Office opens in York with resources for transgender people
'We're here': Transgender people have new office in York for resources, help with life skills ...
Krystyna McIlroy is happy with her life, comfortable in her skin and living her truth. She is not ashamed of her past, and rather uses it to fuel her drive to help others in the transgender community — a community she’s been part of for over 40 years.
But it hasn't always been easy.
"I’ve been a woman all my life," McIlroy said. "Growing up, it always felt different. And that was scary."
McIlroy serves as the treasurer of The Transology Association Inc. of York, an organization quietly spreading encouragement with the simple message: "Trans people are sacred."
The group opened The York Office for Transgender Affairs last month at 32 N. Queen St. to service transgender people as a liaison to support systems, medical care and access, housing opportunities and employment training.
The space will be used to teach life skills, connect individuals with mental health specialists and be an open space to share dialogue and conversations, too. Currently, the organization is waiting on its 501C3 clearance.
The Transology Association opened The York Office for Transgender Affairs at 32 North Queen Street last month. The space is dedicated to helping the transgender communities by offering free education, support services and special programs.
"The transgender community needs a place they can go to seek information, get help, support, documents on a regular basis," said Michael Greyfeather, president and CEO of Transology. "A support group meeting once a month just doesn’t cut it."
That's why, Greyfeather said, the office is open five days a week and is run by transgender individuals who have lived and worked full- and part-time as their preferred gender for years now.
They are there to offer guidance as individuals who have first-hand experience with the issues, problems and discrimination that the transgender population endures.
"When I came out, everyone and everything shifted," McIlroy said. "So now I tell those I help: I took that bullet so you don’t have to."
Compared to national averages across all communities, transgender Pennsylvanians are more likely to live in poverty, be homeless or deal with discrimination at work or when looking for a home, according to a survey released in 2017. Transgender women of color often face the brunt of anti-transgender violence on a national scale.
In addition to the risk of homelessness, transgender people might also have to worry about the criminal justice system, lack of employment, physical violence, mental and medical health and much more, Greyfeather said.
Already in 2021, at least 29 transgender or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means nationally, according to the Human Relations Commission.
In 2020, HRC tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people, with a total of 44 fatalities. They included 27-year-old Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, who grew up in York, and whose body was found dismembered and discarded in the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia last June.
In the midst of fatal violence and everyday discrimination against transgender people across the country, Greyfeather said, they wanted the freedom of their message to be available to other transgender people.
He said their project might not change any minds or sway any transphobic opinions, but that's OK — it's there to protect and encourage transgender Pennsylvanians.
"An aspect of how oppression affects people is in how spaces look, and whether people see themselves reflected in the actual physical space that they're navigating," Greyfeather said. "We don't see a lot of representation of trans people — it's more and more, but having this office in town, it's like hey, we're here."