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D’HANA PERRY

Transgender Health Care Coordinator, Callen-Lorde

When I moved to New York City from Boston, I was debating making a career change. I had been working in queer health in Boston, and I was also DJing, creating media art and building nightlife spaces for queer and trans people to gather and commune. I’ve always had a multidisciplinary approach to building my career and I’m still trying to find smart ways to make sure that everything feeds each other. When I saw the opening for the Transgender Case Manager position here, I applied for it and was hired. In many ways, it was a lifesaving moment to get that call.

The body I happen to have is inherently devalued and is constantly under surveillance, so I’ve always felt the need to be hypervigilant of my surroundings, and how people see me. It’s exhausting. In order to feel good in my body, I’ve had to make sacrifices and have taken risks to express myself regardless of what people may think; this is part of what motivates me to serve others. As the Trans Health Care Coordinator, I am involved in nearly every aspect of trans health access: patient care and education, insurance navigation, technical assistance and cultural competency trainings, policy and advocacy, staff training and guidance, program and work flow creation; you name it! The work we do at Callen-Lorde is high stress and high stakes, but the people who work here are angels. Folks are basically willing to drop everything to make sure our patients have what they need – you won’t find that everywhere – and seeing that has been incredibly important in my own journey.

I’ve spent my entire life – including my teens – working towards ending the many injustices in the world, and my role here is a continuation of this work. Getting to know the medical, legal and community advocates across the city through Callen-Lorde has allowed me to see the bigger picture and confirms my belief that we can’t continue to work in silos.

Our systems have to change in order to accommodate the diverse needs of trans people.