Transgender Law Center, hosted a community forum to discuss homelessness and health care issues impacting the Los Angeles area transgender community on Monday, March 26th, at 6pm at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. (see flyer below)

Throughout the past ten years, Transgender Law Center has heard thousands of stories about discrimination in housing and health care. Billy Jean Whittenberg, an organizer of the event, has a personal connection to the issues and to Transgender Law Center.

“>Tell us about your experiences with homelessness in L.A.

I lived in a shelter in L.A. that wanted me to wake up early and use the men’s room, even though I am a transgender woman. In fact, there were times in my life where I had to change clothes several times a day in order to access the services I needed based upon which place was going to accept me as a transgender woman. I felt like sometimes I had to be superman at night, and superwoman in the day. Eventually an ally on staff at the shelter helped me change that, and when new transgender women came to the shelter, I organized with them to make some changes at the shelter. Knowing my rights and feeling empowered by the work Transgender Law Center does, helped a lot.

What about in health care?

You know, it’s about respect. Even in times when I received care, I often felt disrespected. We need to make sure every health care and housing facility treats people with dignity. I’ve been called “Mr.” and “He” in health care settings.

How has your life been impacted by Transgender Law Center?

Hugely. I lived in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, and Transgender Law Center came in and made changes with a housing situation I was in. The place wanted us trans women to be boys in order to access their facilities. That changed. Later, I went to Sacramento for Advocacy Day to help get bills passed and educate legislators. It was very empowering.

Please e-mail to share your housing and health care stories with Transgender Law Center so that we can share it online, with legislators,  and work to build programs that help.