WBEZ | Chicago House http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-house Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Billboards demand respect for transgender women http://www.wbez.org/news/billboards-demand-respect-transgender-women-110535 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/transgender_140722_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ten billboards targeting misperceptions about transgender women are up on the South and West Sides of Chicago.</p><p>A pair of anonymous high-heel clad legs is paired with this message: &ldquo;She&rsquo;s just walking, not working. Respect transgender women.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think the biggest stigma is that trans are street workers,&rdquo; said Danielle Love, a peer outreach educator for <a href="http://www.chicagohouse.org/?post_causes=translife-center">TransLife</a>, a program of Chicago House. The nonprofit advocates for the transgender community and is behind the billboards.</p><p>&ldquo;My own personal story to tie into that is just 15 years of if I&rsquo;m walking to a store and I get stopped by the police and they say what are you doing? Where are you going. Why are you out here?&rdquo; Love said. &ldquo;Just by those questions and the fact I was pulled over, that already says right there a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>The intent of the campaign, which kicked off in July, is to blanket areas where there are fewer resources for transgender women who face many societal and health barriers. Soon posters will go in doctor&rsquo;s offices and health clinics. <a href="http://firebellydesign.com/">Firebelly Design</a> did the billboards pro bono.</p><p>Lex Lawson, housing manager of the TransLife Center, acknowledges some transgender women engage in sex work.</p><p>&ldquo;That is work and that&rsquo;s valid work. It&rsquo;s survival. There&rsquo;s no shame in that. This is more to say that that&rsquo;s not the only thing trans women are. They are more than sex workers and if they are, we need to examine why people feel that&rsquo;s the only option they have,&rdquo; Lawson said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to quantify the local transgender community in Chicago. But Chicago House encounters individuals who have difficulty accessing housing and employment. <a href="http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/fact_sheets/transsurvey_prelim_findings.pdf">National research</a> from a few years ago found widespread discrimination against transgender people.</p><p>&ldquo;All we want are equal rights as everyone else. We are employable. We are your neighbors,&rdquo; Love said.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/billboards-demand-respect-transgender-women-110535 Young man finds new hope after HIV diagnosis http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-man-finds-new-hope-after-hiv-diagnosis-109312 <p><p>When Justin Kelly came out to his adoptive mother, she sent him away.</p><p>But after he found out he was HIV positive two years ago, he finally found support&mdash;and a new outlook&mdash;through Chicago House, a social services agency for those affected by HIV and AIDS.</p><p>Kelly&mdash;who&rsquo;s also known by his drag moniker, Amber St. James&mdash;shared his story at Chicago House with friend Michelle Dunigan.</p><p>&quot;When I turned 12, I was starting to come to the conclusion that I was gay,&quot; Kelly said. &quot;So what my mother did, she asked me, &#39;So do you like men?&#39; she just asked me. I said, &#39;I don&rsquo;t know.&#39; So she sent me away. She sent me to an all-boys Christian camp to hide me away.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/amber st. james.jpg" style="width: 200px; height: 267px; float: right;" title="Amber St. James does drag at the Jackhammer in Rogers Park." /></p><div><p>Kelly said he didn&rsquo;t learn the lesson his adoptive mother intended. He became even more sure he liked boys, and picked up some handy survival skills to boot. Then his mother sent him to foster care.&nbsp;</p><p>A few years ago, he learned he was HIV positive.</p><p>&quot;I cried the entire way home, bawling out, crying like I found out someone was shot,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p><em>To find out how Kelly&rsquo;s mother reacted, and about his hopes for his future, listen to the audio above.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival. Follow her on Twitter @katiemingle.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-man-finds-new-hope-after-hiv-diagnosis-109312