they2ze SoCal Tour

Last week the YTH Team had the opportunity to present our they2ze mobile app at the Southern California Sexual Health Summit in Downtown Los Angeles. Along the way, Programs Director Cara Silva and I seized the opportunity to visit and connect with some truly amazing folks. The following is quick look back on our SoCal adventure.

Day 1

Santa Barbara —> Ventura —> Los Angeles

Planes. Trains. And Lyft Rides. The first leg of our they2e SoCal trip consisted of quick stops along the coastal US 101.

Cara met with folks in the Public Health Department of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN), Diversity Collective, Rainbow Umbrella, and Coalition for Family Harmony (CFH). Everyone helped us reach out to trans-services around Santa Barbara and Ventura. So many inspiring people doing inspired work.

While Cara was in Santa Barbara, I had the opportunity to meet up with some folks at the LA LBGT Center and LA County Department of Public Health in Los Angeles. The LA LGBT Center is impressive! To be honest, it’s more of a campus than a center. I felt like I needed a map to help navigate! Multiple theaters, cozy up to conference rooms, that sprawl into libraries and resource rooms. Social hang outs cover their walls with art. Activity centers buzz, and youth spaces shelter those in need.

Outside, the future home of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus is under construction. “An affordable housing unit for LGBT seniors and youth alike,” beams Gina Bigham, the Program Manager and Founder of the LA LGBT Center’s Trans* Lounge. This new campus will include 100 units of housing for LGBT seniors, 100 shelter beds for homeless youth, and 35 permanent beds for LGBT youth and young adults. The site takes up a whole city block and will be open for business in 2019. It truly was a site to see and made me feel good about the social and political landscape of LA. I wish there were more of these in my beloved Bay Area.

In contrast, The LA County Department of Public Health building is like many metropolitan health departments: a faceless building tucked away in some non-descript corner of some sterile street amongst generic brethren of buildings. Their ominous features that are barely navigable openly intimidate trans youth. For a young person already feeling lost or alone in this world, we must always remember those we serve.

Day 2

Los Angeles

There were a lot of familiar faces in the audience at the Southern California Sexual Health Summit. Our presentation was very well received. Folks from all over the state had so many questions about they2ze:

“How does it get vetted? What happens when you get a bad review? Is there an emergency button for PEP? How do you encourage folks to download the app? Is it just for trans youth? Have you gotten any negative feedback from providers? Is there a way to redeem a bad review? What are you doing to protect against cyber bullying? How do you hold users and providers accountable? Do you have a re-vetting process for a provider who may have gotten multiple bad reviews?”

These questions aren’t necessarily new to us. Since expanding they2ze statewide, the answers have been more challenging to come by. And as it continues to grow we’ll learn as much as we can and make changes along the way.

Day 3

Riverside

The last day of our trip consisted of a small visit to both the Riverside Public County Health Department and to TruEvolution, offers a tremendous amount of care and have been instrumental in trans health research.

“Have any of you had a chance to hit up the college campuses?” We were posed this question many times during our trip. Finally, I had asked Community Organizer, Jorge Delos Santos, of TruEvolution why it was the prevalent question. Jorge explained, that for some counties, Riverside included, resources can be scarce and college campuses are the only place to go. That definitely put a lot of things in perspective for me. California is a huge state and not every county is going to be the same and offer the same type of services.

For more information about they2ze or help finding it in the app store of your choice, visit the they2ze project page.