The Trans Wellness Center (TWC) opened its doors on Wilshire Boulevard near South Vermont Avenue in April 2018, bringing together services and resources for transgender and gender non-conforming people under one roof.
The community-based effort is a partnership between six local organizations: APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, Bienstar, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), Friends Community Center, Translatin@ Coalition, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center which is the lead agency coordinating management and operations.
LGBT News Now chatted with TWC Program Manager Mariana Marroquin about the one-year milestone.
This is the first anniversary of TWC. How do you feel things are going?
Marroquin: “I’m very proud of the team that we have created here; together, we’ve been able to create a safe space for the people in our community who need services the most. Still, this is just the beginning of work that needs to get done.”
How has the response been from the clients?
Marroquin: “We have people outside of Los Angeles calling asking how they can get services. We even hear from people from outside the country who are excited about the work that we’re doing. It’s important to show the community that when we come together, we grow stronger.
“When someone gets a job with help from our employment assistance program, other women get inspired. It’s like a chain reaction; that’s a great thing.
“We also have a lot of parents coming in with their kids. They are afraid and worried about their kid’s future. They come through the door and they see us working in positions of power and providing services. I think it gives them peace of mind.”
What has surprised you the most during the first year?
Marroquin: “Every day I get messages from people asking, ‘What do you need? How can I get involved?’ For clients who might feel like their life doesn’t matter, I share with them that there are people who are willing to help and hold their hands.”
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in year one?
Marroquin: “The transgender community and the gender non-conforming community are still dealing with a lot of trauma. We need to be able to continue doing the work while we’re healing.”
Where do you hope TWC will be this time next year?
Marroquin: “Mental health services are something we need more of with counselors from the community. We want to have more educational and employment programs.
“I was so inspired by the opening of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, seeing all the people with big hearts who want us to be successful. We can dream big. I never imagined we’d have this space and now it’s a reality. I think it’s time for us to start dreaming and accomplishing our goals.”
What do you want people to know the most about TWC?
Marroquin: “This is a place where you can reach out to at any point in your life. If you are thinking about transitioning or have someone in your life who is struggling, you can call us. You will find someone who you can talk with, who will understand immediately what you are going through.
“I think there was a time when the transgender community just wanted to survive. Now, we are working to thrive.”