For the last 12 months, Mary Wilson has been fielding phone calls and emails at such a dizzying pace, she can hardly keep track of the notifications on her iPhone most days. Wilson is the program director for a non-profit in Atlanta, Georgia, called Trans Housing Coalition, which helps transgender people experiencing homelessness connect with resources to get off the streets.
It's a need that has only increased in recent months, Wilson said.
"They are more vulnerable because they face so many different types of discrimination," she said.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 1-in-5 transgender people has experienced homelessness in their lives. Family rejection, discrimination and violence often all play roles in those numbers.
"Most time when folks who are trans come out, they're experiencing homelessness very young. At age 16,17, 18," Wilson explained.
According to Translegislation.com, a record 556 anti-trans bills have been introduced in 2023, across 49 states. And 27 national anti-trans bills have been brought before Congress.
The impacts, advocates say, have been immediate.
"What's happening now is we're seeing an influx of emails from people saying like, 'I'm fleeing Florida,' 'I'm fleeing this place,'" Wilson said. "A huge thing is that people are coming to Atlanta to be homeless to get more care," Wilson said.
There is no national group dedicated to helping homeless trans people. But dozens exist across the U.S. The Trans Housing Coalition in Atlanta helps with emergency hotel stays. They run an emergency shelter for those in the transgender community experiencing homelessness and are working to facilitate training with landlords to minimize discrimination that many advocates say exists when someone who is trans tries to secure rental housing.
"The need is absolutely nationwide," Wilson said.
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