FOR YOUR HEALTH!

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By: Tina Monje, Freelance Journalist

For the Gworls (International)

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Asanni Armon, courtesy of For the Gworls

If you haven’t already heard of this Brooklyn-based mutual aid fund, then you’ll be thrilled to learn about it now. Created by Asanni Armon, a black genderqueer artist from Atlanta, Georgia and currently based in New York, For the Gworls provides funds to Black transgender people internationally to help with rent, costs related to healthcare, and the cost of gender-affirming surgery. 

This project began in 2019 when Armon decided to host a roof party to fundraise for two friends who were facing eviction. Since then, this party-based fundraising mutual aid effort in New York has grown into an international effort to support Black transgender and gender-nonconforming (GNC) people. 

Applications are currently closed due to their high volume of applications, but according to Armon, they plan to open applications again in July once the chaos of Pride month is over. They are currently campaigning to raise $500,000 through the remainder of Pride month to meet the needs of their current rent wait-list, to “get through 20 people on [their] surgery waitlist,”
to provide “assistance with medicine and doctor’s visit co-pays,” to pay their Black, transgender staff who work hard to sift through applications, fundraise, and communicate with fund recipients, and to ensure that they have enough funds to open applications again. 

Although the pandemic halted their ability to host their renowned parties, For the Gworls has and continues to accept donations so they can continue to distribute supportive funds to the Black transgender community around the world. 

Donations to their fund during these last few days of Pride month (and whenever!) are greatly appreciated.

Support For the Gworls | Learn more

Native American Community Clinic (Minneapolis)

Courtesy of Native American Community Clinic

Located in the Ventura Village corner of East Phillips in Minneapolis, Native American Community Clinic (NACC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center that was founded 18 years ago and has recently begun to grow. NACC welcomes everybody, “regardless of their ability to pay,” says Antony Stately (Ojibwe/Oneida), NACC’s gay and Two Spirit Chief Executive Officer of five years who grew up in the neighborhood.

Nested on Franklin Avenue along the American Indian Cultural Corridor, NACC offers primary care, dental, intensive outpatient, medication assisted treatment (Suboxone) for opioid use disorder, behavioral health services, free social services and insurance navigation, and HIV treatment and case management. Alongside these services, NACC’s team includes two staff elders who are available to meet with patients and a traditional medicine committee that maintains the clinic’s sage garden and ensures medicines are available to the community. The clinic provides  culturally-specific community engagement and programming, including groups focused around grief, nutrition, harm reduction, pregnancy and motherhood, and LGBTQIA+ identities (note: these groups may not currently be in session).

Dr. Stately says that being accessible to the community is core to Indigenous values of being “a good relative to everyone – especially people who are queer and trans. Our Two-Spirit community has significant value to our communities.” 

“We recognize that there is a need for us to do more work for the GLBT and Two Spirit community, and we want to do that work moving forward,” says Stately. This commitment is seen in the clinic’s partnership with and support of Minnesota Two Spirit Society and a brewing potential partnership with Family Tree Clinic.

“I don’t want to lead the work,” he says. “I want to partner.” Even as a person identifying as queer and Two Spirit, Dr. Stately says, “I don’t want to presume that I know the answers. How can we show up and be a better relative?”

Learn more

Southside Harm Reduction Services (Twin Cities)

Courtesy of Southside Harm Reduction Services

Also hailing from the East Phillips neighborhood, Southside Harm Reduction Services (SHRS) began as a syringe exchange within the walls of NACC and quickly blossomed into its own 501(c)(3) volunteer organization, and then into a fully-staffed operation. Though their roots are in serving the urban Indigenous population and people who inject drugs, they provide services to a wide variety of people via street outreach and their innovative hotline-based mobile delivery, which is open Monday through Thursday from 5 pm – 8 pm.

Though SHRS has always offered supplies to people going through hormone replacement therapy (HRT), it was only about one month ago that they began an intentional effort to make their services known to the trans population.

“We have actually had the supplies for a while, but only really rarely received requests for them,” shared Cobs Foucault, one of Southside’s first volunteers who is now an employee.

“A huge part of [SHRS] is addressing the massive health inequity issue of how lack of syringe access disproportionately affects marginalized people, and trans people who inject hormones aren’t excluded from that.” Though supplies are often available at the same pharmacies from which people might pick up their hormones, insurance does not cover the cost of injection supplies.

“After I had gotten requests from multiple friends, and had difficulty myself accessing syringes for hormone injections, I put together some kits and made an Instagram post that we had them,” shared Foucault. “We soon were receiving lots of requests and on my next deliveries shift I probably delivered more hormone injection kits than in the whole 3 years I have been with [SHRS].”

For Your Information

What does an HRT kit include?

  • 20 syringes and three different sizes of needles
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Bandages
  • Sharps containers

These kits can accommodate up to 20 injections which, according to Foucault, is enough for 20 weeks for most people. They differ from safer-use kits in that they do not include the works required to administer drugs (cookers, tourniquet, sterile water…). The syringe size and needle size are also different. 

