To affect change that alleviates the systematic oppression of transgender people – especially those at the intersections of identity. We approach this work through advocacy, training, and direct services, using a social justice lens and mental health-centered model.
Gender Health Center is focused on providing an accessible therapy and counseling program for the gender variant community. We are interested in developing a collaboration with other agencies that are committed to addressing the full spectrum of issues specific to the transgender community in a positive approach for getting people to understand that there is a better life when gender identity issues are addressed in a safe and supportive environment.
Gender Health Center was originally the vision of one motivated and compassionate MFT graduate who saw a need in an underserved community and wanted to create a place where they can feel free to be themselves and get comfortable, affordable and non-judgmental counseling.
Danelle E. Saldana, M.A., MFT began the daunting task of forming the project in April of 2008. Her plan was vivid and nearly complete right from the start and a lot of prep work was done fairly quickly. She worked tirelessly on the GHC writing letters, making projections, and creating processes until she unexpectedly passed away in her sleep at 30 years old in early 2009.
Plans for the GHC stopped.
When other members of the community found out about this, they quickly jumped on board to finish the work that Danelle started. Community members met on a monthly basis as the interest for making this project all happen grew and grew. The planning finally came to completion early in 2010 allowing us to open our doors to the public on July 7, 2010.
We did our best to stick to Danelle’s dream and could not have done it without her detailed plans. She was a gifted therapist who impacted others far more than she realized. Her own happiness embraced the happiness of others. She will be missed but never forgotten.
Why “Gender Health Center”?
Some people wonder why we are called Gender Health Center, and some people flat out do not come to see us because they have “nothing wrong with their gender.” So why would we choose a name like “Gender Health Center” if we get this kind of feedback? Well, our visionary, Danelle Saldana, saw a need in an underserved community and wanted them to know that we can answer their questions, our counselors are trained in gender concerns, and they will not be treated like an unknown.
This doesn’t mean that we only see transgender or gender variant clients. We will see anyone for any reason without regard to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, marital status, veteran, or draft status. Danelle was an MFT graduate, so naturally we started out offering counseling, but her vision was of an all-encompassing health center and our plan is to expand to offer health services such as medical heath, nutritional health, and fitness. So don’t let the name fool you, we are here for you!
What’s up with the Ladybug?
That’s an easy one! Durring the planning stage of GHC, after Danelle’s death, her birthday came around and her mother (who was on the planning committee) brought cupcakes with little ladybugs on them. When we asked what the meaning behind the ladybug was, she replied, “That’s what I used to call her. My little Ladybug.” To honor her as our visionary we decided that a ladybug had to be our logo. Not to mention, nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky and many believe that ladybugs are messengers of forthcoming change. In France, if a Ladybug landed on you, whatever ailment you had would fly away with the Ladybug. Now we ask you … Why NOT a ladybug?