a bird and a bottle

A Transgender Shelter in NYC? Great! The Times’ Article about it….Eh.
May 2, 2007, 9:04 am
Filed under: media, news, NYC, sexuality

Kudos to the NY Times for running an article today about Carmen’s Place, a shelter for transgender youth in the city. The shelter, a second-floor apartment in an Astoria, Queens building, houses young men and women, many of whom are teenagers and most of whom work as prostitutes on a nearby “tranny stroll.” It’s run by a man named Father Braxton, who leads the residents in prayer each morning and locks the door at 2AM each night. Disappointingly – but not surprisingly – this small apartment may be the only shelter for transgender youth in the entire city.

At first, I was impressed by the article and by the reporter’s sensitivity — using the proper pronouns (so often male to female transgender people are wrongly called “he”). But that positive impression was short-lived. Because this article, perhaps typically, couldn’t resist painting its subjects as sad, abused, superficial, desperate young women. The article’s entire second page is a litany of short biographical sketches of the women: growing up in broken homes, subject to sexual abuse, desiring love and affection. Maybe I’m wrong, but the article seemed to me to say: these women don’t have to be this way; it’s their upbringings that have created their gender confusion.

Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe I’m being uncharitable. But I still found it objectionable.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

hey bean, i think you’re right on. it’s a crappy article and the father who runs it needs some serious harm reduction training. preaching about the “sins of the flesh” and telling transwomen “i hope you get arrested” is not the least bit helpful. it’s definitely f-ed up that we don’t have trans-inclusive shelters in nyc, but this is by no means the answer.

Comment by maxwell

Maxwell – yes, I totally agree about the man who runs it. That was the other thing about this article that I wanted to talk about (why not point out alternatives, like harm reduction?), but time was not on my side this morning and i wanted to get this post up.

Comment by bean

It’s even worse than that. One of the youths said “I don’t believe in God, because if there is one, why didn’t he make me a girl?” and another talked about traumatic experiences with religion. I shudder to think how Father Braxton is treating the person who explicitly said she was an atheist…

But that’s not so much a problem with the article as with the society that compelled those people to seek shelter at such a place.

Comment by Alon Levy

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