From Abuse To Acceptance: A Transgender Woman’s Journey From Homelessness to Home
Last Updated: 08 Dec 2020
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Faced with a lifetime of abuse and rejection, Luz finally found acceptance… and a home.
From the time she was born, Luz’s life was never easy.
Her tumultuous past began in her childhood home— a place that should have been safe and loving was instead marked by physical and sexual abuse.
Throughout her childhood, Luz struggled to cope with the intense emotional trauma inflicted by her parents. However, her difficulties were not limited to this abuse. She was also fraught with confusion about her identity.
At 16, Luz had had enough. Desperate to escape her abusive and dysfunctional family, she fled her childhood home and made her way to Houston. Here, she began to identify as transgender and make the transition from male to female.
The Dangers Transgender Individuals Face
Transgender people come from all walks of life, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has estimated that there are more than 2 million individuals who identify as transgender across the United States.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. ‘Trans’ is often used as shorthand for transgender.”
Unfortunately, transgender individuals are often the target of violence and abuse. Here are a few statistics that show the struggle so many transgender people face.
- In 2013, 72% of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women.
- One study showed that 90% of trans people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job.
- Transgender people are also more likely to attempt suicide— 41% of respondents in one study reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.
- Trans people are four times more likely to live in poverty.
- According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 40 transgender or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2020, the majority of which were Black and Latinx transgender women.
Her Fight For Acceptance in Houston
Luz was no stranger to these frightening statistics. When she arrived in Houston, she was met with anything but a warm welcome. She learned the hard way that being a transgender person often means you are mistreated.
She was laughed at, made fun of, denied services, and harassed. Heartbroken that people could truly be so cruel, Luz turned to prostitution to make ends meet and to drugs and alcohol to cope with the emotional pain. She also began taking hormones remembering she had hoped that “once I looked like a ‘real woman,’ everything would be okay.”
Her Darkest Hour
Unable to make sense of life, Luz lost herself to a whirlwind of addiction and abuse. With her health in decline, she left Houston and moved to San Antonio. However, Luz was again met with rejection. Her dreams of having a better life quickly came crashing down as she began the familiar process of hopping from shelter to shelter. Eventually, Luz found herself living on the streets again.
I wanted to die, but it seemed like God just wouldn’t let meLuz
Feeling hopeless, Luz began a series of attempted suicides. Unsuccessful, each attempt ended with a blackout and a stay in a hospital.
“I wanted to die, but it seemed like God just wouldn’t let me,” recalls Luz.
Her Hard Work Finally Paid Off
Though she was judged for being transgender and was repeatedly told she was a man, not a woman, Luz persisted and eventually found shelter and a job. But it wasn’t enough.
“If you are HIV+ in the gay community, there are a lot of resources, but I was not,” remembers Luz.
Fortunately, someone from the San Antonio Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) came into her life and was able to help.
Qualifying for supportive housing, SARAH connected Luz to the Endeavors “Providing Sustainable Hope” program, and though she was thankful, she was also terrified. She was convinced, from all her experience, that no one could truly be supportive of her. But, she believed the opportunity was a gift from God, so she began to ask questions. The more questions she asked, the more excited she became about her future in the program.
Her New Kind of “Home.”
When Luz arrived at Endeavors’ housing facility and saw the LGBTQ flag flying high, she knew she had made the right decision.
Finally experiencing the kindness and acceptance that had been missing in her life for so long, Luz slowly began to develop tolerance for herself. Finally, her heart began to soften.
Through Endeavors, I have slowly begun to heal, and I finally feel like a person.Luz
Outliving many of the transgender individuals she had known from her past, Luz believes she is alive for a reason and that she has a purpose. She has big goals for her future and wants to give back to others by helping people the way she has been helped.
She says that “through Endeavors, I have slowly begun to heal, and I finally feel like a person. I want to help others do the same.”
What is the Providing Sustainable Hope Housing Program?
Our San Antonio Providing Sustainable Hope Program is a supportive housing program that assists chronically homeless adults with disabilities to achieve security, stability, and self-sufficiency.
Like Luz, residents of our housing programs often come to us with heartbreaking backstories of job loss, domestic violence, sex trafficking, disability, and mental health illnesses. They are vulnerable in every sense of the word, especially through the COVID-19 crisis.
When they come to the housing program, our team offers them asylum, a safe and secure place to develop job and life skills training, and help to find a job that will eventually empower them to leave the program and build a brand new life.
Their stories blow us away every time. As we watch these individuals come through our door, we are already amazed that they have survived so much and still have the grit and determination to continue. As they walk through our programs and grow under the roof of the Providing Sustainable Hope Program, their transformation is even more striking.
How can you help?
As homelessness is increasing, we also hope to expand our program in accordance. Over the last 15 years, our housing programs have served over 250 families, or close to 800 individuals. Endeavors aims to expand these programs to provide critical services to more homeless families in San Antonio.
If you would like to donate to this incredible cause, you can find ways to help by clicking here!
Endeavors is passionate about serving vulnerable people in crisis, improving their quality of life in innovative, personal ways. Click here to connect with someone from our team and learn more about the many ways Endeavors can help!
Endeavors is a San Antonio nonprofit that serves vulnerable people in crisis through our innovative, personalized approach. Established in 1977, Endeavors’ Housing Program is its longest-running initiative. Its goal is to provide permanent supportive housing to female veterans, as well as individuals and families with mental illness and/or disabilities. Our Housing Services programs are located in San Antonio, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina.