A few weeks ago the country’s first-ever Trans Wellness Center opened in Los Angeles, California, providing a variety of services to transgender residents. The center houses six different local organizations under one roof and will provide hormone therapy and transition resources, HIV testing and care, mental and sexual health services and education, occupational training and housing and legal services, among others.
The 3,000-square-foot center houses six organizations providing services to a trans clientele. The six include the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT); Bienestar, a bilingual housing organization that also provides youth and leadership development programs; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which provides trans youth health services; Friends Community Center, a group that provides substance abuse counseling; TransLatin@ Coalition, an organization that educates and empowers trans community leaders; and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which is providing management and operational support for the new Trans Wellness Center.
“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,” says Mariana Marroquin, program manager of the Trans Wellness Center.
Because Los Angeles is so geographically spread out, it’s difficult for people seeking these services to trek across the city to access them. The intention of the Center is to remove a lot of the roadblocks, harassment or discrimination trans people face when their trying to access services.
Many trans youth get thrown out on the streets after they come out, leaving them to wonder where to turn for help, especially for a place to stay. This Trans Wellness Center will provide a safe space for those who feel misunderstood by everyone else — a safe place staffed by people who know that each trans individual’s journey is unique and may not look like others’ journeys.
A lack of community health services compels some trans people to get their hormones from the black market, back alley dealers or to go to “pumpers,” unlicensed cosmetic surgeons who inject hazardous industrial grade substances into trans people’s bodies, sometimes to deadly or disfiguring effects.
Other trans people have had to travel to different countries just to secure hormone therapy or transitional surgery.
The hope is that L.A.’s new Trans Wellness Center will help a new generation of trans people avoid these hardships in their path towards self-actualization.
The Center was funded through a $1 million annual grant for three to five years from the L.A. County Department of Public Health and is guided by an eight-person Community Advisory Board comprised of trans and non-binary people to ensure community needs are met.
The Trans Wellness Center is located at 3055 Wilshire Boulevard (in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood) and is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.