Transgender Center opens in the Bronx

The Bronx Trans Collective is a new drop-in center near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in New York City.

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[The Center] will aim to bring together people who are often overlooked or disconnected even in New York City, which is considered to be the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. The center will help transgender people get surgeries, hormone treatments, mental health counseling and assistance with legal name changes and job searches, among other services. It will also host regular support groups, youth counseling, meditation and yoga classes and cookouts on its back terrace. 

The center is important for me because it is going to give me convenience, safety and a sense of community.

--Eli Berry, 28, who plans to stop by every week

The Bronx Trans Collective will be the city’s first major multiservice center dedicated specifically to transgender people, offering programs and services that were previously scattered across different sites. It is the result of a partnership between Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, and a coalition of six community organizations to address what many see as scant attention to the needs of transgender people, especially in poor and minority neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

Transgender New Yorkers of color living in poverty face a level of discrimination most of us will never know. We’re creating a model for the rest of the city to follow.

--Councilman Torres

Might I add that the model would probably be workable all over the country...if someone out there has a hankering to get involved?

When you talk about L.G.B.T., the T is often left off, or lowercase — it’s not really includedn. “This will be putting the T back into the forefront of the services of the community.

--Mister Cris, the executive director of Community Kinship Life, an advocacy group based in the Bronx that is part of the coalition

Though an accurate count is difficult to establish, city officials estimate that there are roughly 25,000 transgender residents across the five boroughs. Many live in the Bronx, where services can be limited or not well publicized. Some transgender people said they would go to a center in Manhattan to find out about services in the Bronx.

Alisha King, 31, a single mother in the Bronx, used to take two trains to a Manhattan clinic for hormone therapy and mental health counseling. But with the help of Community Kinship Life, she was able to find treatments closer to home last year. Ms. King said the Bronx center would bring more opportunities.

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I’m excited. We need a safe space — a nonjudgmental space — where we can be ourselves and get to know each other. 

--Ms. KIng

Space for the Center is being donated, along with utilities and computer equipment for the first year by the building's management agent, Community Outreach Consulting Firm, an affiliate of the Bronx Parent Housing Network.

I’m a community member, and I believe in equality for all people.

--Victor Rivera, CEO of both organizations

Mr. Torres alloctaed $20,000 of city funds to finance the start-up costs. The LGBT Community Center has provided desks, tables and chairs. Destination Tomorrow provided $600 for an intercom security system. Members of the coalition, which include Islan Nettles Community Project, Princess Janae Place, and Translatina Network will split the internet and phone bills.

Sean Coleman, the executive director of Destination Tomorrow, said the organizations were aiming to raise at least $65,000 to pay for operations, as well as to supply meals and MetroCards to people who use the center. So far, the members of the coalition have worked well together, he said.

We all understand this is bigger than us. There won’t be any fighting. We understand what’s at stake. How often do we get this opportunity?

--Mr. Coleman

The new center is a way of recognizing that trans lives matter.

--D'Jamel Young, 29, Bronx massage therapist

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