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Meet Miliana Singh of LGBTQ Center Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Miliana Singh.

Miliana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to California in 2016 and reached out to the LGBTQ Center OC to see if I could somehow get involved. I wasn’t sure how but wanted to support the community. After speaking to the Trans Coordinator at that time, they told me about the Trans committee and so I had to sign up!

I started volunteering and speaking at colleges and universities about Trans healthcare and medicine. I shared my experience exploring access to healthcare as a Trans woman. In addition, I attended my first Trans Pride OC event and helped facilitate the makeup tutorial.

After volunteering for a year, I started working for the Center officially! They were huge shoes to fill but I was ready for the task at hand.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it has not been a smooth road. Very bumpy. A lot of turbulence.

Some of the struggles were employment discrimination, healthcare disparities, family and societal rejection.

I work to create more affirming access to care because I started my medical transition self medicating with black market hormones for the first four years. I was refused healthcare and hormones by a few different doctors at the age of 16 which led me to self medicate at the age of 17. I was my own doctor figuring out my hormones and dosages off of what I found online. Once doctors found out I was self-medicating, they turned a blind eye and refused to provide legal hormones and do bloodwork to make sure I wasn’t harming myself.

I transitioned in the south with limited access to Trans related healthcare. I eventually found an endocrinologist that could provide hormones (an hour and a half away from my home) and all of my doctor visits were out of pocket. When everything ends up being out of pocket, it often leaves people to seek black market care.

I’ve had black market silicone injections which have claimed the lives of two of my friends. The work I do now is full circle as I am able to help people in the Trans community so that they don’t make the same decisions that I had to make.

Please tell us about LGBTQ Center Orange County.
The LGBTQ Center OC was established as a volunteer organization in 1971 and incorporated in 1975 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based organization. We are one of the oldest gay and lesbian community centers in the United States.

At the LGBTQ Center OC, all members and allies of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community of Orange County join together in a network of support and unity. Our life-affirming programs focus on empowerment, and our advocacy efforts focus on speaking out against hate and discrimination. We exist so that every segment of the LGBTQ population of Orange County has the resources needed to thrive in their own lives and communities.

The LGBTQ Center Orange County provides services to more than 14,000 individuals annually across a broad spectrum of culture, ethnicity, age, and economic background. Programming is especially designed for gay men, lesbians, youth, the transgender community, the Spanish-speaking LGBTQ community, the bisexual community, and LGBTQ families.

I am the Health Care and Transgender Services Coordinator at the LGBTQ Center OC. I oversee the Linkage to Care Program where we connect clients to affirming providers and help navigate insurance. I also provide Trans affirming services/programs, i.e., Trans Orientation and Name & Gender Marker Change Clinic. Lastly, I serve as the chair for the Trans Committee where we put on important community events such as Trans Pride OC, Trans Day of Visibility, Trans day of Remembrance, and Friendsgiving.

I’m most proud of the LGBTQ Center OC’s impact on this community – reaching over 14,000 clients. Providing and linking them to services such as: mental health affirming counseling, youth groups and services, health care and trans services, immigration resources, and community gatherings.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Brit Cervantes. They were one of the first people I met when I moved to California. They were able to connect me with UCI and start that partnership. They’ve been an insurance and health care mentor. But above all, Brit has been an incredible person in my professional journey.

Dr. Kristen Vierregger, from Metamorphosis Medical Center, has been very inspirational with the work she’s done with the Trans community. She’s inspired me to learn various ways in which I can provide more for the community.

Trans Committee. They’ve been my family and biggest supporters. They’ve had my back and have been there for me. All the things we’ve been able to accomplish is due to them. I couldn’t put on the amazing events without them and their support.

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