Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



LETTERS to Survivors

This article shared 2000 times since Wed Apr 24, 2019
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

You are survivors

My name is Ashwini Krishnakumar, and I am the youth anti-violence advocate at Center on Halsted.

As a woman of color and an advocate for the LGBTQ community, I am very passionate about the work I am doing. People deserve to have a voice, and I work to empower people to share their voice as well as creating spaces that listen. In my role at COH, I provide case management, individual therapy, and group therapy for youth affected by interpersonal violence, sexual violence, and community-based violence. Within the last two months, though, I have noticed that a majority of the clients on my caseload are survivors of sexual assault.

In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I write this letter to survivors. Society and media tend to focus on the abuser, which is important and necessary to hold people accountable. However, we do not hear or see enough messages intended with survivors in mind. I want to change that. I hope this letter can be a model of how we talk to survivors, and if you are a survivor, I hope this letter makes you feel loved. Because you are.

Dear Survivor,

I am glad you are here. Thank you for being vulnerable with me. I am sorry for the trauma you have endured — you did not deserve it. It was not your fault. It does not matter what you were wearing, if you were drunk, or if your abuser was a friend, family member, spouse, or colleague. I will say this as many times as you need to hear it. This was not, and never will be, your fault. I believe you.

Let's check in with your breath; take a deep breath in and exhale slowly. Repeat as many times as you need.

It is your choice to decide how you want to proceed with recovering from this experience and I am here to assist you every step of the way. This is happening to more people than we talk about. You are not alone. Everything you are feeling is valid. This was not, and never will be, your fault. I believe you. I accept you, and I will not judge you. Be patient with yourself and lean into those emotions. This is how we heal. Take a moment to accept the feeling that is coming up.

Let's check in with your body; move your legs around, move your torso side-to-side and front to back, give yourself a hug, move your head and shoulders, move as it feels good for you.

Right now, you may feel frozen by your experience. Your experience does not define you. You may want to run away. Run here. You might feel angry. You have every right in feeling that way. The effects of trauma affect everyone differently. Your experience could affect your ability to stay grounded and be present. Your mind might drift to deep levels of self-doubt — inviting the effects of fear, which distance you from the support you deserve. You are surviving. You are not broken. You are not defected. This was not, and never will be, your fault. I believe you. It is sometimes challenging to connect and feel safe with others when you feel you are holding your trauma with you everywhere you go. You decide how and when to share your story, and you are not obligated to voice your experience without feeling affirmed in doing so. If you find that substances are helping in managing high levels of anxiety and distress, I am here to help you observe those patterns and develop new ways to cope.

Let's check in with your thoughts; this is not your fault, we believe you, you are loved, you are supported and you can feel safe again. The AVP team at Center on Halsted are here to provide compassionate support during your time of healing.

Once again, this was not, and never will be, your fault. I believe you. We believe you.

With care and regard,


Note: The Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted can be reached Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., via its resource line ( 773—871—2273 ) and email ( ). There are also walk-in hours on Monday-Friday at 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Trans healthcare, part I

Dear Editor:

Thank you for publishing Oliver Knight's account ( "Catholic bishops stopped my surgery because I'm transgender" 4/10/19 ) as yet another disturbing example of how homophobia and misogyny are the cornerstones of Catholic "healthcare" delivery by institutions such as Presence Health.

In addition to treating transgender and gender-diverse people like garbage, institutions such as Presence Health also prohibit the use of IVF techniques for those LGBTQ persons wishing to be parents. When it comes to denying reproductive healthcare, no one does a better job than Presence Health in treating women as second-class citizens by refusing to give rape victims access to emergency contraception following an assault, denying women access to prescription birth control, abortion care and tubal ligation. Medical treatment utilizing stem-cell research is prohibited and advance care directives are ignored.

Adding insult to injury is that all of this offensive and degrading treatment of women and LGBTQ people is perpetrated by an insulated clique of men, with no moral authority in the wake of unending cases of child sexual abuse, tethered to an institution that militantly excludes women and many others from any meaningful decision making, all the while supported by many of our local elected officials with OUR tax dollars. The time to put an end to it is now. As long as Presence and other institutions continue to discriminate in the delivery of healthcare dictated by Catholic bishops, they should not receive a penny of public support and should be held accountable by every legal means possible for violating our basic human rights.

Terry Cosgrove

President & CEO

Personal PAC


Trans healthcare, part II

Dear Editor:

At the Center for Gender Confirmation Surgery, located at Weiss Memorial Hospital, we congratulate Gov. J.B. Pritzker in recognizing the importance of providing medically necessary and life-saving care to a population in need. We applaud the governor for his support of the LGBTQI and gender-diverse communities. Illinois is now joining the states and countries that have acknowledged the importance of gender-confirming medical and surgical treatments.

Recognizing gender identities that differ from accepted societal norms or expectations is part of an appreciation of gender diversity across the globe. Gender dysphoria is a medical diagnosis that refers to the distress caused by conflict between a person's gender identity and that person's sex assigned at birth; gender-diverse identities exist as an example of the rich variety present in our community. Such diversity should be celebrated.

