On January 9, the Southern Transgender Resource Center in Norfolk officially opened the Seven City’s only transgender shelter with a ribbon cutting. The shelter can house up to 12 people and is named the Lamia House after Lamia Beard, a local transgender woman who was murdered in 2015.
Tarena Williams, the founder of the Center, said, “This has been a dream of mine for many years. And now we have a place that people can go that’s safe, clean, and has all the amenities to live comfortably.”
Williams knows first-hand the often-dangerous challenges trans people face on the street. She was brutally attacked several years ago in a hotel room and narrowly avoided death.
“At the time, I lived in a hotel for about a month,” she said. “I met this guy online, and he forced his way into my room in the middle of the night. He sexually assaulted me, shot me, and left me for dead.”
“This is why it’s so important to provide a more permanent shelter for trans people so they can feel safe, go find a job, and build a life off the street.”
That’s also why Williams founded the Center in 2018. Located in a row of storefronts on North Colley Avenue in Norfolk, the Center is a non-profit community outreach center serving the local transgender community. Free services provided by the Center include connecting the community with housing, jobs, school supplies, and even masks during the pandemic. It’s also simply a place where the community can gather for socializing and support.
But in the end, Tarena says the the community’s most vital need is stable housing.
“Most people who come in here are looking for housing. And just making sure that everybody is under one roof is so important to being able to move their lives forward.”