From Grapevine to Online: SPECTRUM creates an online directory of local service providers for the transgender community

From Grapevine to Online: SPECTRUM creates an online directory of local service providers for the transgender community

For those who identify as transgender, learning about service providers was often information shared during an informal chat after peer support meetings at SPECTRUM, an LGBTQ2+ community organization providing a supportive, positive and safe place for people of all ages in Waterloo Region. COVID-19 has temporarily halted those in-person meetings, but accelerated the launch of another initiative to move this information online.

The TransNAV GPS service, created by SPECTRUM, aims to help community members who identify as transgender find local service providers that are friendly to, and knowledgeable about, the transgender community.

“As a result of the lockdown, we found that the grapevine that happened after meetings where people would chat and get referrals for these services suddenly stopped,” says Melissa Kennedy, a SPECTRUM Board Member, transgender services coordinator and the project lead for the TransNAV GPS. “We had been considering this project for a while, and the pandemic really jumpstarted the fulfillment of that need.”

To help the TransNAV GPS project move from concept to action, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) provided SPECTRUM with $27,500 in funding through the Emergency Community Support Fund. The funding was used to hire consultants, who conducted research on service providers interested in being a part of the project.

“This funding meant we could get the project started, which was the hardest part,” says Kennedy. “At the time, SPECTRUM was purely a volunteer organization, and finding volunteers to work on this during business hours is difficult. So this gave us the ability to hire individuals to work on this solidly for six to eight weeks.”

The online directory currently includes more than 160 local providers in a variety of areas, such as: medical, mental health, employment, legal, housing, social organizations and personal care.

Not only does the directory provide resources in a wide variety of areas, it’s also focused on service providers that are local to Waterloo Region, which was an important element of the project. Kennedy says that often, in order to find trans-friendly and trans-knowledgeable service providers, people have to travel far distances, and at great expense.

“Our real desire is to increase the number of local directory entries so that no one has to drive to Toronto or London to access these services,” says Kennedy.

The TransNAV GPS officially launched on May 13, 2021. Service providers who are interested in being included in the directory can contact transgender-services-director@ourspectrum.com. SPECTRUM also welcomes all feedback, which can be provided through a form on this webpage: www.ourspectrum.com/transnav.

To learn more about SPECTRUM, participate in their programs, or provide support to their initiatives, visit www.ourspectrum.com. For more information about the Emergency Community Support Fund, visit www.kwcf.ca/covid19-ecsf, or email info@kwcf.ca.

View the article at https://www.kwcf.ca/news/spectrum

To learn more about things that SPECTRUM has organized for Pride 2021 check www.ourspectrum.com/pride.

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