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The Kay Trans Haiti Center: Providing Refuge for Trans Lives and Creating A More Welcoming Community

(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Within the black community, we often see homophobic violence running rampant throughout our streets and homes. Some say it’s the need to conform to traditional and religious values, and it’s not such a far fetched idea being that the the black church is at the center of most African American’s lives. Aligning one’s morals with church values is something that’s been seen all throughout African American history and has forced many to choose between one of the two: their faith or their identity.

Nonetheless, it seems the socially conservative nation, Haiti is taking the steps to put an end to the prejudice and discrimination against the LGBTQ community as hundreds of transgenders find refuge at the Kay Trans Refuge Center. 

Nineteen-year-old transgender Donald Normil watches roommate Laurent Voltus apply makeup in a bedroom they share with other residents at the Kay Trans Haiti center (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Haiti is a fairly small island located within the Caribbean Sea with an estimated population of 11.1 million people. With such a large community, there are many who must live in fear of their life simply based on their sexual/gender identity. 

Thankfully, the trans community now have a safe haven right in the city’s capital where they can live in their own skin and be accepted amongst all. Funded by a Spanish healthcare company and the United Nations Development Program, the facility provides a number of services including lodging and care for up to 10 transgenders, a free psychologist to help manage the stress, anxiety and trauma of being trans and programs set in place to provide assistance once they graduate from the center. 

Resident braids her roommates hair on the porch of Key Trans Haiti center (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Transgender Endy Doblasse, 23, clears off her bed as she prepares to lie down for a nap in the room she shares with three other residents at the Kay Trans Haiti center (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Not only has the center impacted those within its doors but it’s surrounding community as well. According to The Washington Post, residents claim that the neighborhood surrounding the center has become a lot more accepting of the trans people that live within the facility and has allowed the outside community to become more sympathetic to the struggles they face. Without a lack of understanding, ignorance is sure to follow in its path. 

In a quote retrieved by The New York Times one of the trans residents at the center who was born a male at birth explains her joy of being able to embrace herself and her femininity without anyone telling her she can't.

“I am proud of myself now because I can wear women’s clothes and go everywhere,’’ she said. " At my mother’s home I can’t be like that."

While better days may lie ahead for LGBTQ members living within Haiti and beyond, there is still much work that needs to be done in all settings; that includes our homes, our boardrooms and the white house. Of the many islands that make up the Caribbean Islands, very few have yet to legalize same-sex marriage and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. 

Within 7 months of 2020, at least 28 trans people have been murdered in comparison to last year's numbers that capped at 26 by the end of the year, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Slowly but surely, laws that protect the LGBTQ community are diminishing and the laws that discriminate against them steadily increase. 

It’s a long and treacherous road we face towards equality, but the fight must not end until it’s achieved. Injustices continue to plague our world now more than ever and it’s up to us to provide a safer and more progressive world for the generation to come. 

If you or anyone you know is a member of the LGBTQ community that faces danger within their homes or simply needs a listening ear, there are resources out there to help. The TrevorLifeline provides counseling around the clock geared towards members of the LGBTQ community. You can call now at 1-866-488-7386. #TransLivesMatter #TransIsBeautiful #LGBTQLivesMatter


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