Progress is being made, but much work remains. In a year when violence against the trans community has nearly doubled, that statement is about as optimistic as trans activists can get. 

Hope and frustration were side by side as Arianna’s Center celebrated its sixth anniversary at Sunshine Cathedral on Nov. 17. Arianna’s Center works to engage, empower, and uplift the trans community of South Florida. About 100 people sipped on drinks and munched on hot hors d'oeuvres and talked about what’s next for the center and the trans rights movement.

A town hall-style panel took the stage to discuss treatments, political possibilities, struggles, and successes. Hosted by Al Ferguson, it included the center’s founder, Arianna Lint, former CEO at Arianna’s Center Tony Lima, trans activist Rajee Narinesingh, and Wilton Manors City Commissioner Chris Caputo. Lint talked about living life as a trans woman living with HIV, growing up in Peru and coming to America, and her goal of improving the lives of the trans community.

Narinesingh has a big heart and gives warm hugs, and that’s a testament to her love of life and belief in others. Despite surviving botched surgeries and more, she keeps her positive attitude. After the panel, she talked with SFGN, and believes the situation is improving.

“I remember the time when I used to leave my home and it felt like I was in a war zone. At least here in America and in South Florida specifically I've noticed in recent years the people aren't as combative and abrasive towards trans people. When I leave my home now I feel like I don't have to wear as much armor.”

Small victories, like feeling safe when you leave your home, lay the foundation for bigger victories.

“Don't get me wrong, I know we still have a long way to go and I still proceed with caution when I'm out and about but I just don't feel as threatened as I did!”

The most poignant moment of the night was when Lint’s mother took the stage. The love and admiration she had toward her daughter were felt with every word she spoke.

Sunshine Cathedral has had a connection with nearly every South Florida LGBT group for nearly 50 years. Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin the church has always been, and always will be, a welcoming, safe space.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be together as a community, and to say we’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go.”

He says the first step is for the L, G, B, and the Q to better support the T.

“Education in the gay community. We are really trying to pull that rainbow flag together and we’ve got work to do.”