Transgender. Often overlooked in the LGBTQ community and even more misunderstood.
"Society tells us men have penises and women have vaginas, but there is a whole array of intersex in between,” said Bryan Wilson, director of training and development at Sun Serve, a model nonprofit social services agency serving the LGBT communities in South Florida.
Typically, transgender people are fighting against the odds. Wilson cited statistics showing transgender people to be at high risk of HIV infection, employment discrimination, substance abuse, depression and suicide.
“And we have one of the largest transgender communities in the country,” said Wilson, explaining how Broward County’s Transgender protection rights have made the greater Fort Lauderdale area a “haven for Transgender individuals.”
Hoping to lead this group to better times, is Arianna Lint, Sun Serve’s new director of GenderServe, transgender case management services. Lint, 41, who previously worked as a health educator and investigator with the Florida Department of Health, said she is delighted to join the Sun Serve staff.
“I love to help my community,” Lint said. “We have to educate people on gender identity. As transgender people we are proud to be under the LGBTQ umbrella… but we don’t want to be a queen, we just want to be a real person. A real person with a job.”
Lint was born in Peru and immigrated to the United States in 2000 where she affirmed her identity as a female and was granted asylum by the U.S. government. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in social work and is eager to get to work for Broward County’s transgender community.
And Sun Serve is glad to have her.
The organization is hosting a screening of the transgender documentary, “Just Gender,” produced by local residents George Zubar and Mona Pittenger. The screening is scheduled for Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m. at the historic Gateway Theater in Fort Lauderdale and Lint will take part in a discussion immediately following the film.
“I know what it’s like to not feel right inside,” she said. “It’s difficult. I felt that way growing up.”
Lint said her family life was conservative with her father serving on the police force and mother a devout Catholic. She left Peru for the freedom of the United States and a “better quality of life.”
“This is the country where dreams come true,” she said.
For more information about GenderServe, call 954-764-5150 or visit www.sunserve.org