New Transgender Center In The Bronx
A new resource center for the transgender community will be opening in the Bronx later this month, the first of its kind for New York City. It’s called the Bronx Trans Collective, and is a collaboration between six organizations serving the community. City councilman Ritchie Torres has backed the project. Shandukani Mulaudzi visited the new center, and found that access to health care will be one of its primary missions.
MULAUDZI: On the basement floor of 937 Summit Avenue, a building not too far from Yankee Stadium, I meet Mister Cris. He’s unpacking some boxes and checking inventory for the grand opening of The Bronx Trans Collective.
CRIS: and the reason why we call it the Bronx Trans Collective this because it’s a collective of organizations and we want it to also be collective of resources
MULAUDZI : …resources like assistance with immigration, housing, group counselling and legal name changes. Mr. Cris is co-founder of Community Kinship Life, one of two organizations that will offer health care options and referrals to trans individuals. Because, he says, their needs haven’t always been taken seriously by the wider medical community.
CRIS: No other person outside of the transgender community feels like they can only go to one doctor. So we will have resource lists will let them know or listen these are the places that you can go…that offer the care that you need.
MULAUDZI: Needs like hormone replacement, gender confirming surgeries, plastic surgery and…
CRIS: HIV care, Hep-C care, prep which is pre-exposure prophylaxis to help with contracting HIV [0:05]
MULAUDZI : and they’ll even help with finding a PRIMARY care physician. Because, Mr Cris says, even something as simple as that can be a daunting experience for trans patients. Like for Courtney Washington, who waited 10 years before getting help finding a doctor.
WASHINGTON: I was getting my hormones blackmarket I wasn’t going to a doctor and I was afraid. Sometimes they act like they don’t want to touch you…
MULAUDZI: And other times doctors just ask the wrong questions like what happened to Michelle Green…
GREEN: I go to a foot doctor but they’re asking me about… they’re asking me if I’m pre-op or post-op and I’m like what does me being transgender have to do with my foot?
MULAUDZI: Green says she was also using black market pills because she didn’t have insurance. She says now that she has a doctor who understands her needs, she is healthier and knows what’s happening to her body.
GREEN: Right now my levels are very high so now I know that okay maybe I need to take a break from the hormones for a minute.
MULAUDZI: For Green it’s about time a center like this was opened in her neighbourhood.
GREEN: We have so many great organisations that are spread about and just to have one roof I think that would help me get the best care that I need and help the community get the best care that the community needs as a whole so that we can all be healthy and move to the next level.
MULAUDZI: What would that next level be? Well, Councilman Ritchie Torres, says that the other boroughs should start similar centers because trans people face levels of discrimination that most will never know. Torres himself will be cutting the ribbon at the grand opening on April 15.
Shandukani Mulaudzi, Columbia Radio News.