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  • Writer's pictureMadison Naves

My Sistah’s House Creates Forever Homes For Transgender Women Of Color

by Madison Naves | WeINSPIRE Journalist

BIRMINGHAM, AL. -- DeAngelous Williams is the Associate Director of Programs for My Sistah’s House (MSH) in Memphis, Tennessee. Every morning she wakes up to face the unknown and expect the unexpected before fixing her cup of coffee.

“Every day’s a new day of opportunities and experiences,” said Williams.

It is opportunity and experience that MSH grants to transgender and queer people of color (TQPOC) through love and care.

MSH is a social service and advocacy organization that provides emergency housing, sustainability, and resources for transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGN) people of color (POC). MSH was founded in Memphis, Tennessee, by Kayla Gore and Illyahnna Wattshall in 2016.

The organization began as a shelter for transgender women seeking security when Gore and Wattshall noticed the need for protection tailored towards other transgender women.

Residents and volunteers from My Sistah’s House. Courtesy of

What began as eight open beds for TQPOC has expanded into advocacy, legal assistance, bail funds, stable incomes, and permanent housing. MSH primarily targets TQPOC because of the challenges they face within the U.S., such as increased rates of intimate partner violence, sex trafficking, incarceration, and housing insecurity.

The National Center for Transgender Equality states that one and five transgender people face discrimination while seeking a home, with more than one and ten experiencing eviction. Along with facing illegal housing discrimination, homelessness is also a critical issue for transgender people. One and five transgender individuals experience homelessness, with discrimination, violence, and family rejection being a direct cause.

“We see a lot of poverty and homelessness; We see a lot of girls who are in and out of the streets who don’t really have a place of their own,” said Williams.

She says that it is not uncommon for shelters to lack proper accommodation for transgender people. Some shelters have strict criteria, religious requirements, or improper placement for transgender people.

“It’s easy for a girl, such as myself, to get lost in the system,” said Williams.

Williams’s own story includes escaping sex trafficking and overcoming addiction which she credits to the shelter and stability brought to her by MSH.

DeAngelous Williams, Associate Director of Programs for MSH. Courtesy of DeAngelous Williams.

Williams mentioned that improper accommodations and discrimination within shelters could lead to a loss of identity for TQPOC.

Gore realized it might be helpful and fulfilling for other transgender women to acquire proper shelter from another transgender woman. Therefore, MSH offers support to TQPOC by providing housing for 30 days unless extended for more. During the 30 days, women learn to care for their minds, bodies, and spirit through classes addressing mental and physical health, financial stability, and volunteer work.

“We’re always in work mode; This is a 24-hour job,” said Williams.

Although African-American and American Indian people face higher rates of discrimination within the transgender community, MSH still finds time to help people from all walks of life. They offer weekly meals to individuals in need and survival kits during their “Hot Meal Thursday'' program. They also host networking events and educational sessions to discuss rights, safety, and counseling.

MSH residents volunteering during Hot Meal Thursday. Courtesy of

“We are not just a shelter; We offer a plethora of resources,” said Williams. “There’s a place for every woman and every girl that comes here.”

MSH stands proudly behind its word by helping people any way it can. The organization is currently in the process of building 20 fully furnished and funded tiny homes for TQPOC.

In the past year, MSH has successfully sheltered over 35 Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer (TLGBQ) people while providing ongoing resources to secure over 100 others. They continue to be their “Sister’s Keeper,” with Williams adding that MSH is here to stay alongside other transgender women.

Residents of MSH attending a rally. Courtesy of

To support My Sistah’s House and find resources for TLGBQ individuals, please visit or consider donating to MSH’s Tiny Home Go Fund Me.

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