Originally published in Philadelphia Gay News
May 15, 2014
By Dawn Munro
The lives of transgender folks can be difficult. But if you are trans, Philadelphia is arguably the place to be. The city, through the Fair Practices Ordinance, provides legal protections that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, orientation, gender identity, or presentation. In most other parts of Pennsylvania, it is still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.
On the bright side, several cities and 33 municipalities in the state have in place transgender protections. A broad, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill is under consideration in the General Assembly.
A key example of support for the trans community is Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Health Conference (PTHC). In 2013 there were more than 3,400 attendees from around the world.
This year’s conference, the 13th, is scheduled from June 12 through June 14 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Many programs and workshops specifically for trans older adults are on the schedule. One such program is a panel discussion, hosted by the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI). This discussion about navigating the aging services network will be followed by a resource fair. Representatives of many of the area’s aging services providers will be available to discuss their services and your concerns, one-on-one, with you.
One of the most basic needs for trans people, and older trans people in particular, is housing. Housing assistance is available through many service and advocacy organizations. The Office of Supportive Housing at (215) 686-7147 is one source of assistance. Another is the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE). You can call the CARIE LINE at (215)-545-5728 for advice on housing and many other resources. If they can’t answer your questions, they can tell you who can find answers.
Comprehensive primary health care and trans-related services are available at Mazzoni Center. These services include mental health and legal services. The Center produces a directory of services that is of particular help to those looking to identify physicians, therapists, fitness centers, and more.
The Trans Wellness program, a service provided by Transwomen for Transwomen, is available at Mazzoni’s Washington West facility. The Sisterly Love program, supported by the True Care Clinic, is also at Wash West. The program provides outreach services for sex workers. Contact the folks at Mazzoni at (215)-563-0652 x232 or call the medical clinic at (215)-563-0658.
Equally important, but less well known, are the services available through TPAC and John F. Kennedy Behavioral Health Center (JFK). TPAC provides HIV/HCV counseling and testing, referrals for primary and HIV care, a clothing and food bank, and a weekly support group open to anyone in the trans community. JFK provides mental health and alcohol and other drug counseling to people covered by medical assistance. People who are uninsured and eligible for BHSI funding or who are homeless, in shelter or live in the Center City / lower North Philadelphia areas are also eligible. TPAC can be reached at (215) 988-9970 and JFK at (215) 568-0860.
Free, anonymous HIV testing is available in many locations: Washington West, GALAEI, PhiladelphiaFIGHT, and ActionAIDS, are just a few.
Philadelphia has three hospitals that have a reputation for providing caring, competent and non-judgmental care for trans patients: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Hahnemann University Hospital. The greater Philadelphia area also has three renowned surgeons providing services to the trans community.
Community Legal Services (CLS) provides free legal assistance, representing people who have legal problems including obtaining Medical Assistance (MA or Medicaid). Free legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS are available at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania at (215) 587-9377. You can reach CLS by calling (215) 981-3700 or (215) 227-2400.
The William Way Community Center (WWCC), is the spiritual home for many in the LGBT community and much of WWCC’s social programing is trans-inclusive. You can reach WWCC at (215) 732-2220.
Philadelphia is becoming a truly trans- and age-friendly city. These and other resource and services are available to support the trans communities as we age. A more complete list of resources is available from the LGBT Elder Initiative. You can get a copy of this list by contacting the LGBTEI at (267) 546-3448 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or by attending our workshop and resource fair on Thursday, June 12 at PTHC.
Dawn Munro is a transgender activist and a volunteer with the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI). The LGBTEI fosters and advocates for services, resources and institutions that are competent, culturally sensitive, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of LGBT elders. You can contact the Elder Initiative at INFO@LGBTEI.ORG or call 267.546.3448.