We are closing out Black History Month 2022 with episode three of PIOW’s Courageous Conversations series featuring Transgender Emergency Fund’s Chastity Bowick and Leadership Brainery’s Jonathan Allen.

It is currently estimated that one in five transgender adults have experienced homelessness during their lifetime – a rate that is much higher than that experienced by cisgender people. Transgender and nonbinary people experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of experiencing violence, mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and infectious disease, all while struggling to receive services from traditional housing programs and shelters due to stigma and discrimination from program staff and guests. 

In today’s conversation, Chastity dives into this reality by sharing her own story navigating identity, community tensions, and recognizing one’s own worth in a society that often tries to silence and stagnate LGBTQ+ and Black individuals. Learn more and watch episode 3 of Courageous Conversations below.

The above discussion explores:

  • Innovative approaches to advocacy, community building, and ensuring accountability
  • Areas for growth in addressing conflict and preconceived judgments within and between Black and LGBTQ+ communities
  • How we can all embrace discomfort to avoid stagnation encourage meaningful societal change

We are grateful to have been able to learn from Chastity’s leadership and hear more about projects currently underway to support and unite our community. While Chastity’s own story is not uncommon, it underscores the need for organizations like the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts that assist with homelessness prevention, shelter assistance, nutrition assistance, prescription co-pay assistance, transportation and escort to medical appointments, and additional services critical to supporting transgender and nonbinary members of our community. 

To provide a tangible solution to this ongoing crisis in housing and stability, the Transgender Emergency Fund of MA is creating a Transitional Housing Program, through which they plan to purchase a building that will provide temporary, full-time housing and all the resources necessary to get a handful of homeless transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people off the streets and on their feet. They hope to make a safe place where these individuals can learn all the skills necessary to become self-sufficient and successful in securing housing and employment. Learn more about this mission and consider supporting TEF here

Courageous Conversations highlights the complex societal dynamics that influence our relationships, professional  opportunities, and quality of life. Our 2022 Black History series celebrates Black LGBTQ+ leaders and the significant contributions they make towards our collective progression. If you would like to learn more or request a moderated screening available at your workplace, please contact info@piow.org


Click here to watch episode one of our Courageous Conversations series with Beth Chandler and episode 2 with Keith Marion. Be sure to follow us across social channels to be the first to know when our next installment goes live. Not on social? Join our mailing list!

Our Speakers

Chastity Bowick (she/her)

Executive Director, Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts

Speaker
About Chastity Bowick

Chastity Bowick is an award-winning activist, civil rights leader, Model, and transgender health advocate. She is currently the Executive Director of the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts, Inc., which is the leading crisis agency for transgender communities in Massachusetts. Chastity is also the CEO of Chastity`s Consulting Group.

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Chastity began her own transition early at the age of 18 when she moved to Boston to safely pursue her gender affirmation process. After surviving domestic violence and survival sex-work, she proudly obtained a master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Human Services Management from Clark University.

Prior to her work with TEF and Chastity`s Consulting Group, Chastity served as a board member of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition from 2014 to 2018. MTPC is an organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. She has also led transgender health programming at AIDS Project Worchester. Many of the support groups and transgender-focused health navigation models she founded in Worchester were the first of its kind in the city. It was because of this trailblazing work and her commitment to strengthening marginalized communities, that Chastity was the 2016 recipient of the Belinda Dunn Award at the 27th Annual Bayard Rustin Community Breakfast. She then went on to become the Program Coordinator of TransCEND (Transgender Care and Education Needs Diversity) at AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, a program dedicated to uplifting transgender communities in Greater Boston through health navigation, peer support groups and social events.

Chasity has been awarded several accolades for her dedication to community activism, including the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth 2018 Advancing Equity Award, the 2018 PrEP for Pride Community Service Award presented by Fenway Health and Lee Entertainment, the 2020 Audre Lorde Trailblazer Award presented by Fenway Health, the History Project’s 2020 Lavender Rhino Award, and the Trans Resistance MA 2020 Transgender Day of Remembrance Resiliency Award. Get Konnected also named Chasity among the 25 Most Influential LGBTQ+ People of Color in Greater Boston in 2020.

