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Project of the Quad Cities receives $80,000 grant for gender-affirming care

Tyler Mitchell, marketing and communication manager, and Viminda Shafer, community relations and development coordinator of the Project of the Quad Cities, attended Taco 'Bout A Nonprofit Fair in August of 2023.
The Project of the Quad Cities
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Jaycees of the Quad Cities
Tyler Mitchell, marketing and communication manager, and Viminda Shafer, community relations and development coordinator of the Project of the Quad Cities, attended Taco 'Bout A Nonprofit Fair in August of 2023.

The Project of the Quad Cities is expanding gender-affirming care thanks to a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Public Institute of Metropolitan Chicago. The grant is for the new Transgender and Gender Diverse Wellness and Equity Program.

The LGBTQ+ healthcare organization has been serving about 100 people with gender-affirming care for about a year, according to Tyler Mitchell, Marketing & Communications Manager at the Project.

"What we are specifically planning on doing with these grant dollars is putting it into a program navigator position," Mitchell said. " And that person will work with our clients who are receiving gender-affirming care to access resources in the organization and outside the organization from other area service providers."

According to Mitchell, the Project of the Quad Cities is receiving $80,000, and any remaining funds outside the program navigator position will cover program expenses for gender-affirming care. He hopes the position is filled by the end of the calendar year.

These services include therapy for youth and adults, hormone therapy, and surgery, which is not performed on-site. During his interview with WVIK, Mitchell says youth are not offered surgery as part of gender-affirming care.

"There is often a rumor or people will say children are receiving surgeries, and that is simply not the case," Mitchell said. "There are many providers who testified in different state houses across the country who again said that it's always after age eighteen. In very rare cases are minors having any type of surgery."

After Iowa banned gender-affirming care for youth in March 2023, Mitchell says more patients sought care at the Project of the Quad Cities.

"Not even from the immediate Quad Cities, but we have folks coming from the Des Moines area who previously might have gone to the University of Iowa to access those services but no longer can," Mitchell said in an in-person interview at the Project of the Quad Cities.

The Project also offers STI and HIV testing, counseling, LGBTQ+ healthcare, outreach services, and harm reduction.

Mitchell says an example of an outreach service is Clock Inc., focusing on LGBTQ+ individuals.

"For example, they offer a clothing closet where folks can come in and receive free clothing that matches their gender identity; that's a resource we don't necessarily have here," Mitchell said. "Again, it's about connecting people with resources in our community if it doesn't exist here at the Project."

The Project employs 38 people ranging from case managers to behavioral health specialists.

One of the main goals of the Project is to help people feel comfortable with their identity.

"I tell people there are trans and gender-diverse people in our community, you interact with them, you talk to them, you might not necessarily know it," Mitchell said. "They deserve the exact same healthcare services that everybody else deserves, and gender-affirming care is lifesaving care...it's just a simple fact of the matter."

This Saturday, June 15, the Project is hosting a 5K run celebrating Pride Month and raising funds to continue services with a party in the afternoon.

"Those are events I would encourage the community to come and provide support," Mitchell said.

Those interested can find more details on their website.

Brady is a 2021 Augustana College graduate majoring in Multimedia Journalism-Mass Communication and Political Science. Over the last eight years, he has reported in central Illinois at various media outlets, including The Peoria Journal Star, WCBU Peoria Public Radio, Advanced Media Partners, and WGLT Bloomington-Normal's Public Media.