For Christine Coleman, troubling news has unfortunately been a constant since childhood. But not even experiences with foster care and ugly custody battles as a kid, or living in homeless shelters as a young trans Latinx woman could have prepared her for the worst news in her life: her father has passed away. For the past five years, Christine devoted herself to being her father, Craig’s state-registered caretaker. She finally found her peace, her purpose. After a rocky battle with his health, Craig was finally well enough to be admitted to the hospital for a “routine hip replacement,” as Christine described it.
“He used to say that 80-year-old grandmas survive hip surgery,” Christine explained. “So I thought he would, too.”
After three long months in ICU, Craig passed away from complications of the surgery in June. Since Christine turned 25 shortly after his passing, she no longer qualified for various services for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, since the cutoff is 24.
A recent homeless count in Los Angeles reported 9,000 people under the age of 24 experiencing homelessness, with a staggering 40 percent of identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, according to the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Homelessness as a whole in LA County increased by12 percent over the past year.
To worsen the situation for Christine – even in the with the threat of homelessness and the mourning process still looming – she faces pressure from unsupportive relatives to clear out her father’s storage and home. Christine says that once the lease is up in September, her relatives who own the house do not intend to let her stay. So, in one agonizing summer, Christine finds herself fatherless, jobless and nearly homeless. Still, she fights on, hoping her story will resonate with someone.
“I can’t even properly grieve his passing,” Christine says. “My family keeps getting on me to empty his storage so they don’t have to pay for it anymore.”
Christine says that her father was a collector of WWII memorabilia. She says that she simply does not have the time she wants to sort through it all.
“It’s just me all by myself taking care of everything,” Christine said. “I hate to think that all this stuff that has both sentimental and monetary value is being thrown out. Just like that, my dad’s legacy is trashed.”
Growing up, Christine’s father fought hard to keep her and her seven siblings out of foster care, and then to get them back once they were placed in a group home. She also says that her father always supported her trans identity.
“It’s just always been a part of who I am,” Christine said. “Even when he was sick and incoherent in the hospital, when the nurse asked, he always knew he had four daughters, including me in that number.”
Though she had her father’s full support, Christine still finds it difficult navigating the world in his passing, specifically job hunting. She says that hiring managers are confused by the discrepancy between her resume/interviews versus the birth name that shows up on all her paperwork.
“They don’t understand, and they don’t take the time to,” Christine said. “Everything goes well during the interviews, but I have trouble advancing farther than that.”
Transgender & gender nonconforming people experience double the rate of unemployment and are more likely to experience “debilitating negative outcomes” from such unemployment, according to a survey conducted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and National Center For Transgender Equality entitled “Injustice At Every Turn.”
In the wake of her father’s death, Christine create a GoFundMe page to raise some money to help her get a new start. She says that she wants to use the money to find legal justice for her father’s death, make repairs to her current home before being evicted and, finally, move away for a fresh start on life.
“I’m ready to get away from this all, to be free.”
For more information, visit Christine’s GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/craigandchris