Homeless Black Trans women fund

This fund was started for a small community of Black Trans women living on the streets of Atlanta, many of whom are also sex workers. We now are not only able to help this community, but this project has grown into a unique opportunity to alleviate the chronic homelessness that exists among Trans people in Atlanta, especially among Black & brown Trans people.

Who I Am

My name is Jesse Pratt López. I am a Trans Latina from Colombia who calls Atlanta home. I use my experiences as a documentary photographer and grassroots activist to help folks from my community use their voices to resist systems of oppression and step into their own power. You can check out my photography at www.jprattlopez .photos.

Where We Started

I started this fund in mid-December 2019 to help a small group of Trans sisters I had met through ReVon Michaels, the “bougie queen” as she likes to call herself.

ReVon is a Sagittarius with a huge smile and laugh, and an even bigger appetite. I first met her when she was strutting down the sidewalk in front of a Publix in downtown Atlanta. She was wrapped in a large blanket; her wig haphazardly placed upon her head and her curls as big as her smile. She asked if I could spare some change. I was about to tell her no, I don’t carry cash and I’m broke. But when I took a closer look, I realized at that moment that I was seeing my sister. My Trans sister. One of the Gurlz. A T-Slur as they like to call us on PornHub.com or right before they violate us.

I told her that she looked beautiful and that I would be right back with some cash and a sandwich. When I returned she was so happy to see me. I asked her if I could take her picture.

I would come back every couple of days to visit ReVon, or she would come to my house. We hung out, shared food, and she introduced me to the other girls who live and work on the Hoe Stroll – Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia.

I began a photo project to document the everyday lives of these Black Trans women: mundane, ugly, beautiful. Society has abandoned and discarded these girls. But their strength lies not in their struggles; it is in their survival in the face of adversity and their existence in the face of oppression. While creating this body of work, I walked the stroll with them, not only in order to walk in their shoes, but also because as a Trans woman myself, I realized this: while the rest of the world wants us not to exist, we are here, we have always been here, and we’re not going anywhere.

ReVon calls me momma. I call her daughter. And sometimes the roles are reversed. In the Trans community, we are each other’s elders because many of us don’t have anyone to support us. Since we met, I have become really close with ReVon — and the circle of my chosen family has become a little bit bigger.

The Fund: Where It Began and Where It’s Going

Once we became close, ReVon and the girls would share stories about the violence they experienced on the streets of Atlanta: getting raped, robbed, shot, and almost killed. Survival sex work has historically been the only profession that many Trans women have been able to succeed in. Many girls, especially when they don’t pass for society’s ideal archetype of what a woman should be, are denied jobs, housing, and other opportunities.

Through my photography and presence in the Atlanta queer and trans arts and organizing scene, I saw a chance to get the girls the support and resources they needed. After initially raising $10,000 through this fund, I was able to secure them temporary housing through the winter holidays and assist with getting them necessities such as food, cell phones, clothes, and spending money. Eventually, I was also able to connect some of the girls to Jayme Stegar, the Lead Trans Outreach Specialist at Someone Cares Atlanta  Jayme was able to assist in finding  two of the girls a room in a rooming house led by Trans people. She has also been instrumental in connecting the girls to STI (sexually-transmitted infections) testing services and ensuring that they have the support to manage their immediate needs.

Unfortunately, by April 2020, we had run out of funds, at a time where the need was more pressing than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through contributions from so many generous people, we were able to raise an additional $10,000.

Shortly after meeting this second goal, as uprisings ignited across the country to protest the murder and injustice faced by Black lives, this campaign received a resurgence of support. With over 70,000 donors, we have been able to raise $2 million and the fund continues to grow. With this renewed support, it became clear that we can achieve positive, sustainable, and permanent changes for the larger community of Black & Brown Trans women in Atlanta.

To that end, I have surrounded myself with local Trans-led organizations such as Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative , Southern Fried Queer Pride  and the Trans Atlanta Housing Program , as well as service providers such as Someone Cares Atlanta , to begin working on a plan composed of smart goals for this transformed project. Further, I’ve been talking with the girls about their hopes for the future: what they need to build a stable foundation and what is now possible thanks to your support. 

With guidance and assistance from these organizations, I am working towards establishing a project guided by the Pathways Housing First model , based on the idea that “nothing in any person’s history or present precludes them from being able to be housed.” I have benefited greatly from the wise and kind input of Dr. Sam Tsemberis, the founder of Pathways to Housing in New York and originator of the Housing First model. Whether this project looks like funding for existing Trans-led providers or the creation of a new organization is yet to be determined. 

Our goal is and always will be to establish permanent housing in Atlanta for Trans people, particularly Black Trans women who are experiencing chronic homelessness and to ensure they have the wraparound services necessary to thrive.

If you want to support this, you can also donate directly to me, and avoid the GoFundMe transaction fee:

Cashapp: $jplopez22

Venmo: @PaegeTurner (last 4 #s: 6509)

PP: jprattlopez@/gmail.com

We will keep y’all posted here on what happens in the coming weeks and months & appreciate your contribution to this movement. #BlackTransLivesMatter.

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Jesse Pratt López 
Atlanta, GA
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