Meet the first of 5 Brooklyn finalists for the David Prize: transgender advocate Cecilia Gentili

Six Brooklynites are amongst the finalists for the 2022 David Prize, an award that celebrates “extraordinary” New Yorkers by giving them the funds for tasks that intention to vary New York City for the higher.

The David Prize provides $200,000 of unrestricted capital to every of 5 New Yorkers from all boroughs who can positively impression the metropolis with social, financial, cultural or environmental advocacy to resolve pressing issues. 

“We are looking for ideas where the funding can be really catalytic or provide a real boost for visionary New Yorkers,” mentioned Erika Boll, David Prize govt director. “We take into consideration what New York needs most every year when we choose who to fund. Those priorities change, so we ultimately look at the person, the right people to build what they say they want to build and we wanna make sure that is urgent.”

New Yorkers looking for to enhance New York City can apply or be nominated for the David Prize, which awards every of 5 winners a $200,000 grant. Courtesy of The David Prize/Facebook

Immigration, housing, schooling and the reclaiming of public areas have been widespread causes that the prize helps. Boll mentioned that in the previous couple of years, the group has obtained many nominations of folks working to assist for front-line staff in a “broad sense.”

“It’s not just healthcare,” she mentioned. “It’s been everything from folks in hospitality to nightlife. We have seen a lot from street vendors to folks who continue to make New York city run as beautifully and joyfully as it always has been, but who may have historically not been considered what is generally understood as ‘front-line workers.”

In 2021, two Brooklynites have been amongst the winners —Felicia Wilson, CEO and founder of What About Us Inc., a mentoring group for younger adults transitioning from foster care to maturity, and Fela Barclift, founder and director of Little Sun People, a care center specifically tailor-made for Black and Brown youngsters.

Brooklyn Paper will break down this year’s record of finalist based mostly in Kings County beginning with Cecilia Gentili, a intercourse work and transgender rights activist. 

Gentili moved from Argentina to the United States in 1999 looking out of a greater, safer life as an out transgender lady. She was undocumented and have become a intercourse employee to make a dwelling whereas combating a extreme drug habit. She was incarceration and positioned in immigration detention.

“I was in Rikers Island, locked up with men even when my transition was established, which was dangerous for me, and I needed substance dependency treatment,” Gentili mentioned. “As soon as I got the services I needed, my passion for advocating and helping others began.”

Since she obtained asylum, Gentili has grow to be a famend transgender activist whose work has impacted the queer and trans motion. She has helped form coverage, receive authorities funding for trans-led organizations, and enhance transgender New Yorkers’ entry to healthcare.

“I am very lucky to have survive the hard realities that my different communities —immigrants, sex workers, transgender people and those who struggle with addictions — have to endure,” Gentili mentioned. “Even after many years of work, the truth is that as progressive as New York is, there are still many transphobic people.”

A couple of years in the past, Gentili was assaulted in the L practice. Her aggressor punched her and yelled transphobic slurs at her. “No one did anything,” she mentioned. But she was not discouraged.

She went on to work for New York City’s Apicha Community Health Center, managing a trans well being clinic that she grew from 4 sufferers to over 500. Then she grew to become the Managing Director of Policy at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis non-profit, the world’s first organization devoted to HIV/AIDS prevention.

Gentili additionally led the DecrimNY marketing campaign, which efficiently decriminalized intercourse work in New York. The laws she promoted repealed the “loitering for purposes of prostitution” regulation, which many mentioned was unfairly used to focus on, harass, and arrest trans and gender non-conforming folks.

“I was arrested for being a sex worker out of necessity and I thought, ‘This shouldn’t happen to anybody,” she mentioned. “We called it walking while trans, because it mostly affected trans women in Queens that were already targeted by police. They would get arrested for being at the corner. They were stopped, frisked and taken.”

Gentili was the important chief behind the wellness and fairness (*5*) for trans of us in NYC, which offered $1.8 million for providers that have been beforehand inaccessible. She additionally spearheaded a free well being clinic for intercourse staff at Callen Lorde and he or she has skilled over 5,000 service suppliers all through her career. 

Today, Gentili is the creator of Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist, and he or she is engaged on a second guide. If she wins the David Prize, Gentili plans to make use of the funds to bolster her present endeavor, present endeavor: Transgender Equity consulting, which advises companies on inclusive hiring and protected work areas.

The 5 2022 winners of the David Prize can be introduced in October.

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