“I feel the most important thing I can do is help to empower and uplift the voices of transgender individuals in our community through support and advocacy,” Chastity often says. “We are doing some great things to move our community forward right here where we live. I hope to see the transgender community in Massachusetts spread its wings and become a force that helps shape the national Transgender Rights Movement. There’s so much more work that needs to be done.”

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chastity listened to the needs of her community and through the TEF launched a revolutionary nutritional program for low-income transgender and gender non-conforming individuals across the state. TEF partnered with the American Heart Association and About Fresh to deliver fresh produce boxes throughout the pandemic, and it is a program that still operates today.

About Transgender Emergency Fund of MA

The Transgender Emergency Fund assists with homelessness prevention, shelter assistance, nutrition assistance, prescription co-pay assistance, transportation and escort to medical appointments, etc. All services are contingent on the availability of funds. The Transgender Emergency Fund is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and is operated solely on donations.

It is currently estimated that one in five transgender adults have experienced homelessness during their lifetime, much higher than what is experienced by cisgender people. Transgender and nonbinary people experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of experiencing violence, mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and infectious disease. Furthermore, transgender and nonbinary people experiencing homelessness also struggle to receive services from traditional housing programs and shelters due to stigma and discrimination from program staff and other guests.

To begin to provide a tangible solution to this crisis, we are creating the TEF Transitional Housing Program. We seek to purchase a building where we can provide temporary, full-time housing and all the resources necessary to get a handful of homeless transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people off the streets and on their feet. We want to make a safe place where these individuals can learn all the skills necessary to become self-sufficient and successful in securing housing and employment.

We are looking for financial support for our vision. We are seeking donations for our Transitional Housing Program which will be used to purchase property, rehabilitate property, and staff our program. Consider supporting TEF here.

Learn more: www.transemergencyfund.org

Jonathan L. Allen (he/they)

Director of Development, Leadership Brainery

Moderator, PIOW Board Member
About Jonathan L. Allen

Jonathan L. Allen (he/they) is a champion for equity and empowerment. He is Co-founder and Director of Development at Leadership Brainery, a Boston-based nonprofit addressing inequitable access to master’s and doctoral degrees and workforce leadership opportunities for underrepresented talent, including people of color, individuals from a lower socioeconomic status, first generation, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Additionally, he is the inaugural Innovator-in-Residence at Boston University’s student innovation center — BUild Lab | Innovate@BU.  Jonathan also has a lifelong commitment to public service, and recently ran for Boston City Council in the Fall 2019 election. In response to the pandemic, Jonathan worked at Partners in Health as a supervisor on the Community Contact Tracing Collaborative working to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — through which he helped develop protocols and train teams for equitable data collection.  

Jonathan followed his maternal and paternal grandmothers’ footsteps and began preaching at age 11, and was ordained at age 20. Recognized as a social engineer and an advocate for love and equity, his beliefs surrounding transformative leadership, collective responsibility, political spirituality, and social and emotional intelligence have influenced individuals and groups throughout the world. 

As a first-generation college student, he became freshman and sophomore class president, junior senator, and Student Body President of Grambling State University. After receiving his BS in Business Management, Jonathan worked to expand services for a pediatric day healthcare center for chronically ill children until departing to earn his Master of Theological Studies degree from Southern Methodist University | Perkins School of Theology.  

Jonathan is a 2019 graduate of Boston University School of Law, where he was an active leader. He has participated in international arbitration and mediation competitions and served as the president of the Black Law Students Association. Jonathan has written speeches for U.S. Congresspersons while studying Faith and Politics under former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry at Wesley Theological Seminary. He was later a fellow at Free Speech for People, research assistant to the Honorable Geraldine S. Hines of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, research assistant to Rev. Cornell Brooks who is former President and CEO of the NAACP, and fellow at Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice.

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