Gilead Sciences: Tatiana Williams Leads
Gilead Sciences – Tatiana Williams experienced numerous difficulties and problems as a young trans woman growing up in Florida, but she did not have access to many supports.
Like many of my acquaintances, I struggled to find secure accommodation, so I engaged in sex work to get by, says Tatiana. “I knew acquaintances who died from AIDS-related illnesses or senseless murders.”
Tatiana first started thinking more broadly about what she and her friends needed to keep safe and healthy while attending a support group for sex workers. She started talking to influential people to bring about change, and as a result, she was chosen to join the Florida Department of Health’s Transgender Health in Action organisation, which offers peer-to-peer training for the trans community on topics including safety, health, and stigma.
Additionally, Tatiana founded Transinclusive Group, a Black-led Trans people’s rights advocacy organisation in Florida, out of her enthusiasm for helping her community find a safe space and access to services. The charity provides everything, including aid in changing people’s gender on state identification cards, HIV counselling, and job training.
Grantee of Gilead TRANScend
Tatiana, however, witnessed firsthand how housing instability can have an effect on health and wellbeing. The needs of the community are constantly changing. She put a plan into action this year to fix it, and with the help of a Gilead TRANScend grant, the Transinclusive Group launched CHOICES, a peer-run seven-bed housing initiative. The programme is meant to be temporary. During their time in housing, residents can receive one-on-one case management, financial counselling, job training, and preventative healthcare.
Tatiana adds, “In this place, we can bond over our common life experiences. “A lot of the people in our community are dealing with difficulties, so healthcare sometimes takes a back seat. We’re able to keep them here.
Although the programme is off to a strong start, the demand already exceeds the supply. For instance, the housing programme is ill-equipped to deal with those who suffer from severe mental illnesses, and it lacks the security to help those who are trying to escape violence.
People are constantly reaching out, but Tatiana believes that we can only do so much. “Our objective is to use this model and the data we collect to see if we can acquire more backing and possibly a larger space.” This peer-run housing programme model for transgender people offers a priceless resource to the area.
You are at a place where you know people are sympathetic to your plight and won’t judge you, Tatiana explains. She wants to strengthen the community for the future, not merely get people out of a crisis situation. “How can we become more resilient? She says, “How can we raise our standard of living together? Tatiana is certain that community is the solution.
Tatiana explains, “We’re doing this together and you’re not alone.” We are meeting you exactly where you are, we see you, and we understand you.