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Ohio’s First Transgender Health and Community Center Now Open in Columbus

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Ohio’s First Transgender Health and Community Center Now Open in ColumbusPhotos by Lauren Sega.
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Mozaic, Ohio’s first resource and community center for transgender, gender non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals, has opened its doors.

Situated near local bars Cafe Bourbon Street and The Summit, Mozaic and its colorful space fit the neighborhood. Program Director Cory Frederick says it’s a place where youth and young adults can come to relax in the common area, play video games, attend events, sing karaoke and practice yoga. A kitchenette provides food and means to make a meal.

“Every day, we have something to offer that is gender affirming,” says Frederick. “It’s a health and wellness opportunity for people to come in and learn about themselves, discover new friendships.”

Mozaic’s community space.

Open daily, it’ll also provide free HIV and STI testing every day, along with resources for housing, transportation and linkage to further health care.

Mozaic was launched in 2017 by Equitas Health and is funded through a five-year grant from the CDC. The goal is to prevent the spread of HIV among trans and gender non-conforming people of color (TGNCPOC), who according to CDC’s estimates live with HIV at triple the rate of the population at large.

Deemed a safe space for TGNCPOC, the center provides resources that alleviate the barriers that keep people from getting tested or seeking other health care. A 2016 report shows that few medical providers are sufficiently knowledgeable about gender identity. As a result, TGNCPOC face discrimination in health care, including dead-naming (using the name a trans person used before their transition) and the erasure of their gender identity. These experiences, along with income and homelessness, keep many from receiving the health care they need.

“I as an African-American, transgender person have had many very troubling experiences when seeking quality healthcare — troubling experiences even as someone who is, in many ways privileged — until I recently started utilizing the resources of Equitas Health,” said Equitas Health board member Tayo Clyburn at Mozaic’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 12. “Their culturally competent, empathetic practitioners have made all the difference in the way that I seek healthcare, the way I receive it, and my willingness to do so.”

Tayo Clyburn addresses a crowd at Mozaic’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Mozaic Outreach Coordinator Luster Singleton and Engagement Specialist MiKayla Robinson look on with City Councilmember Shannon Hardin.

HIV preventative care is at a point where the virus can be not only 100 percent preventable, but also 100 percent undetectable (which means untransmittable). Through medications like Pre- and Post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), providers have essentially achieved the birth control and Plan B of HIV. The trick is getting them into the hands of those who can’t easily access or afford them.

City Councilmember Shannon Hardin, who was also present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said Mozaic’s opening will keep those most vulnerable populations from slipping through the cracks.

“What I’m most proud about is that Equitas, through this grant, through this space, we are undergirding our community,” Hardin said. “We are keeping those young people safe.”

Mozaic is located at 2228 Summit St. For more information, visit mozaicohio.org.

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