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(WB) Two organizations have entered into a partnership that seeks to improve the health and quality of life of transgender and non-binary people in Puerto Rico.

The collaboration between the South Florida-based Arianna’s Center and the Puerto Rico-based Waves Ahead seeks to strengthen and improve programs and/or services to these communities. They include free mobile HIV testing, prevention and care, case management to help with name changes, legal referrals and links to medical care and mental health services.

Both organizations will offer workshops to help trans women and non-binary people enter the workforce.

Arianna’s Center and Waves Ahead will also train trans women to become activists and help elected officials at all levels of government on issues and policies that are vital to people who are trans or non-binary.

This partnership will allow Waves Ahead to uphold its commitment to the community and expand its capacity to serve LGBT seniors in Puerto Rico.

Arianna’s Center CEO Arianna Lint told the Washington Blade that another one of her organization’s goals is “to empower the trans community over 50 with support groups.” 

“We will have two offices: One in the San Juan metropolitan area and the other in Cabo Rojo [in southwestern Puerto Rico],” she said. “We are also developing a fundraising project for these two organizations to continue with the services. We are starting this work with very few financial resources, but with a lot of energy and the faith that we are going to move forward and that many people are going to support us.”

“Puerto Rico has become the heart of Arianna’s Center. Since 2019 we have been here supporting the trans and non-binary community with the services and advocacy that characterize our work in the United States,” added Arianna’s Center Operations Director Tony Lima in a press release. “We are proud to start 2021 by announcing Kimberly Vázquez, with vast experience and is highly recognized by her own community, is an official part of our family who will continue our trans legacy here on the island.”

Vázquez, who is in charge of coordinating Arianna’s Center work in Puerto Rico, told the Blade that joining forces with Arianna’s Center will create more opportunities for trans people who need and deserve dignified and fair treatment.

“I think it is a great alliance that, in the end, will support many more people and I know that, by receiving all their medical and support services, we will finally restore the dignity that has been taken from them for no other reason than to exclude them because they are different,” said Vázquez.

Wilfred Labiosa, executive director of Waves Ahead and SAGE Puerto Rico, said they “are extremely proud to be able to continue the work that Arianna started in 2019 in Puerto Rico.”

“Ms. Vázquez will work with our existing staff and from our centers to add more services for our transgender and non-binary community in Puerto Rico,” said Labiosa. “New year, new beginnings.”