YOUNG TRANSWOMEN IN JAMAICA NEED YOUR SUPPORT URGENTLY
The Larry Chang Foundation, a small organisation in Jamaica, is very urgently seeking to raise funds to assist a group of 25 young persons of gay and trans experience in Jamaica to stay off the streets and out of danger.
Violence and abuse towards LGBT people in Jamaica is endemic. Transwomen in particular face horrific human rights abuses from members of their community, including their own families.
In May, Malaysia was sleeping at her home. Somebody poured lighter fuel over her and set her on fire. Her injuries, physical and psychological, are extensive. She requires extensive medical and psychological support to recover.
LGBT people are driven out of their homes, either forcefully by their families, or through fear of these types of incidents, into extremely dangerous environments where they resort to any means to survive. Homelessness amongst the transgender population in particular is extensive, and with it all the social problems and vulnerabilities of living on the streets as an LGBT person in a particularly homophobic and transphobic country.
Shadiamond was 10 when her mother kicked her out onto the streets because she suspected she was different. By the time she made contact with the LGBT community in Kingston she had already spent the better part of a decade making life on the streets. She was a deeply traumatised, aggressive and sometimes violent survivor of the streets, who was HIV positive and refusing treatment because she had given up hope. The Larry Chang Foundation has supported her to come to terms with some of her experiences and her health has now improved as she is regularly accessing healthcare. She is also in school finishing her education, and found her new, upbeat and future thinking identity Shadiamond.
The Larry Chang Foundation delivers a holistic approach to supporting persons of trans experience and gay identifying persons to rebuild their lives. The foundation provides vital safe shelter, food and psychosocial care to support people through life-threatening and often traumatic situations. We then invest in their futures by connecting them to health care services, vocational and skills training opportunities, so they can live fulfilling and productive independent lives.
It costs just £400/ U$525 to provide this support to one beneficiary each month.
The Larry Chang Foundation urgently requires funds to enable us to continue providing this vital support to the 25 individuals currently in the programme, for the next 6 months and ensure that they can move on equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to live independent fulfilling lives.
That’s only £60,000/ U$78,000 so we can continue to provide lifesaving and life-changing support and care – and a chance at a future - for these 25 young people who have faced unimaginable hardships and discrimination.
SashaBerry says: “Since moving to the house I don’t have to do the things I used to do to survive. I have health and HIV check-ups and can receive medical help and regularly take my medication. I want to train as a nail technician and one day hope to be able to go to school to study. I hope that in the future I can live openly and freely as the woman I am.”
The Larry Chang Foundation’s mission is to provide access to safe shelter, food, psychosocial support and training for homeless and displaced persons of trans experience and gay identified persons enabling them to live fulfilling and productive lives ultimately reintegrating them back into society
Our key programme activities are centred around:
◘ Shelter; providing safe shelter in various models (group housing or independent living)
◘ Improve Health Outcomes; individualised care plans, meals that support diet plans & access to and retention in discrimination free healthcare
◘ Psychosocial support & Life Skills Training; Provide access to counselling sessions (group and one-on-one) based on care plans as well as Empowerment sessions
◘ Improve Employability; remedial educational programmes, employability workshops and readiness seminars & documentation such identification, TRN etc
The Larry Chang Centre was set up as an initiative which was born out of a partnership between JFLAG & Dwayne's House out of the need to provide homeless LGBT youth with sustainable shelter, psycho-social support and training. It builds on the foundation of Dwayne's House established by Yvonne McCalla-Sobers and others. This campaign was initially set up to raise funds for the purchase of a property but we have now identified a private donor who has agreed to undertake this.
“These are beautiful people - the bravest in fact. To live in a country which is against them, where every day they face death, and yet they refuse to be silenced. Join us in our stand with them, and help them change their fate.”
Watch the Vice Documentary here: https://news.vice.com/video/young-and-gay-jamaicas-gully-queens-full-length
Learn about Larry Chang Foundation & J FLAG at the links below:
A famous case story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Dwayne_Jones
UPDATE: JUNE 2020
DUE TO COVID19 : JAMAICA HAS HAD A CURFEW AND THE COUNTRY HAS COMBATTED THE VIRUS BRILLIANTLY. MANY ARE DISPLACED DURING THIS TIME. PARTICULARLY TRANS SEX WORKERS AS IT HAS AFFECTED THEIR ABILITY TO WORK, EARN AND HAS ADDED EVEN MORE STRESS ONTO THEIR ENDLESS WORRY.
UPDATE: JULY 2019
"God Save the Gully Queens"
Unfortunately the struggle continues.
As we are in Pride month I thought we would offer updates and recirculate the GO FUND ME fundraiser to help young transwomen of Jamaica, whose lives are at risk daily because of their gender and sexuality.
If you have a moment, please share this with your friends- the wider outreach the better + anything helps. We are trying to help Larry Chang Foundation (the Caribbean’s only response to homelessness among Gay and Trans Youth) raise money to secure a safe house, and a vehicle to safely transport the young occupants to and from their appointments.
What has changed with funding to date:
- The program is becoming cohesive. 12 women are now engaged in school, skills training and receiving healthcare.
- Some women have been able to leave and seek asylum. 8 persons left last year from gaining positive tolls through the program with the support of rainbow railroad https://www.rainbowrailroad.com/
Details on housing + what the funding raised will go towards
- Larry Chang Foundation is near completing the procurement of the main property/safe house, to house some 14 people. They still need 1million JMD (Approximately £6.5k) to close the sale.
- The facility will need refurbishing to make it secure and suited to the needs of the project.
- The house will need furniture to make it inhabitable and some office furniture for the designated work spaces for staff.
- A vehicle that can safely bring the tenants to and from their appointments.
Sadly, there still is a large number of people on the road. Larry Chang Foundation continues to receive weekly referrals for people in great need of shelter.
In the past 2 months alone there were 12 such transgendered referred, however space limitations hindered their total rescue seeing only the most critical in terms of health selected.
Larry Chang Foundation hopes to own another property and scale up the sustainability of the transgender protection program.
These houses will offer medical care and safe shelter.
Last month in Jamaica:
Two of Larry Chang Foundation beneficiaries were attacked, while walking down the hill from the safe house to attend their scheduled clinic appointment. The perpetrator was injured by one of our clients who, acting in self- defense, disarmed him of his knife and thrust him to the ground before managing to escape back to the safety of the house. The perpetrator went into the local village and told the community that the entire house had attacked him. As a result, several men surrounded the house and told the young people that they would have to leave the community, or they will be under attack. Unfortunately the house was torched a few days later at approximately 4am. Thankfully the blaze was extinguished before the property was completely destroyed, and a small grant received to secure the premises for a few days.
While a police investigation is ongoing, the most recent attack has heightened fears among the transgendered refugees and staff alike.
What is needed now is safe and secure Transportation in and out of the community as they cannot remain prisoners in the home but need to be able to get on with their lives. They need regular access health interventions and some are also in school.
Some U$10,000 is needed to purchase a suitable vehicle which seats a minimum of 7 to transport at least 7 persons at a time. At the moment the only way in and out of the community involves a now dangerous 2 mile walk to the main road.
- Lillian Abells
- Diocelin Gomez
Organizer and beneficiary