Community Organizing Responses to COVID-19
Queens Spotlight was launched in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time of incredible hardship and severe shifts in how society functions, we are continually inspired by the resourcefulness, responsiveness and resilience of Queens community members. In this series we highlight community organizing work and hope to provide insight into the vitality of this work within our borough during the pandemic.
June 25, 2020
Ceyenne Doroshow, Founder and Director, Gays & Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S. Inc.)
“Over the course of the last few months, Ceyenne Doroshow and her organization, G.L.I.T.S. Inc., have been providing temporary housing to Black trans people recently released from Rikers Island. G.L.I.T.S. has been presented with an opportunity to both sign two leases to provide housing for the upcoming year, and buy two buildings to create a permanent place to house and support Black trans people in New York City. These leases will provide much needed security and housing stability in the forthcoming year for several Black trans members of our community, all of whom were recently released from Rikers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism that still plagues our communities. The buildings will create a space that will allow Ceyenne to provide housing and support to community members for years to come.”
G.L.I.T.S. Inc. has raised over 1 million dollars through their current campaign.
If you would like to support the organization, please consider donating to their campaign by June 30th using one of the following links: bit.ly/GLITSlease or https://givebutter.com/glitsbuilding.
Donations can also be made through their website.
Artists for Ceyenne, an art auction fundraiser that supports G.L.I.T.S., is also underway on their Instagram page.
Ceyenne, you are the Founder and Executive Director of Gays & Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S. Inc.), a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQIA community internationally. As a Black trans woman you are intimately aware of interpersonal and systemic racism, sexism, transphobia, and the resulting experiences with violence, homelessness, criminalized sex work, incarceration, unemployment, and lack of health care that trans people face in society, all of which has been further exasperated by the disproportionate impacts within the Covid-19 pandemic. These injustices are daily lived realities for the community you serve, along with the unrelenting trauma of seeing Black and Brown trans people killed. How and where do you begin to find ways to support your community? How do you anchor your work?
As a service provider, everything that was aforementioned reflects the way society has dealt with us. We have been through all of that because it has been allowed–because the government has allowed it and society has allowed it. This harm is just the way things simply have been. As a people, we have fought and dug ourselves out of the trenches unsupported by society and government.
As a founder, this is my need to respond and to respond with compassion, humanity, and a general respect for myself and other people.
Living in an area where it’s hard for a Black woman to feel safe because Brown people discriminate against me and feel superior. Being Caribbean, being Black and being proud has kept me afloat. In these areas of unsafety and prejudice, in my work, I see people. But in society, we all suffer harm because others see dividers. This work is sustainability. These [housing, healthcare, support] are things we all should have.
G.L.I.T.S. Inc. is Gays and Lesbians Living In A Transgender Society. Why? because trans women have always been led within the umbrella of the LGBTQIA+ community. Even with gender non-conformity and non-binary identities going on in the world, somehow transgender women still pay for that. Not anymore. We are leading. We are leading this fight. We are leading this cause. We are the people that are doing the work.
This campaign and project is articulated to specifically help trans people recently released from Rikers Island. Could you share a little bit about how the prison industrial complex and the criminal justice system impacts trans people?
This COVID-19 response was a campaign. G.L.I.T.S. Inc.’s work is not a campaign. It’s life. It’s giving life. This COVID-19 response was a direct response of sustainability, getting the community out of jail and making sure they can sustain themselves. This work is about getting people services and resources to live better lives. So they don’t go back to jail, so re-entry looks like thriving and not just surviving.
Re-entry without a support team is isolating and disrespectful when you have been caged like a dog. Coming home and being treated like a dog could hurt even more. This is more about getting people where they need to be, not abandoning them in the process of trying to get their stuff together.
G.L.I.T.S. Inc. is doing what no other agency has ever done before. We’re doing it with care and compassion. All agencies should be doing this.
You’ve mentioned that this would be the first community-led temporary housing project explicitly for trans people in New York City. Could you share a little more about the importance of community-led solutions and how that work can be supported more broadly?
Correction: This is for the community. It is for trans people 100% but we are not exclusive to trans people within the community. Trans women of color tend to be the people that can’t go to school so they have to survive off of sex work, because there are not enough nonprofits in New York City connected to LGBT causes that hire Black trans women and Black trans men. I do not work for anybody. I work for myself. I want other trans community members to work for themselves, to sustain for themselves, to own property and to have equity in life and keep building on that equity. And go to school, that’s the biggest change I want to see.