From Their Perspectives
“My name is Scarlet and I am a 22 year-old transgender young woman. I came to Casa de Belen after a brief stint of homelessness. I had been living with my wife and her family, but it had become extremely stressful – stressful to the point of being demotivating. I needed to find a less chaotic environment. I decided that being homeless was a better choice than continuing to try to function where I was. I ended up staying in a tent around town for a while. Then a friend of a friend let me stay in her basement for a couple of weeks. I knew this wouldn’t continue to work. I had a job and needed a consistent and stable place to sleep and shower.
I had learned about Casa de Belen through my involvement with Umpqua Watersheds. I had volunteered to help supervise the Casa de Belen kids on a camping trip to Twin Lakes that Casa de Belen attended as guests of Umpqua Watersheds. I got to know some of the staff members and residents. When I had heard about the different ways that Casa de Belen had helped some of the teens and young adults on that trip, I was impressed with how much Casa de Belen had assisted these youth in getting their lives in order and getting back on their feet. It occurred to me that I was a youth in that position and perhaps Casa de Belen could help me get out of the situation I was in.
I called and ended up speaking with Penny McCue, the Executive Director. It was pretty late at night and she had happened to be there working late and by chance answered the phone. I told her of my situation. She informed me that there were no available rooms in the Men’s Hall at that time, but that I could be put on the wait list. I was a bit hesitant, but I then disclosed to her that I was a transgender woman (in transition from male to female). At that moment, she said, “Well you’re in luck. We happen to have a room available in the Women’s Hall. We would never put a woman in the Men’s Hall.” I had to secretly laugh to myself. I was used to people having a different response to me being transgender. For Penny, it was just a totally normal thing. I was very much relieved.
I was given an interview the next day. I met the staff and was treated like “a normal human.” I showed up and went through the interview process. Nothing felt out of place. No one focused on the fact that I was transgender or made a big deal about it. It was a really comfortable welcome. I was able to move in immediately. When I moved into Casa de Belen the acceptance I had received from the staff continued with the residents. I got along with everybody. I remember I remember my first night there. After I had moved all my stuff into my room, I laid on the bed, l smiled to myself and thought, “This feels nice.” I was in my own room. I had a place that was mine to sleep each night. That in itself was magic.”