WWAV Outreach Workers Prepare for Launch of Transgender Women Circles

wendi-copyWendi Cooper, Women With a Vision’s Community Navigator, has been preparing for the launch of WWAV’s “Girls With a Pearl” series, doing outreach in the French Quarter and across the city to inform transgender women about the new program.

Girls With a Pearl is a social mixer and safe space for transgender women, combining conversation, dinner, and story sharing to talk about being healthy in relationships.

Cooper, who is coordinating the program and who also gave the program its name, first came to Women With a Vision as a volunteer in 2007 and has been a long-time advocate for the transgender community.

As a transgender woman from New Orleans with deep connections in the community here, Cooper has faced many of the obstacles she sees women in her community still facing today – discrimination, criminalization, and marginalization. As a result she is excited about finding ways to give voice to the issues and needs of her community, standing with other transgender women to heal and reclaim their power.

“It was so nice to see my pearls last night,” Cooper said earlier this week after a weekend of outreach. “They know this is a new beginning for transgender women being heard.”

But Cooper still intimately understands the issues of profiling and criminalization of transgender women. Even during her outreach work for Women With a Vision this week, Cooper was stopped by NOPD while she was in the French Quarter. She had to show her ID and her Women With a Vision outreach information to prove that she should be allowed to walk freely in her own city. Getting stopped by police is an almost routine experience for many Black transgender women in the city, Cooper noted. Police harassment is so common, it is known in the community as walking while trans*.

Girls With a Pearl will offer a space for transgender women to share these kinds of stories, and stories of state violence and intimate partner violence, and it will be a place to talk about the myriad ways they have learned to navigate the world and to work together to promote safety and wellness.

This year Women With A Vision launched our Emerge project, a focus on holistic healing for women, and women building healthy relationships and strong communities together. Girls With a Pearl will be the project’s safe space dedicated to transgender women sharing stories and healing together.

For more info, click here.

Meet some of the women Wendi spoke to about the program!

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