live in extreme poverty with 28% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. This is nearly double the rate for transgender people of all races (15%), over five times the general Latino/a population rate (5%), and seven times the general U.S. population rate (4%).iii The rate for Latino/a non-citizen respondents was 43%.
• Latino/a transgender people were affected by HIV in devastating numbers. One in twelve Latino/a respondents were HIV-positive (8.44%) and an additional 10.23% reported that they did not know their status. This compares to rates of 2.64% for transgender respondents of all races, .50% for the general Latino/a population, and 0.60% of the general U.S. population. The rate for Latino/a non-citizen respondents was 23.08%
• Forty-seven percent (47%) of Latino/a respondents reported having attempted suicide.
• Latino/a respondents who attended school as transgender people reported alarming rates of harassment (77%), physical assault (36%), and sexual assault (13%) in K-12; harassment was so severe that it led 21% to leave school. Nine percent (9%) were also expelled due to bias.
• Respondents who were harassed and abused by teachers in K-12 settings show dramatically worse health and other outcomes compared to those who do not experience such abuse. Peer harassment and abuse also had highly damaging effects.
The Center’s GIP program is well aware of those alarming statistics and works tirelessly 365 days a year to help thousands of transgender and gender-non-conforming (GNC) people. Here are just a few recent examples:
- On December 13, 2011, Director of Center Wellness Andres Hoyos, joined Center clients in testifying before New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration as it looked into how NYC immigrants are treated in detention centers. Cecilia Gentili, a Gender Identity Project Peer Educator and transgender immigrant from Argentina told her story of how she faced both sexual assault and verbal abuse in detention centers before she was ultimately granted asylum after being in this country for 10 years.
New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration
- As a community center, the Center works to ensure adequate resources to address the evolving needs of LGBT people, with a focus on New York City and State. At a hearing held by the City Council Committee on Civil Rights and Committee on Health on December 16, 2011, Gender Identity Project Community Prevention Coordinator Cristina Herrera, Lesbian Cancer Initiative (LCI) Coordinator Cristina Moldow, and LCI Peer Intern Kaz Mitchell, urged the City Council to bolster efforts by the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) to require trainings that ensure all LGBT people are treated with respect in city hospitals, and develop robust standards to evaluate these endeavors.
New City Council's Committee on Civil Rights and Committee on Health
- 2012 marks the third year of the Gender Identity Project’s (GIP) TransLatina collaborative. TransLatina offers supportive services to Latina transgender women, including support services on self-defense, trauma and stress reduction, and medical services including STI screening. On January 31, over 60-participants gathered at the first TransLatina social event of 2012 which was held in collaboration with Community Health Care Network, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, AIDS Center Queens County, and Make the Road New York and hosted at the Queens Pride House.
- The Gender Identity Project’s (GIP) Trans Hand-on Team (T-HOT) conducted three community needs assessments in March and early April. The meetings were held at the Center, at the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) in Woodside and at Make the Road in Bushwick. They addressed a wide array of concern impacting the transgender and gender non-conforming communities focusing on the needs of communities of color. Dr. Paul Weiss presented on chest and breast reconstruction surgery for transgender men and women to over 65 participants at the March 23 GenderTECH 2012 event.
- On April 27, the Center’s Gender Identity Project hosted the Lorena Borjas Community Fund (LBCF) – Ribbon Cutting Event, sponsored by Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Community Healthcare Network and the TransLatina Network of NYC. Lorena is a transgender Latina activist and facilitates a group for the GIP’s Trans-Latina project. The LBCF is a volunteer-run project to help low-income LGBT immigrants.
Lorena Borjas Event at the Center, April 2012
- The GIP’s peer team lead by Community Prevention Coordinator, Cristina Herrera, participated in the 11th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference from May 31 to June 2. The GIP presented TransLatina Stories, a workshop that focuses on the GIP’s unique community-driven approach to successfully engaging and empowering transgender women from Latin America and the Caribbean to live healthier lives while promoting overall wellness.
- On June 12 changes were announced to the New York City Police Department Patrol Guide that will help ensure that police officers treat transgender and gender non-conforming people with dignity and respect. The patrol guide changes are the result of nearly 18-months of negotiations between LGBT advocacy groups including the Center, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office and the NYPD. They address an array of unique problems that transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers face when they are arrested, processed and detained in police precincts.
Center's Director of Community Services, Carrie Davis (NYPD LGBT Advisory Panel Member)
The GIP is honored to do this work every day on behalf of the community—and the testimonials below confirm why it’s so important:
“I am a proud partner of a transwoman for the last 20 years. I was connected by my partner to the counseling services at Center’s Gender Identity Project which also provides services to partners and families of the transgender community. I was assigned a counselor who has helped me feel much better and was able to understand my concerns as a partner of a transwoman. I am no longer feeling highly stressed because I had someone to talk about things that I have held in for years. It has helped me improve the condition of my relationship, which was rocky when I started counseling. My counselor helped me process my difficult history and the Center was a safe space for me to talk about the stressors such as having a HIV positive partner. Today, I feel happy because of the help I received from the Center. For that, I am very grateful.”
Carlos- Gender Identity Project Client
“The Center helped me tremendously. You gave me a sense of worthiness and the strength to become a productive member of society. That ultimately led to my favorable asylum decision.”
Cecilia Gentili- Gender Identity Project Peer Educator and transgender immigrant from Argentina
For more information GIP’s vast set of resources, please visit us here on our website.
Happy Pride to the entire community!