Chicago's TransLife Center opens, sets new standard for other cities

On Monday, July 16th, state and local officials, LGBT leaders, and the Chicago trans community alike celebrated the opening of Chicago House's TransLife Center in the Edgewater area.

The TransLife Center, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is a transgender-specific support center that provides transitional housing, legal services, job connections, and a myriad of other essential services to Chicago's transgender community.  It was created by nonprofit Chicago House as a response to the extremely high rates of unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and violence that many transgender Americans face from their early teens onward.

Specifically, the center was inspired by the experiences of a twenty-five year old trans woman named Vanessa, who had been disowned by her family after coming out and was homeless at the time she came to Chicago House.

After working with Vanessa, hearing her feedback on the lack of trans-specific information in the employment programs offered, and seeing her grow as a mentor for other trans participants, directors at Chicago House were inspired to create the TransLife Center to better serve Chicago's transgender community.

The trans community has historically been one of the most at-risk for experiencing un- (or under-) employment, violence, health coverage disparities, and long-term homelessness. Yet organizations like Chicago House and its TransLife Center are making the difference by providing trans people the means to overcome and create a better life for themselves.

During his speech at the TransLife Center's opening ceremony, Chicago House CEO Reverend Stan J. Sloan spoke of his hopes for the center "[setting] a new model and a new standard for other cities." GLAAD joins the Chicago trans community and Chicago House in celebrating the creation of the TransLife Center, and supports the creation of safe spaces for all LGBT people.