NOT THE END, JUST THE BEGINNING
Our program targeting young trans women of color, or "T-LISH" was one of the many programs that ended in September. Funded through a subcontract from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, T-Lish was one of many successful and robust HIV prevention programs targeting youth of color nationally that were not refunded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's never fun to say goodbye to a program that you love, but somehow T-Lish managed to bring its usual charm and flair to their going away gala. Many of the group members showed up early to help set up. Throughout the day they transformed the Banyan Room into a wonderful ballroom, complete with giant hand-made bows on each chair, a disco ball themed photo area, all topped off with a chocolate fondue fountain.
With over 40 participants, all dressed to impress, the evening played out as more of a celebration of the T-Lish spirit than a going away party. Throughout the night respected members of the transgender community took to the stage to encourage the T-Lish youth to stay close. "This is not the end, this is just the beginning," one of the speakers told the crowd. "If you stick together nothing can stop you."
At the end of the evening each of the T-Lish participants were given a special, custom-made pin to wear. "These are your sisters" they were told, "whenever you see someone wearing this pin you know to look out for each other." Hugs were exchanged as all of the participants who received their pins posed for a photo with all of the T-Lish Staff, both past and present, as well as community members who had spoken that evening. And as the chairs were stacked and the tables put away, the T-Lish girls collectively planned where they were going to go next that evening. After all, this was just the beginning. TRANS:THRIVE will continue serving transgender youth through its many programs and collaborations.