Just to clarify, does one need to use intravenous drugs to call SHRS?

No! SHRS serves ALL people who reach out to their delivery hotline with their Twin Cities delivery range. 

I need supplies, but calling sounds intimidating. 

That’s okay! SHRS recommends texting them anyways. On any day between Monday and Thursday, participants are encouraged to text their number in the early afternoon (although morning and night is fine too). SHRS delivery drivers will respond shortly before 5pm or sometime during a shift. If you send message is sent too late (closer to or after 8pm), it’s possible you’ll need to wait for their delivery until their next open day. 

Foucault makes it sound astoundingly easy: “A new participant can expect a kind, discrete, non-judgmental delivery driver to come to the location they have specified […]. That’s it!” So, tell them where you are and they’ll come to you. 

They also added an important tip: “We currently have more demand on a given night than we are able to get to, so it might take texting us a couple of times to get a delivery, but at the very least, we can help direct you to another syringe exchange that you could get to sooner.”

Current hours for delivery: Monday-Thursday, 5:00-8:00pm

Call or text: (612) 615-9725

Support SHRS  |  Learn more

Taja Will: Socially Engaged Artist & Healing Practitioner (Twin Cities)

Trista Marie Photography

Taja Will is a multifaceted pillar of healing and art in Minneapolis whose powers are far reaching. They describe themself as a “queer, Latinx (Chilean) adoptee, performer, choreographer, somatic therapist and Healing Justice practitioner based in the Twin Cities (MN), on the stolen and occupied Dakota lands of Wahpekute and Anishinabewaki.”

In addition to being an award-winning choreographer, performer and dance teacher, Taja describes themself on their website as a practitioner of Healing Justice and Cultural Somatics. “I come through the lineages of Energy Medicine, Body-Mind Centering (™), developmental psychotherapy and community organizing.” By the insistence and encouragement of their ancestors, Taja has been raised up “in a practice that does nervous system triage.” Grounded in Indigenous solidarity and decolonization and committed to the “liberation of Black, Indigenous and people of color,”

Will’s practice is “tailored to individuals, communities and organizations across Turtle Island. Each relationship begins with a conversation that leads us to decide together if being in connection would be a generative fit.” They are currently taking on new clients,

For the Individual

Taja offers Holistic Therapy on an individual basis to those who seek a blend of talk therapy, body work and somatic healing. They aim to “facilitate treatment that addresses the entire human system, including belief systems, emotional distress, developmental trauma and physical pain.”

During a session, a client will “excavate the unconscious thought processes and imprinted patterns; patterns resulting from developmental trauma” through “one-on-one hybrid of touch and talk therapy, embodied listening.” With a practice rooted in their gift of movement and improvisation, and their training in somatic modalities that include Dynamic Alignment, Body-Mind Centering and Bartenieff Fundamentals, meetings with them “function as fully active processes or work as restorative, preventative sessions.”

Payments may range and can be found on their website. They do offer “economic access rates,” and encourage prospective clients to “understand their budget, access to global wealth (including but not limited to income) and equity values.”

Support Taja  |  Learn more

Solcana Fitness (Minneapolis)

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Courtesy of Solcana Fitness

Located in Minneapolis near the intersection of Cedar and Franklin, Solcana Fitness is a small gym specializing in strength and conditioning. They offer classes online and, now, some classes have resumed in-person. Newcomers can enjoy a free two-week trial if they’d like. Solcana also offers sliding scale rates, for which applications are reviewed monthly. 

The gym prioritizes applicants who are BIPOC and/or transgender, people with disabilities, and even people who are, for instance, single parents facing economic hardship. 

In addition to offering reduced rates, Solcana just added a new program to their list: a weight-lifting class for Black participants, taught by a Black trainer, welcome to adults of all fitness levels. “All bodies are welcome and we highly encourage queer and trans people to participate,” says Hanna Wydeven, creator of Solcana. This program is free.

Seven years ago, in response to her experience working in gym settings that were not queer friendly, Weydeven opened Solcana. At her previous gym, she describes herself as the only woman on staff who was a queer person living and working in a setting that didn’t feel safe for queer expression. When she noticed that she wasn’t the only one feeling that way, and that the gym she was working for was not ready to make changes in favor of their queer clients and staff, Wydeven left to start her own thing.

That was seven years ago. Today, Solcana continues to operate as a social-justice minded gym that is “feminist and queer-centered,” a class-based fitness center that aims to “put marginalized bodies first.” Wydeven acknowledged that, though they’ve maintained their roots in creating space for the queer community, the gym is “still mostly white.” This year, Solcana staff initiated a commitment to undergo equity coaching once a month. As a result, Wydeven expressed that they’re learning “how to make spaces safer for BIPOC people” rather than trying to force inclusion just to make the white people feel better. 

At the core of their work as a strength and conditioning gym, Wydeven says that Solcana aims to “help people create a foundation of strength and power through really solid technique.”

Sliding Scale Application  |  Learn more




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