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Groups partner to support trans youths

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A $2 million grant will fund support for a trans youth program for the next five years.

The Damien Center is partnering with Trans Solutions Research and Resource Center. The program will put its focus on trans youths of color.

Advocates say when people look at the LGBTQ community, transgender youths of color often face the widest margin of disparity.

Although Pride Month is a celebration, it’s important to point out that it didn’t’ start out that way. It started out as a fight for justice.

Navigating life as a trans person presents challenges, a journey Ivanna Miller and Sa’hara Miller know well.

“When you were growing up in the saying you have to grow fast. So with that, when I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of resources that we have for the trans community,” Sa’hara Miller said.

They are just a couple of the people working to change the odds of transgender youths, helping launch the trans youth program, with $2 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program in part is aimed at HIV prevention, affirming care, and addressing health disparities.

Ivanna Miller said, “This is 2022, and I feel like people should be able to live their lives for who they are, and, with this program in these organizations, we want the younger youths to know that they have someone here to help them know that their lives matter.”

Trans Solutions is a Black-led organization providing vital perspective and support for Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the trans community. They’ve partnered with the Damien Center to expand the work.

“That’s why this one stop here has to be an intentional stop. It can’t be about performance. It can’t be about numbers. It can’t be about anything other than changing the trajectory of what that young person’s life looks like,” said Marissa Miller, Trans Solutions executive director.

Program representatives Marissa miller and Fletcher Elliott say in this work it’s also important to address other issues like poverty, generational and religious trauma. Data also shows trans youths who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color will more often contemplate suicide.

“It means so much to me especially when there aren’t enough safe spaces for our trans youth of color. And there wasn’t a safe space for me for a very long time,” said Fletcher Elliot, the trans youth program director with Damien Center.

While the trans community often doesn’t get the attention, the push for change has grown from a 50-year-old legacy of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 in New York City.