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Transgender and homeless Chicagoans get IDs at Center
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2011-04-27

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Dozens of transgender and homeless Chicagoans obtained state IDs and other documentation at the Center on Halsted April 22. The secretary of state set up shop at the Center and issued free state IDs to homeless people and also helped transgender people update their IDs to reflect new names and gender presentations.

The Center's transgender liaison, June LaTrobe, and Ellen Meyers from the secretary of state's office coordinated the effort, LaTrobe said.

According to LaTrobe, 56 people signed in for services. Most of them received new or updated IDs.

"I think the effort that was put into certifying the homeless is an excellent example of the Center's sincerity in supporting the homeless in and beyond the rainbow community," LaTrobe said.

The Center has faced a rumbling of accusations since it opened in 2007 that the organization prioritized gay men over other marginalized groups. However, LaTrobe said that many who walked through the door did not identify as LBGTQ at all—simply as homeless. LaTrobe said she felt it was important that LGBTQ community ally with homeless individuals because all share an understanding of what it means to be marginalized.

Not all who attended walked away with their desired documents. In order for homeless individuals to receive free State ID Cards, a social service agency must first certify that they are homeless. LaTrobe said that many showed up without that certification and that some Center employees halted their work days in an effort to certify people as homeless, so they could get IDs.

"It was very gratifying to me to see that everybody pitched in," LaTrobe said.

LaTrobe expects the service will be offered quarterly at the Center. However, in the future, the Center will hold symposiums prior on what documents are needed to obtain free IDs. That way, she said, all who come to the Center can leave with IDs.

Services offered on April 22 are the same offered by the secretary of state at offices around Illinois. Homeless individuals and transgender people can use those offices at any time to update IDs or get free IDs, if they qualify. However, LaTrobe said "for people in [transgender and homeless] communities, that's not always the most comfortable thing to do."

For more information on how to get ID cards or updating pre-existing identification at Center on Halsted, contact June LaTrobe at JLaTrobe@centeronhalsted.org .


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