Hola Amigas! We have some event notes and updates for you on this fine fall day. In this article are notes from the Chicago Trans Coalition Meeting, which Amigas is proudly a part of and attends regularly. These are resources that Amigas finds out about and passes onto you and whomever might need them. It is important to take advantage of all the services and opportunities available in Chicago—attend, participate, and utilize!
First up is a new program called QUEST. It is an alternative sentencing program designed for trans women charged with misdemeanor prostitution. This is a one-day 8hour seminar that educates trans women about trauma related issues, domestic violence, HIV/STI’s, substance abuse, gender identity, and self esteem. Participants can be one-time or repeat offenders, and will receive additional training on housing, GED, computer skills, and free/confidential HIV prevention, counseling, and testing.
Participants who successfully complete QUEST can have their case dismissed and record expunged—thought this does take up to a year to occur, plus standard legal fees. QUEST is the first program of its kind in the U.S. to directly serve the trans community. Currently there is a $25.00 registration fee, however, various fundraising efforts are being coordinated to hopefully eliminate that fee. QUEST meets every 3rd Friday of each month at 2813-15 West Fifth Avenue, Chicago. Their number is 773-533-5600 (ext. 3512). They are a part of the Footprints Program run by the Christian Community Health Center.
The program is in its early existence, having started this May, but it has been receiving positive feedback from participants and judges. The 23rd District of the Chicago Police Department is aware that this program is in place. Each class is about 7 to 10 participants all of different backgrounds and identity, though again, the program is for trans women and addresses their specific needs (like gender identity). Tricia Ford, Director of Footprints Services, is the contact person at QUEST. Call QUEST directly at the number above.
Also, Van was recently part of giving cultural competency training to participants at A Safe Place: Lake County Crisis Center. He was part of a panel of professionals training 10 individuals about LGBTQ sensitivity and domestic violence. In his speech he stressed the importance of using correct pronouns and name, allowing the trans individual to be the expert of their experience, and asking polite, relevant questions. Taking time to ask a trans person what pronoun/name they’d like to be addressed by is crucial to care and demonstrates respect, regardless of a person’s knowledge of trans issues.
The volunteers and staff at A Safe Place are LGBTQ friendly and inclusive, so they are a good resource to look for in the north. They are located at 2710 17th Street Suite 100, Zion IL. Their Help Line is 847-249-4450 and 800-600-SAFE. They can be emailed at email@example.com, or accessed through www.asafeplaceforhelp.org. The contact there is Kate Cothell, and she is the Volunteer and Outreach Specialist. Contact her or A Safe Place by calling directly and/or emailing the info address. They do have volunteers who speak Spanish and who regularly work with/for the Latino community all over Illinois. This is an excellent resource if you are out in the northern suburbs and cannot access the city’s resources. Amigas is all over Illinois, supporting programs like these.
Thirdly, in addition to national LGBT Crisis Lines, we’d like to tell you about Pride Call, which is located in Illinois and operates Monday through Friday, from 4pm to 8pm. They are staffed by fully trained volunteers and have a board that meets regularly. Volunteers keep all information confidential and are trained to discuss trans issues and questions. You can find out more about Pride Call at www.pridecall.org. Pride Call provided the training for A Safe Place and they are a group of friendly, passionate people. Pass this info onto anyone who might be able to utilize this resource, especially as October is National Coming Out Month.
Also at the Trans Coalition Meeting was a representative from the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project. She gave an overview of the female condom project and how it relates to the trans community. The FC2 (second version of the female condom) is FDA approved, softer, seamless, quieter, now more affordable, and non-allergenic for people with latex allergies. The FC2 is for everyone to use cis and trans, straight, gay, queer, etc. It is currently the only receptive-partner initiated STI, HIV, and pregnancy prevention tool available. It works for both vaginal and anal intercourse. It’s a viable, affordable, empowering option for whoever carries and uses one.
More and more Walgreens pharmacies will have the FC2 available for purchase in packs of three. Agencies and organizations throughout Chicago (especially those who work with the Chicago Department of Public Health) will/should have free FC2’s to hand out. The Women’s AIDS Project is strengthening their campaign to make the FC2 more accessible and affordable for everyone. It comes in a small, white package with an expiration date, and while it’s more expensive than a regular condom, people do report more pleasure with the FC2. Definitely something to look into! I was once told that you can always be having safer sex. For more information about the FC2 and the campaign, go to www.ringonit.org.
So, these are four new resources for you to access:
—A Safe Place Crisis Center in Zion, IL
—Pride Call LGBT Crisis Line in Illinois
—the new and improved FC2
We’re working hard to keep you updated with the newest events, resources, and opportunities for our communities in and around Chicago. Keep checking back because we update frequently—and you never know who might be able to utilize these resources. Repost, reblog, and link us!
Enjoy your day, let’s hope for more sunshine.