Homeless shelter for trans youths opens in San Francisco

San Francisco Pride Parade 2016

America’s ‘first’ homeless shelter for trans young people has opened in San Francisco.

The three-bedroom house has room for six people between the ages of 18 to 24. It opened quietly nearly two months ago, according to reports from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Five trans young people currently live in the refuge, which will allow its residents to stay for two years, offering them a safe haven from transphobia and abuse.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the shelter is the nation’s first long-term transitional living program specifically for homeless trans young people. 

Christopher Rodriguez, a manager at the house, explained that trans youth have more complex needs than the rest of the LGBT+ community.

“Transgender youths have more medical needs, and they have a whole added extra layer of trauma,” said Rodriguez. “Many need hormone therapy, surgeries, preparation for surgeries,” he told the SF Chronicle.

Transphobia rife in homeless shelters

Rodriguez added: “They’re outed more easily than others — a gay man can pass as not gay if he wants to, but generally not someone who’s trans. So they get more attention, and not the good kind. And more violence. That takes a lot of careful work to heal.”

One of the residents spoke to the SF Chronicle about their past experiences of homeless shelters.

22-year-old Bobby Perez, whose parents are homeless, was staying in a Larkin Street shelter when she was told about the trans house. At one of her previous shelters, someone left tampons on her bed to taunt her.

“Now that I’m stable in a safe place, it’s about, ‘Who am I?’” Perez told the SF Chronicle. “I want to see where I can go. I just have to find a passion now.”

Larkin Street Youth Services, which is the leading homeless-youth agency in the city, is renting the house and running the trans program.

90% of homeless trans youths rejected by their families

According to Gregory Lewis, executive director of a nonprofit for LGBT homeless youths in Washington D.C, the trans house is extremely important.

Lewis’s organisation, True Colors United, ran two surveys in 2012 and in 2015, which showed that 75% of LGB homeless youth are rejected by their families, and the figure is 90% for trans youths.

About 40% of the 1.6 million homeless youths are LGBT, and 3% are trans, according to True Colors United.