Albert first attempted suicide a few days shy of his 17 birthday. Earlier that year he found the courage to tell his family about his identity. He was met with transphobia, forced into conversion therapy, and became the target of severe physical and emotional abuse.
His second attempt at suicide was following a Christmas break. He had been in and out of psychiatric facilities because of his mental health and had spent the holiday with his parents who had staged a religious intervention led by members of his family's church.
One day he decided he couldn't take the abuse any longer. Much like many of the young people in our care, Albert felt safer on the streets than in the home of the people who were supposed to love and care for him unconditionally.
Albert found the Ali Forney Center on the internet when he searched for services for transgender homeless individuals. Online he learned about our Transgender housing program and dedicated services. For the first time he felt that there might be an end to his nightmare.
Within a few hours of arriving at our 24 hour Drop In Center in Harlem, he met with a medical professional at our on-site medical clinic and was offered a bed in our Emergency housing Program. He was offered a shower, gender-affirming clothing, and a warm meal.
Above all of the things Albert was offered, he was most impacted by speaking with individuals who affirmed, accepted, and acknowledged his gender. He says he never thought that he would live to be accepted.
Albert is spending his first holiday with us. We're working on his mental health care plan, addressing the trauma he's experienced, preparing him for school, and above all reminding him every day that there is nothing wrong with his identity.
This holiday season, support the work we are doing with Albert and the over 1,400 young people who come to us each year.