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COVIctory - Ciora Thomas (by Emmai Alaqu
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The COVIctory of Ciora Thomas and her trans-advocacy organization SisTers PGH comes with a door, a roof, and place to call home for the trans community members who really needed it. With a focus on Black trans women or nonbinary individuals especially, SisTers PGH works to build and support a community that struggles with oppression, discrimination, and an acute need for services and spaces--especially housing--that are safe and trans-competent.

"Everyday during the pandemic, trans people were getting kicked out of their homes," says Ciora Thomas. Secure housing was an issue before the outbreak of COVID-19. A statistic from the National Center for Transgender Equity finds that 1 in 5 transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Family rejection, discrimination and violence mean that transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth face more challenges when it comes to housing. Social services often fail to understand and answer their needs. The pandemic exacerbated all of these issues. When the place someone called home wasn't safe or stable, it was also much harder to find somewhere else to live when the mandate was to social distance.


In 2020, SisTers PGH was able to open, and immediately fill,  a new housing option for trans people needing temporary, transitional housing. Owned by SisTers PGH, the new space is a haven for individuals needing a safe place to stay during COVID-19. It will endure as a resource for those who need it, and with a demonstrated need it's also poised to expand.


"We are buying more homes or possibly apartment buildings so trans people have safe and competent living spaces," says Thomas. "We can't wait for people to stop being transphobic anymore, so we need to provide it. We have to be our own revolution."

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