Hello to the Editor of Seattle Gay News:
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying your weekend.
My name is Jeff and I am the Board Secretary for Point of Pride, a non-profit organization that works to support trans people in need around the world. One of our programs is an Annual Transgender Surgery Fund, which provides financial assistance to folks who would not be able to afford or obtain their gender-affirming surgeries.
We recently awarded $9,000 in direct support to two recipients.
One of our recipients, Armaan Singh, lives in Washington state. I thought this story might be of interest for you and your readership as a local piece. Some more information on Armaan's story can also be found here: http://pointofpride.org/meet-armaan-2017-annual-transgender-surgery-fund-recipient/
Point of Pride is a Eugene, Oregon-based non-profit organization dedicated to serving the transgender community.
Point of Pride awards two Trans recipients $9,000 in financial assistance for gender-affirming surgeries
Armaan Singh and Caden Williams are named as the 2017 Point of Pride Annual Transgender Surgery Fund recipients
o Armaan Singh from Washington state will receive $6,000 towards his gender-affirming surgery later this year. As part of his application process, Armaan shared with us his struggle to identify as a deeply religious Punjabi person as well as a transgender man; how LGBTQ issues are simply not accepted or discussed in his culture; his journey surviving conversion therapy; and his current financial need as a dedicated student who also works multiple jobs.
o Caden Williams from Oregon will receive $3,000 towards his gender-affirming surgery later this year. Caden's story was equally touching. He shared with us his financial need as an involved student and his work with multiple LGBTQ groups on campus; his lack of a support system; dealing with the loss of his father; and navigating the world aware of the intersectionality of being a black trans man.
In November 2016, Point of Pride received 477 applications for support from trans people around the world. In January, five finalists were selected for one-on-one support and the opportunity to receive funding.
In an effort to help the other three finalists also receive their gender-affirming surgeries, Point of Pride will continue to work one-on-one with them for the next 12 months. Support will include helping them obtain trans inclusive health coverage or fighting with their current providers for coverage, connecting them with health care providers and surgeons, and researching other funding opportunities on their behalf.
Donations are collected year-round for this life-changing program. You can support Point of Pride's mission by visiting www.pointofpride.org.
About Point of Pride
Point of Pride is a non-profit organization based in Eugene, Oregon that works to benefit transgender people in need around the world. Point of Pride has donated over $15,000 through the Annual Transgender Surgery Fund. www.pointofpride.org
MEET ARMAAN SINGH:
Point of Pride 2017 Annual Transgender Surgery Fund Recipient!
'My financial need is largely because of my coming out crisis with my family. I came out to them two years ago, and told them about my $3,000 savings for surgery, which I needed and wanted so devotedly... From there, my situation lost control. I was rejected by my family and forced to attend conversion therapy out of state... I was forced to use my savings to take care of my needs and my education.
Since getting out of conversion therapy, I now attend college where I have tremendous support. I have restarted my savings from square one. Currently, I am a full-time college student attending University of Washington Bothell and work on campus as a Social Justice Organizer to focus on creating a diverse and safe environment.
To boost my savings, I also took off campus jobs, and despite my increasing expenses, I managed to again save around $2,000 for my surgery. I still work hard, juggle multiple jobs while going to school only because my body needs this more than anything. The money I lost while going through my family crisis changed my life, and despite my savings as a student working full time, I need assistance very intensely to make ends meet.
I am a Punjabi Indian trans man of color. My community is deeply conservative and lacks space for men like me. I do not know a single queer or trans person, which often times leaves me heartbroken. It is one of the most soul-crushing feelings in the world, especially now that my family seems so distant to my reality...
So, I will continue my work to build communities for folks in an effort to protect them from what I have to feel. Currently, I give back to my community through my activism on campus. I primarily focus on creating events on campus that provide a safe space for dialogue on queer and trans issues, and help these folks find a community on campus. Just recently I organized a Dine and Dialogue entitled 'Say Hi to Bi - Understanding Bisexuality 101' that intended to break stereotypes around bisexuality.
I know my body like no one else and I cannot emphasize enough how badly my soul is yearning to be set free. To go back home, to work out in the day, to spend more time outside and not in my room trying to hide my body. It is not that I hate my body - in my culture, we see bodies as temples where you find peace, but in 21 years my temple hasn't felt that. I am craving that feeling.'
MEET CADEN WILLIAMS:
Point of Pride 2017 Annual Transgender Surgery Fund Recipient!
'I am an out-of-state student. I was born in Michigan and lived there my entire life until I moved to Oregon to go to the University of Oregon in 2014. I came here by myself without much financial support. My tuition with room and board is about $50,000 a year. I only can pay for about half of that amount with scholarships and personal loans, and I struggle to find the rest of the money every term. I have worked an office job through my University over the past two years, but due to that money going directly into my tuition I was never really able to save any of it. I am a Resident Assistant this year, which lowers the amount of money I have to pay for tuition to about $25,000, but I am now only allowed to work 5 hours a week at my office job, which leaves little room for saving for both surgery and a place to live next year (so as to not be homeless).
When I came to the University of Oregon I became very active in the community. I joined the UO OUTreach program, where we connect with high school GSAs [Gay-Straight Alliances] to be mentors and support them. We also host a GSA Visit Day where students visit the University of Oregon and participate in group activities and panels. Students are able to connect with peers from other schools and feel comfortable with being themselves around other individuals with shared identities. I went on an alternative student break to San Francisco during my first winter break to do service at the AIDS Memorial Grove, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and GLIDE, while learning about LGBTQ history such as the Stonewall Riots and Harvey Milk. Our trip focused on food and housing equity, violence, and the elderly in the community... I have also aided in the Queer Ally Coalition, which is a workshop program done at the University to improve allyship and educate students, employees of the University, and student workers. I aided in setting up the workshop, and have sat on a panel to talk about my experiences and answer questions. In 2015, I received the John R. Moore Award due to my achievements and strides working within the community.
I thought I would have to wait ten years after I graduated to be able to have the opportunity to have surgery. I have learned that the surgeon I want is within network for the University insurance, which means I could have surgery before I graduate. For me, as a black, queer transgender man, this is extremely important. This will help me feel not only comfortable but safe, too. With the recent political occurrences I am terrified for my life on a daily basis.
Having surgery will mean that I can change the gender marker on my birth certificate. It will mean not having ribcage pain that makes it hard to breathe. I can go out into my career unafraid that I will be turned down due to my identity. Without this fund, I am unsure that I would be able to get surgery any time in the near future.'
Courtesy of Point of Pride
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