Million dollar transgender community center opens in Los Angeles

Transgender pride flag
. Photo: Associated Press

Six trans-focused organizations have come together under one unprecedented umbrella to serve the trans community of Los Angeles. The Trans Wellness Center features the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the TransLatin@ Coalition, Bienstar, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, and the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team.

The project is funded via a million dollar grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The Trans Wellness Center itself has been a project a decade in the making, put together by all the member organizations, and may serve as an example to other locations looking to better serve the transgender community.

“For the first time in the history of the transgender movement, trans and non-binary individuals finally have a safe, friendly, and non-judgmental area where they can find a wide range of vital services under one roof created by — and for — the community, said TWC program manager Mariana Marroquin at their opening event on the 24th of April”

The opening is well timed. With the Trump administration working to rollback healthcare for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act, options like the TWC may be an effective way for other localities to ensure that trans people have access to medical care.

The Transgender Wellness Center will provide a number of transition-related needs, including hormone treatments, but will provide more than simply healthcare. It intends to provide housing, legal, health, and employment assistance for transgender people.

Mariana Marroquin came to the United States seeking asylum 20 years ago, is serving as the program manager for the new center. While she was initially involved in HIV/AIDS prevention she views the project as a way to serve all the needs of trans people in one place.

“The health and well-being of trans and non-binary people goes beyond learning how to use a condom and getting tested,” said Marroquin at the TWC’s opening.

“How are you going to get tested if you are hungry? How are you not going to engage in survival sex work if you cannot get a job where you are respected for who you are? How are you going to take medication if you feel your life doesn’t matter? How are you going to leave that abusive relationship if you’re going to end up homeless?”

An eight-member community advisory board consisting of trans or non-binary community members works to guide the services provided at the TWC, and makes sure that the TWC best serves its community.

“I’m excited because we are finally taking back the power from a society that doesn’t really have time for us and sees us a lot of times as third and fourth class citizens,” said Thea Eskey, a member of the board. “This day is saying that we’re no longer accepting crumbs from under a table. We’re making our own.”

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