Unfortunately, the healthcare needs of transgender and gender-diverse ( TGD ) individuals are often overlooked and/or neglected ( witnessed by the elevated rates of suicide and suicide attempts in the transgender and gender-diverse communities ). TGD individuals suffer discrimination on a daily basis, and this expanded healthcare coverage is a substantial step forward. Gender affirmation/confirmation surgery, previously termed sex reassignment surgery, is a medically necessary life changing treatment for many transgender and gender-diverse individuals.

According to recent population statistics, in the State of Illinois approximately 49,750 individuals identify as transgender and gender-diverse. Expanded healthcare coverage is life-altering news to the thousands of individuals who suffer due to a lack of access to healthcare. We, at The Center for Gender Confirmation Surgery at Weiss Hospital, are heartened that Illinois residents will have access to the healthcare they need.


Loren S. Schechter, MD, FACS, Director, The Center for Gender Confirmation Surgery, Weiss Memorial Hospital

Alexander Facque- surgical fellow at The Center for Gender Confirmation Surgery

Shalyn Vanderbloemen, PA-C

Mira Ebalo, PA-C

Rachael Johnson, PA-C

This article shared 2000 times since Wed Apr 24, 2019
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

VIEWS Mike Johnson: The smiling face of Christian tyranny
Mike Johnson wants to rewrite the constitution to make the United States a Christian nation. James Michael Johnson, Republican from Louisiana's Fourth District, is the 56th speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was ...

Gay News

VIEWS Parents, not legislators, should be making decisions about medical options for children
By Jeffery M. Leving - No matter the medical issue, when it comes to kids, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said something last December that every lawmaker in the country should realize when it comes to medical decisions for children. "Were House ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sundance items, Green Day, 'Wednesday,' Queerties, 'The Wiz'
At the Sundance Film Festival, Jodie Foster told Variety that the $1.4-billion success of Barbie helps confirm that Hollywood no longer views women directors as too much of a risk. She said, "With a big success ...

Gay News

VIEWS Is the Pope Catholic? Francis faces opposition in steps toward LGBTQ+ inclusivity
The recent change in Vatican policy allowing priests to bless same-gender couples has provoked an unprecedented backlash against Pope Francis and his openness to LGBTQ+ people—a backlash that some fear might devolve into a schism in ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dial M' director speaks about stage magic and perils of the closet
A good thriller is always in style for the right audience—but it's paying dividends for Northlight Theatre, which recently opened Dial M for Murder, helmed by queer director Georgette Verdin, to great reviews. ...

Gay News

Bring Chicago Home: Guess who's saying no again
Commentary by Bob Palmer and Mark Swartz - Chicago is ushering in an era of change with a new progressive mayor with a vision to invest in communities long ignored and a significant increase in like-minded city council members. We are excited to see ...

Gay News

Pope Francis's community of transwomen
It's a rare opportunity to meet the pope. It's even rarer if you're a transgender Catholic. However, on Nov. 19, in Torvaianica, Italy, a community of transwomen, many of them sex workers, were welcomed and seated ...

Gay News

Banning the Banning of Books: Illinois and California lead the way
In June, at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation banning book bans in Illinois public libraries. This legislation, initiated by Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, passed the Illinois House and ...

Gay News

OPINION Renewing state's Invest in Kids program is investing in anti-LGBTQ+ hate
In February 2020, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield warned transgender students in the Diocese's educational system that they "may be expelled from the school" if they live their lives authentically. Lansing Christian School ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Shucked,' Melissa Etheridge, 'Elite,' composer dies, Orville Peck
The Broadway production Shucked has set a closing date of Jan. 14, 2024 at the Nederlander Theatre, Playbill noted. At closing, the Tony-nominated musical will have played 28 previews and 327 regular performances. A North American ...

Gay News

Jann Wenner comments on women and Black musicians, later apologizes
Openly gay Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner apologized for telling The New York Times that, for his book The Masters, he chose interviews with white male musicians who he called the "philosophers of rock" because ...

Gay News

Gilbert Baker Foundation reacts to death of shop owner who flew the rainbow flag
--From a press release - In response to the murder of Laura Ann Carleton over flying the Rainbow flag in her shop in California, the Gilbert Baker Foundation released the statement below. Facebook refused to post the statement as it did not " their standards." ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT U.S. higher education under siege; freedom of inquiry and speech at risk
The Covid pandemic threw a harsh spotlight on higher education in America, exposing forces eating away at the foundations of college and university learning, calling into question the traditional purposes of such education in our post-modern, ...

Gay News

Guest essay by Florida mom Nicole Pejovich: What's Happening to Florida's Public Schools?
Related video below - A queer Florida parent answers questions about recent laws, how Floridians are coping, and how you can help Books pulled from school library shelves by the dozens. All evidence of inclusivity stripped from classrooms. The politically ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT For divorced parents, transgender children's health can present tricky dilemmas
Over the last few months, issues impacting individuals who identify as transgender and non-binary are getting a lot of attention in the media and among some politicians. Sadly, because it's become a political issue; a lot ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.