Meet Cristan Williams from Houston, Texas
Cristan Williams is the Director of the Transgender Foundation of America located in Houston, Texas. Their library and archive, which is open to the public, features the history of transgender dating back thousands of years. Cristan requested $5,000 to expand the library with transgender biographies, medical journals, and other non-fiction books, stating that "information is key in dispelling stereotypes, and adding to the transgender archive's knowledge base is an important step in ensuring that the truth is accessible."
Cristan works 12 to 14 hour days running support groups, helping homeless transgender people access housing (because no shelter will house a transgender person), and doing HIV prevention case management. Over the past eight months, the Center recorded more than 1,500 attendees to the various support groups and events at the Center, all of whom browse the archive and library. "A larger library and archive would not only help the University students who come to the Center to learn about the transgender community," wrote Cristan in her application, "it would also help the transgender community learn more about itself."
Diary Starts Here
January 11, 2011
Cristan sent us an update on the new books and says the center is continuing to grow and expand...
"On top of our homeless program, we just added an employment program. We are, as always, incredibly busy! Here are a couple of pictures of the library your support created for the community:
It's rare that a day goes by in which the library is unused. Students from local universities use the library all the time because this small collection of books (relative to a university library) represents the largest collection of transgender material accessible to the public. There's a book called "The Gender Book" that was written due to your support. The authors of the book came to the library each day for months doing research. Not only do people use the library for serious research, some come to the library to simply sit with a cup of (admittedly cheap lol) coffee and a good book.
Your support has helped the the Transgender Center become a truly remarkable space for the community. In a world that is incredibly hostile towards the transgender population, you've helped create a space that has become the calm in the middle of a storm of discrimination, oppression and violence. Just last Monday, a transgender woman came to me to get an HIV test after being raped and cowed into silence for months. Unfortunately, her test was positive. I sat with her in the library and held her as she wept freely. For many, the library has become the beating heart of the TG Center. Not only is it a unique source for information that simply does not exist anywhere else, it has become a safe place for the transgender population.
I can't thank you enough for your support Jenny!"
May 27, 2010
We just received a heartwarming letter from a woman who tells us how Cristan saved her life. Transgenders face many challenges and having someone like Cristan to turn to can literally save a life, as you will see when you read this thank you letter to Cristan from Breann.
My story was fairly typical for girls like me...
about two years ago I told my Mom and Dad about the Gender issues i was havening, they dint react positively. there negativity and disapproval of me increased eventually i was at the end of my rope (i was ready to kill my self).
I remember sitting there by the phone, not knowing who to dial, not knowing where to turn. i searched the Internet for "Transgender Houston" And i got the number for Transgender foundation and called the number Christian answered the phone. we talked for a bit, and i found my self driving to the center. i was given a tour and i was educated.I was shown that there are people like me living productive lives, she told me this was going to be the hardest road i would ever walk down and she was right, it has been hard. That day was a real turning point in my life.
Because of you I'm not dead by my own hand,
I'm not living on the street,
Thanks to you I'm sober,
I'm going back to school in the fall,
and thanks to you I'm on my road to getting the thing i have always wanted I'm i girl.
This is one girl who, cant thank you enough, I'm full of life, and getting back on my feet.
I just wanted to tell you thank you for being my hero.
February 22, 2010
Cristan just placed her first order for new books. There are 50 books coming with more to be ordered later.
December 7, 2009
It turns out that Cristan was a fan of the Jenny Jones Show so when I called her, she was very excited about the grant and also about hearing from me personally. Cristan said she used to watch my show for inspiration and to know she was not the only one out there who felt different. I told her about the first time a transgender was in the audience and asked a question on the air, joking that we all survived! Cristan is putting together her list of books to start shopping and with a little luck, these books may come in time for Christmas. What a great gift they will be for the center, and what a great gift Cristan is to the transgender community.
12/07/09: Jenny wrote... "Cristan, you are a blessing to those in need. I’m so happy to be able to help."
12/07/09: Damon wrote... "Congratulations, Cristan! Thanks for everything you do for transgender people and their families."
01/02/10: Terri O. wrote... "Hi Cristan, kudos to you for providing an information center regarding this highly misunderstood issue. Ignorance is not bliss! Continued success to you."