Meet the woman who created a safe haven for Black and Trans women in NYC

Ceyenne Doroshow knows first-hand the struggle of being a trans woman of color living on the streets.

Feeling unable to express her true self in her home neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York, she set out on her own as soon as she reached adulthood. Unfortunately, with no shelter services specific to transgendered people’s needs in the early 90s, her options were limited to men’s shelters (where abuse was common and left unpunished).

From the ages of 18 to 25 years old, Doroshow experienced what it was like to not have a safe space to call home. She became accustomed to having to adapt for her survival but knew that she wanted to take matters into her own hands and eventually develop safe housing options for her and the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2015, she founded the grassroots organization Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society, or GLITS, and started her journey toward becoming one of the most prominent and recognized activists for the Black trans community nationwide.

Doroshow’s current project is the repurposing of a 12-unit apartment building in Woodhaven, Queens that she purchased in the fall of 2020. She plans to offer affordable housing to low-income Black and Brown trans and queer people. Trans and queer individuals are already disproportionately less likely than non-LGBTQ+ individuals to own a home, and poverty is especially prevalent among the Black and Brown trans community.

The Woodhaven building has already experienced a bit of a facelift with the addition of glitter walls, luxury-style chandeliers, a purple front door, and a bright pink fire escape. Most units are still occupied, but as current residents move out, GLITS will make the apartments available to Black and Brown members of the trans community.

Individuals hoping to reside in the Woodhaven building will have to fill out an application and answer typical questions about education and employment. There are also essay questions about leadership, inspiration, and safety in the community.

The GLITS team hopes to buy a second building in Park Slopes, Doroshow’s home neighborhood, that they plan to transform into a community clinic.

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