Julisa Abad is a transgender woman living in Detroit, Michigan. Since moving to the Palmer Park neighborhood, a part of town with an LGBTQ-friendly reputation, she has struggled to find consistent housing and employment. She’s become an outspoken advocate for the transgender community in Detroit, frequently speaking openly about the challenges that she and many other transgender women face and supporting her peers by connecting them with resources to improve their lives.
One of the hardest aspects of life as a trans woman of color in Detroit, she said, is being stereotyped as a sex worker. “I don’t know anyone who chooses sex work,” Julisa said. “We are out there working because we don’t have a choice. It is the only opportunity many of us have. We need to survive.” She compared life as a trans woman of color in her neighborhood to the Wild Wild West, saying she feels unsafe just walking to the store.
As she continues to dedicate herself to supporting other transgender women, Julisa hopes to one day work professionally with a career in advocacy. She wants to help more transgender people find safety and stability and advocate against discriminatory policies and treatment. “I speak three languages, I have a college education, and I type eighty-five words a minute. There is no reason that I should not be able to get an opportunity. I can help. I know what we need!”