South Florida LBT Women in Action for Their Communities

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Photos by Carina Mask.

Cindy Brown heads up Lambda Living for the Jewish Community Centers of South Florida. Credit: Carina MaskCindy Brown

Elder Care Advocate

Cindy Brown has served on the boards of SAVE, The Dade Human Rights Foundation, the Gay & Lesbian Foundation of South Florida, and the Advisory Committee for the Women’s Community Fund (now known as the Aqua Foundation for Women.)

And as of April, the Jewish Community Centers of Miami named Cindy President of their Lambda Living program for LGBT seniors in Miami Dade.

 “There are challenges (in the LGBT Community which) include lack of support and caregiving; greater likelihood of living alone; higher rates of poverty; and cultural and social isolation,” Brown said.

The LGBT community has lower rates of health insurance coverage, higher risks of cancers due to delayed testing, higher risk for depression and suicide.  Cindy spearheads programs for case management services, counseling, and providing SAGE certified training for cultural sensitivity to different organizations who care for LGBT elders. 

“Cindy is uniquely qualified and well respected in both the LGBT community and human service agencies to bridge the gap between traditional services and the cultural needs and social isolation within the LGBT senior community, said Fred Stock, President and CEO of Jewish Community Services.

There are 39 million people in the United States that are 65 years or older; approximately 1.5 million of these people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

With a growing community in need of these programs, Cindy recognizes the fact that there is an urgent need for LGBT seniors to make friendships, become each other’s support structure and most importantly, communicate. 

  

Arianna Lint is the head of Arianna's Center/TransLatin@ Florida. Credit: Carina Mask

Arianna Lint

The “T” in LGBT is Tenacious and Powerful

Arianna is a trailblazing activist, educator, and advocate who works tirelessly to bring visibility to the transgender community, not only in South Florida but on a national level.   

She arrived in the United States approximately 20 years ago, and her journey has not been an easy one.  Arianna has had a tumultuous few years. She is a refugee from Peru, she is transgender, and she is also HIV positive. She chose to change her life experiences into a positive to bring about action and change. 

In 2006, Arianna worked with the Florida Department of Health to bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic that is disproportionately affecting the transgender community. 

Arianna is working with Human Rights Watch in order to create an extensive bilingual questionnaire that would cover the entire spectrum of the transgender experience such as, immigration status, finding gainful employment, current housing situation, accessibility to health care, if they have been previously incarcerated, HIV status, and even general safety. 

Arianna voices, “There is not enough Transgender in leadership, mostly as support but not leadership.”

An overarching theme in her career is mentoring and outreach. She has spent innumerable hours educating and advocating for the voiceless in her community.  She wants to arm the younger generation with the tools to combat prejudice and transphobia by building framework and partnering up with larger organizations that are willing to train young trans people.  Her ultimate goal is to get them involved in local government, incite them to join local planning councils, form partnerships, and be resolute because this is the time when it truly matters.

  

Jules McCartyJules McCarty is part of the team at Arianna's Center. Credit: Carina Mask

For the sake of second chances 

What the transgender community in South Florida needs is more leadership, trans people need to be in roles where they feel empowered to make change and to be visible to their peers. 

 Jules McCarty speaks very candidly about her life, “I was a client at Inspire Recovery, and I was having problems finding employment in Palm Beach County, so I went to Trans Con this year at Barry University and ran up to meet Arianna (Lint).”

Jules is now part of the team at Arianna’s Center/TransLatina Florida.

“I was in a halfway house for one year, so 12 months, but I couldn’t get ahead there. I would get hired and immediately fired, they had good intentions, but at the end of the day they are a business.” Jules added, “They were allowing me to stay there and not be up to date on rent however I was constantly pitching their business and recruiting.”

Finding gainful employment still seems like a myth for the transgender community.  Studies show that anywhere from 15 to 43 percent of LGBT people face discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Transgender workers report an astonishing 90 percent of some form of harassment or mistreatment at the workplace.

“My goal is to stay in South Florida, and I want to enroll in school and eventually get my master’s in Social Work. Compared to my experiences in Chicago and Philadelphia, there’s a lot of work to be done down here, I want to stay to be a part of that change.  There are more programs, funding, and the community closer knit.”  

It’s a crucial time in our history; the transgender community needs leaders.  There are not enough trans women or trans men in management positions and leadership in South Florida.

“I want to open my own LGBT halfway house, that’s my main focus, specifically people fighting addiction.” 


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