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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Longtime activists reflect on trans community issues
by Matt Simonette
2018-10-24

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In a talk she took part in Oct. 16 at Lake View Presbyterian Church, activist Stefanie Clark said that she and co-speaker Gloria Allen are "sisters from different mothers."

Both women discussed their lives, as well as issues facing transgender individuals, at the talk. The discussion was the second half of a two-part series on the trans community, which was organized in large part by activist Don Bell.

Allen discussed her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago. She endured much hardship, including a childhood assault and bullying, but grew up surrounded by loving women with a strong sense of history; a great-aunt of hers had once been a slave.

"It was so magical to be in this house … with all these amazing women," she reflected. Allen said that she had been out since she was "knee-high to a duck."

She added, "We didn't have the 'T-word.' All I knew was the 'S-word'—sissy. And I was a sissy—a big one."

Like Allen, Clark knew from a young age that she was trans. But most of the similarities stop there. When Clark was a teenager, several of her male relatives, including her father and brother, passed away over a short amount of time.

"I went from being the youngest boy in the family to being the oldest male in the family," she said. Clark eventually married and had children, and only came out after losing her wife to a long-term illness.

Both women talked about community work they've done on behalf of the trans community.

Allen said, "I thank God that he saw fit to keep me on this earth, and that he made me stronger.

"I want people to understand that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't have to be a train," Clark added.

After Clark and Allen spoke, representatives from Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health and Lurie Children's Hospital discussed resources available to members of the transgender community.


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