Rose is an intern-therapist at The Women’s Center, as well as a tutor. She has worked with at-risk youth—and especially LGBT* populations—for the past decade. Rose was herself an at-risk youth and knows firsthand the  difference a good social worker can make. She has turned her own transgender and human journey into a fertile soil of service; she plans to continue working as a gender therapist and community activist until they drag her away.

Life is full of transitions, some more obvious than others.

But the process is the same—in a series of adjustments great and small, we painstakingly blossom into who we are. We are best guesses, closest approximations of our better selves, and each transition, hopefully, moves us one step closer to our genuine self.

When I first came to The Women’s Center, I was in the midst of several transitions. I was becoming the woman I’d always been, but I was also becoming the woman I’d always been—which is to say, a fairly disempowered one. I struggled with self-esteem, body issues, panic attacks—as my therapist told me, “Welcome to womanhood!”

I wondered, especially, if I was an authentic enough woman to work at The Women’s Center.

Didn’t they know what a beginner I was?

Didn’t they know I used to be one of them? (Sorry, guys!)

The short answer is, yes, and they didn’t care.

The slightly longer answer is that being the extraordinary place it is, The Women’s Center transformed me.

Social service, I am learning, is a reciprocal art. We are moved as we move others.

The Women’s Center is many things—a safe harbor on a troubled sea, a lantern in the night—and it is also a house of transformation. It transmutes dis-empowerment to possibility; helplessness to hope. And as it does so, it transforms staff and stakeholder alike. The arc of treatment is mutual.

To pick an anecdote of this type is to simply walk through my day:

There is “J,” the young trans/man, who has turned his social anxiety into an inspiring ability to accept and be a part of stillness and whose wonderfully dark humor keeps me on my toes.

There is “A,” the mother who has lost so much and yet loves so much more.

There is “L,” the trans/woman of color, whose powerful, unashamed resilience has reminded me to wear my truth proudly.

There is the author who brings me into the process of creation.

And there is the single-mother who made my career by telling me she sought me out because she thought a trans/therapist would be a good guide for an authentic life, something I had never considered.

Every day we are blessed with real people showing us what it means to be human; we are lucky enough to witness the wisdom and capacity to love that comes from the soil of honest suffering. And in walking through the forest together we know it better ourselves.

Life is full of transitions, some more obvious than others.

I was insecure and withdrawn. I was full of self-doubt. Being a woman involves more than hormones. I was seeking a deeper transformation, something from within. And I found my circle, my people, my chosen family. Because that’s the kind of place The Women’s Center is.

If you are lost, it’s a map; if you are thirsty, it’s a well. If you are an awkward trans-girl, it will help you find your voice. Because The Women’s Center accepts who you are and encourages who you want to be, it is home.

Because it practices collaboration instead of competition, it is safe. Because it’s a place where your humanity is the most important identity, it is family.

At best, I forget I am transgender. And that’s how it is at The Women’s Center—I am Rose the person, first. And in the same way, our clients are treated with the dignity they deserve. In making the changes ourselves, we help make them in others.

Life is full of transitions, some more obvious than others. Every client and therapist The Women’s Center transforms, becomes a transformative agent themselves. The Women’s Center has helped me realize it’s possible to be strong, empowered and feminine. It has taught me that I have things to say and that they matter. It has shown me that how we treat each other is as important as how we treat ourselves.

And in those lessons has been a common theme: We must be the change we seek

  • When we see injustice, we must seek to be fair.
  • When we see fear, we must seek to be brave.
  • When we see inequity, we must seek to be of service.

The Women’s Center is where the real world meets the ideal, and we like to think that it’s at least an even fight. From the Board to the staff to the volunteers, there is a spirit that permeates, and it heals all who come into contact with it. That spirit is how I found my voice. That spirit is what calls to my humanity.

And that spirit is what brings us together for social justice, for you are such an important part of it. If someone is hurt, we will try to mend it. If someone is worried we will try to soothe it—and always we try to hear and understand it.

Life is full of transitions, some more obvious than others. If perhaps I didn’t first discover my gender identity at The Women’s Center, I was finally nurtured to life there. If I already had a rough draft, The Women’s Center added that uplifting chapter. The Women’s Center taught me how to be an empowered woman, just as it teaches countless others.