As the Gender Health Center (GHC) evolves and works to uncover implicit racism, the staff have also engaged in introspective critical thought. Among other gifts, GHC uses the information imparted from our Black Trans staff members as key factors in informing our policies, procedures, our mission, organizational vision, and values. As a whole, GHC staff share a common desire to center the most intersectionally marginalized among us.
In order to put this desire to action, we follow the leadership of Black voices, Black Trans experiences, and the insight of Black Trans youth. It is clear that our beliefs involve the reality that intersectionality changes, it transforms, it transitions. So, we must adapt alongside intersectionality.
Gender Health Center has been honoring Black community members for their contributions to
Black and Trans Wellness with the Sacramento Black Wellness Awards. Above are awards presented to GHC staff: Ayotunde Khyree Ikuku (They/Them/Theirs), Advocacy Program Co-director ; Cloud Johnson (They/Them/Theirs), Respite Data Assistant ; Jasmine Bright (She/Her/Hers), Director of Healthcare Services.
“I have plans to find better ways that I can do outreach, and support Trans folks here at GHC.” Cloud affirmed in an interview. They have expressed a long-standing desire to platform unhoused Black Trans communities. Jasmine mentioned that she has a desire to establish a pharmacy at GHC to make hormones more accessible. Ayotunde stated, “I envision GHC reaching a place of true stability and immense resources and networking that further influences both systemic and local changes and awareness of what we endure, and what we deserve. [This is] a place that can be reborn and be a safeguard & raw representation for [the] community.”
“I have plans to find better ways that I can do outreach, and support Trans folks here at GHC.” Cloud affirmed in an interview. They have expressed a long-standing desire to platform unhoused Black Trans communities.
Despite being one of our newest additions, Cloud’s contributions to the respite program, and GHC as a whole, is evident in the ways they care and tend to fellow staff, community members, and their projects. Cloud is a natural at providing care for community members that approach GHC. Their supportive, generous, and protective personality has extended into the culture of respite. We are incredibly lucky to have Cloud’s dependability, lived experience, and altruism at the forefront of our respite program.
“I feel like with more Black staff it makes it feel like a safe space for our community,”
Jasmine revealed, “It is a huge change from what it was before which represents growth. Our growth is truly contingent on the ways we listen and hear Black people, needs, and lived experience in our communities." As Jasmine touched on representation, Cloud shared, “In the time that I've been here I have seen GHC promote and showcase a bunch of local Black and Trans artists and creators and sending funds and resources to folks.” The centering of Black and Trans people has created a profound opportunity for GHC to start listening to those on the margins of the margins in our community.
Ayotunde is a young, 20-something, hallmark activist in our community. Their insight and belief in GHC has been a vital source of transformation, sustenance, and vision. Among many revolutionary thinkers, the idea of community-led organizations is not new. However, Sacramento, and even GHC, has grappled with serious systemic issues that have yet to be addressed.
These issues lift the question: who better to lead the movement than young, Black, Trans people? “I do feel empowered by GHC and I believe my colleagues all ultimately wish to see me succeed, as well as other Black Trans people in the larger scope,” Ayotunde shared. When they were asked what brought them to GHC, they answered, “A recommendation from [former staff] said I would be a perfect fit regardless of qualifications and sent me the application.” A perfect fit indeed. They replied, “I have been affirmed internally and externally, consistently, that I am seen, heard and respected at GHC. It means a lot to me, because I’ve fought hard to get where I am as a whole being today.”
“I have been affirmed internally and externally, consistently, that I am seen, heard and respected at GHC. It means a lot to me, because I’ve fought hard to get where I am as a whole being today.”
Ayotunde, one of our youngest staff members, was recently promoted to Co-Director of Advocacy. They discussed the impact of these shifts in leadership, “We have more Black staff in positions of power and programmatic autonomy that never existed before, which influences the way the org itself navigates around the most marginalized. We are continually striving to serve the Black community better and it is an ongoing commitment.”
There is no shortage of affirmations testifying to Ayotunde’s impact on GHC and the advocacy program. They share diversity of expertise, exuding abundance and royalty alongside compassion and self-awareness. With a skill set spanning direct service provision to leading the masses, Ayotunde consistently delivers critical feedback, tactful strategy, and wisdom to the mission and vision of GHC. As one of the youngest members on our leadership team, Ayotunde has already demonstrated a commitment to the growth and evolution of this organization.
Jasmine, who draws ooh’s and ahh’s every time she walks into a room, is our Director of Healthcare. She recalls that she first heard of GHC when she, “randomly came in for an appointment with [her] little sister for hormones.” The rest is history. Jasmine’s favorite aspect of working at GHC is, “that this is a trans led organization.” She is affectionately referred to as Jassie by our colleagues, and had this to say when interviewed about feeling seen and heard at GHC, “Yes I do! Not only do I feel seen and heard, I feel like I now have a voice. Which is something I used to keep to myself.” She went on to say, “I do honestly feel like my colleagues encourage me to be the best version of myself that I can be. It feels great to use something other than my looks to get the job done, which I have leaned on for a large portion of my life. Even though I have certain medical credentials, I haven't really used them as much as I should have.”
Since her ascension into Directorship, Jasmine has breathed new life into GHC as one of our key leaders in shaping and steering organizational change. She has stayed true to herself and loyal through thick and thin in her four years with us. Her passion and commitment to the work is apparent in the way Jasmine manages the hormone clinic, healthcare services, and her new leadership role.
“Yes I do! Not only do I feel seen and heard, I feel like I now have a voice. Which is something I used to keep to myself.” She went on to say, “I do honestly feel like my colleagues encourage me to be the best version of myself that I can be. It feels great to use something other than my looks to get the job done, which I have leaned on for a large portion of my life. Even though I have certain medical credentials, I haven't really used them as much as I should have.”
Throughout the month of February, we are also affirming Black Transness with our Black Trans Power Fund, a mutual aid fundraiser providing relief to Black and Trans folks in our community. Our staff and board members have pledged to match up to $2,100 in donations. If you are not Black and trans, we challenge you to give back to our community who have tirelessly worked to provide us with equity, justice, and human rights.
Donate today: https://www.mightycause.com/story/Blacktranspowerfund
Edited by Ryan Kim Tiêu