Trans, Teen and Homeless: America’s Most Vulnerable Population

By Laura Rena Murray—Rolling Stone—September 26, 2017—

One summer evening, in New York’s West Village, Justice and Sophie peer into passing cars, searching out men who might offer a bed for the night and some cash for sex. A black Lexus stops at the curb, and Sophie leans into the window. She wears her curly hair pulled back at the nape of her neck, and slopes her shoulders in the hope of making her lanky frame appear more petite. Two pearl bracelets slide down her right forearm, and her chipped mauve nail polish matches the leggings under her short black halter dress. The driver, a familiar client, is an older man wearing a baseball hat. He asks to see Sophie’s penis for 10 bucks. She turns him down, hoping he’ll offer more. Justice tells Sophie the same man was looking for her the previous night. He circles the block three more times but they ignore him. “He’s playing with me too much,” Sophie says.

In the Dominican Republic, where Sophie was born, her mother struggled with addiction and sent Sophie to live with her grandmother in New York when she was six months old. Her grandmother, who was able to send the family money, food and clothing, Sophie says, by pimping out undocumented girls, was nearly beaten to death by two men when Sophie was in the fourth grade. Both her grandmother and her father hit her, she says, and sometimes locked her out of the house. “It was more hatred than discipline,” she recalls. “My dad would beat me in the shower with a belt and punch me in the face, calling me a faggot. Then he’d turn around and say, ‘I love you.’ How can you treat me like this if you love me?”