By Gil Diaz
As a new member of the Center’s Board of Directors, Jordan Held, LCSW, looks forward to helping create greater strides in the Center’s work, including those benefiting the trans and nonbinary community.
“It’s important we take the best step forward and ensure our work is provided to everyone in the LGBTQ community, especially with the Center CEO transition approaching,” said Held, a Boston native. “No organization is perfect, but the trans community is expecting the Center to expand and sustain more trans-related services and programs.”
Held migrated to Los Angeles in 2015 to attend graduate school at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs—the same time when he began his own gender journey and came to the Center seeking services as a Health Services client. His life-affirming experience as a Center client influenced his decision to fulfill his graduate program’s internship requirements with the Center’s Senior Services and Children, Youth & Family Services, respectively.
It was also during his graduate school studies when Held had the opportunity to select Center CEO Lorri L. Jean as his mentor through the Luskin School’s leadership career training program. Known as the Senior Fellows Leadership Program, the program provides students with individual access to policymakers and community leaders, such as Jean.
“I jumped at the opportunity to have Lorri as my mentor. I knew who she was—as well as the Center’s important work—before I arrived in California,” Held recalled. “Lorri has this wealth of knowledge which she has been happy to share with me. We have this symbiotic relationship: she shares her expertise about the Center with me; I share my insights as a trans-identified person and professional with her.”
Continuing his life’s work to improve the lives of trans people, Held works at the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the nation’s largest multidisciplinary program of its kind which currently serves 1,700 gender-diverse youth and young adults ages 3–25 and their families. Held’s specialty includes gender-affirming therapy for youth living with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma, oftentimes related to societal-based stigma and violence pertaining to their gender identity.
“I didn’t come out as trans until I was 30 years old, and I realized that working with the trans community was precisely what I wanted to pursue professionally,” Held said. “There’s a hole in the breadth of services offered to my community, and there are enough cisgender providers mandating which services are given to trans people. I want to change that.”
Since joining the Board of Directors in January, Held has attended its meetings via videoconference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, a global health crisis can’t deter his determination within the Center to give a voice to the trans community. To him, the ongoing attacks on trans people, particularly trans women of color, is also a global crisis.
“There is a constant barrage of political attacks on gender identity and the value of trans people. The support and affirmation of one’s identity means everything—it’s the difference between life and death,” he lamented. “As a Board member, I want to uplift the voices of marginalized folks within the LGBTQ community. Many of them have not been able to have a strong voice—so here I am.”
Held lives in Studio City with his long-term partner Lauren and their German Shepherd Husky mix rescue dog, Kingston.