Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Philadelphia Neighborhoods is a publication of the Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab at Temple University.

What is a parent to do when they suspect that their young child might be transgender? When their son feels more comfortable wearing his sister’s dresses? Or their daughter asks to be referred to as “he?”

For parents in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, the answer to that is to go and see Dane Menkin, a family nurse practitioner at the Mazzoni Center, an LGBT health care and wellness center located in Center City. Menkin, alongside Dr. Andrew Goodman and Elaine Dutton, works as part of Mazzoni’s P.A.C.T.S. (Pediatric and Adolescent Comprehensive Transgender Services) program. It is his job to determine whether or not a child moves forward with the program upon their first visit.

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One of Bella Santos’ fears was that she would never be loved. It may not be a common fear for most 17-year-old girls, but it’s one that was even echoed by Santos’ mother.

“Gay men want men and straight men want women,” she would say. “Where do you fall?”

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Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA community now has more places than ever to go to for their health care needs.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named nine Philadelphia area hospitals and health centers Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality in their 2014 Healthcare Equality Index report. The number is up from only three health centers featured in the 2013 report. That increase is thanks in part to the addition of all four hospitals in the University of Pennsylvania Health System: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and the Chester County Hospital.

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Andrew Greene has only had to draw his gun once. It was 22 years ago when Greene, then 23-years-old, was followed by a group of men while walking to his car after leaving a bar in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood.

“They followed me a good five or six blocks,” said Greene. “One of them shouted, ‘Hey faggot!’ at me. I looked and realized that they had some pipes or sticks or something, which, needless to say, was disturbing. So, I drew on them.”

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Chris Bartlett has been involved in the LGBTQIA community for more than 20 years. His career began with SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project in the early 90s. Bartlett was inspired by the work he saw being done at Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center when he was recruited for the executive director position four years ago and he’s been there ever since.

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Everyone knows that Philadelphia as a city full of American history. Although it also has a rich and important history with the LGBTQIA community, Philadelphia is often overshadowed in that respect by such cities as San Francisco and New York.

In preparation for LGBT History Month in October, Philadelphia Neighborhoods worked with Bob Skiba, the archivist at the William Way Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives, to put together a list of five important moments in Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA history.

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