GA Voice - - Georgianews -

It’s been shown that les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual peo­ple are much more likely to end up home­less than their straight coun­ter­parts, but it can be even worse for the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. A joint study by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Trans­gen­der Equal­ity and the Na­tional Gay and Les­bian Task Force showed that one in five of the over 6,000 re­spon­dents had been de­nied hous­ing be­cause they were trans­gen­der or gen­der non­con­form­ing. One in ten had been evicted for the same rea­son.

That, cou­pled with dis­crim­i­na­tion in em­ploy­ment and other fac­tors, of­ten leads them to wind up home­less, where the abuse con­tin­ues. “We know from ex­pe­ri­ence that At­lanta’s no dif­fer­ent, that there’s a lot of hos­til­ity,” says trans­gen­der ac­tivist Jamie Roberts. “They don’t re­spect the dig­nity of trans folks, they’re con­stantly mis­gen­der­ing them, re­quir­ing them to change their clothes, they’re of­fer­ing only hous­ing that’s con­sis­tent with the gen­der they were as­signed at birth.”

That’s why in 2014, Roberts and other ac­tivists started Trans Hous­ing At­lanta, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion whose mis­sion is to pro­vide safe hous­ing for trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple in the metro At­lanta area. And things are be­gin­ning to heat up for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, with a fundraiser com­ing up, plans to con­duct a sur­vey on home­less­ness in At­lanta’s trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing com­mu­nity and a goal of procur­ing a shel­ter at some point in the fu­ture.

Over half ha­rassed at home­less shel­ters

Trans Hous­ing At­lanta not only aims to pro­vide emer­gency, in­ter­me­di­ate and longterm hous­ing and as­sis­tance for trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing At­lantans, but also to help change the way they are treated once they get there.

Ac­cord­ing to the na­tional study men­tioned above, which was pub­lished in 2011, nearly one in three re­ported be­ing turned

April 29, 2016

away from home­less shel­ters, and if they got in, 42 per­cent were forced to stay in fa­cil­i­ties des­ig­nated for the wrong gen­der. A star­tling 55 per­cent re­ported be­ing ha­rassed in shel­ters, with 25 per­cent say­ing they’d been phys­i­cally as­saulted and 22 per­cent say­ing they’d been sex­u­ally as­saulted.

In 2012, the U.S. De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment (HUD) stopped short of man­dat­ing a na­tional pol­icy on the is­sue, in­stead pub­lish­ing guid­ance for treat­ment of such in­di­vid­u­als seek­ing shel­ter. But that hasn’t ap­peared to have much ef­fect.

“It still con­tin­ues, it’s just ut­terly ridicu­lous,” says trans­gen­der ac­tivist Tracee McDan- iel, who serves along­side Roberts and three oth­ers on Trans Hous­ing At­lanta’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. “There are still peo­ple who are treat­ing trans peo­ple like they re­ally don’t care.”

McDaniel says the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been work­ing closely with lo­cal shel­ters, in­clud­ing the Sal­va­tion Army, to ed­u­cate them on the is­sue and con­nect trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple with them, and that so far the shel­ters they’ve worked with have been re­cep­tive.

Fundraiser, sur­vey and long-term goals

The all-vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion is mak­ing fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for a fundraiser to

Trans Hous­ing At­lanta Trans Hous­ing At­lanta’s Re­verse Role Va­ri­ety Show

April 29, 2016 at 6 p.m. The Mam­mal Gallery 91 Broad St. SW At­lanta, GA 30303 $10.00 in ad­vance (via PayPal or the group’s web­site) $15.00 at the door be held April 29 at The Mam­mal Gallery down­town. The Re­verse Role Va­ri­ety Show will in­clude singing, gui­tar, po­etry, dra­matic read­ings, com­edy and more as par­tic­i­pants com­pete for cash prizes.

“It’s a space where you can come and per­form ei­ther as your­self or your al­ter ego or an al­ter gen­der or how­ever you want to be seen and ex­press your­self,” Roberts says. Per­form­ers get in free and pro­ceeds from ticket sales will go to­ward serv­ing the hous­ing needs of At­lanta’s trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing com­mu­nity, as well as the needs of friends and al­lies.

The group is also in the be­gin­ning stages of work­ing with Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity to cre­ate a sur­vey to gather more in­for­ma­tion lo­cally about the hous­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of At­lanta’s trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing com­mu­nity. “That helps with data, that helps with get­ting fund­ing. There’s re­ally just not a lot of sta­tis­tics as far as trans peo­ple and home­less­ness,” McDaniel says.

And the goal is to even­tu­ally open up a shel­ter of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s own. “It’s de­signed to be a co­op­er­a­tive hous­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion where even­tu­ally the mem­bers who re­side in the house have a vote in the demo­cratic run­ning of the house,” Roberts says. “That’s ul­ti­mately our long-term vi­sion is to be a trans hous­ing co-op where it’s trans and gen­der non­con­form­ing folks and our friends and al­lies who are pro­vid­ing hous­ing for our­selves.”


Tracee McDaniel (l) and Jamie Roberts (r) serve on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of Trans Hous­ing At­lanta. (File pho­tos)

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