Service center

Transgender / LGBTQ service center opens in Hampton on December 4

HAMPTON, Virginia – Who do you turn to if you are transgender and need help? A woman from Hampton prepares to provide the resources the LGBTQ and transgender community may need.

Although the doors open on December 4th, customers are already registering.

Nyonna Byers, Founder / CEO of Empowering Transgender Services, said: “The transgender community, we are underserved throughout the board.

Empower transgender services has been helping people in need since 2019, but Byers, a transgender woman, said opening the center was personal to her.

“My sister and I went out in 1994. We had no services or resources to help us; we had to do things outside of sex work. We didn’t have a role model to tell us, “Hey, you shouldn’t ‘don’t do that’ or ‘hey you shouldn’t be going in that direction,’” said Byers.

After the murder of Byers’ sister in 2001, she said she wanted to create a shelter for the transgender community to provide services to them.

Dr Matthew Rosario, Deputy Director of Empowering Transgender Services, said: “One of the things we did was partner with the LGBT life center in Norfolk. There are a lot of things that will help us, such as housing assistance. Plus, we partner with them to help with hormone therapy. “

ETS executives said they will also partner with the Virginia Department of Health to provide free HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing to the entire community.

“A lot of these people don’t have family support. They don’t have that community support from where they are, and we absolutely want this center to be a community support center,” Rosario said.

Executives said that while they are doing their part to protect the transgender community, they have also reached out to the Newport News Police Department for a helping hand.

“We had conversations with Chief Drew at Newport News about how we can combine our services to reduce the rate of hate crimes here at Hampton Roads, but across the Peninsula and one of the things we decided to do is doing was to create hate crime prevention support here at ETS, ”Rosario said.

“I just want the community to benefit from the services, and I want the community to support the services because that’s how we’re going to have longevity in our agency,” said Byers.

ETS plans to work with Hampton delegates to develop laws that can protect the transgender community, as well as to contact Hampton Police on ways to prevent hate crimes.

Related: Local Nonprofit Launches Free Online Clothing Store to Support Transgender Community in Virginia