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Posted under: News

This Memphis Activist Is Building Tiny Homes For Trans Women Of Color

Gore and Wattshall have purchased a 30-acre plot of land to begin work on the first three homes.

Kayla Gore, an activist who noticed a prevalent issue while working at the LGBTQ+ community center in Memphis, is now building tiny homes for trans women of color.

Speaking with Forbes, Gore said there were a large number of transgender adults who came to the center looking for housing. Many of those looking for shelter also faced discrimination in the past and worried about their safety.

“They were asking about genitalia…They were concerned about the safety of the current residents at their facilities and not the safety of the person who actually needed shelter,” Gore told Forbes.

The activist and her friend, Illyahnna C. Wattshall, then began providing temporary housing for people in their own homes. Five years later, the two friends founded My Sistah’s House, an organization that provides emergency housing to transgender people in need. Since launching their program, the pair have welcomed people from various parts of the country.

“We’ve had folks come from Chicago, Texas, Arkansas, from the top of Tennessee and Florida, to come and seek shelter,” Gore said. “It’s a good feeling, but it’s also like, wow people have to travel so far just to be safe.”

Gore and Wattshall are now ramping up their efforts by building tiny homes. The duo, who raised more than $300,000 for the project through GoFundMe, have purchased a 30-acre plot of land to begin work on the first three homes. 

Looking at the issue of homelessness, which has been especially exasperated by the pandemic, the two activists decided that tiny homes would be the best solution.

“We were at max here, and were thinking, what’s a permanent solution to houselessness, and we thought about homeownership. The most feasible way to provide homeownership is tiny houses,” Gore, who is the organization’s executive director, said.

Gore, a Black transgender woman who previously experienced homeless, said there were other people who helped during her difficult time.

"Other people who were experiencing homelessness kind of showed me how to stay safe, because I'm a transgender woman, I'm Black," she told CBS News. "They taught me how to sleep on top of buildings, how to hide my clothes during the day."


According to the National Center of Transgender Equality, 1 in 5 trans people in the country faces discrimination while searching for a home. Additionally, more than 1 in 10 have been evicted due to their gender identity. The data also reveals that 1 in 5 trans people have experienced homelessness. Family rejection, discrimination and violence have been identified as the main factors leading to homelessness for transgender people. 

Gore is also serving as the lead plaintiff in a case against the Tennessee law that prohibits trans people from changing their gender marker on their birth certificate

“One of the most significant pieces of paper we have, we can’t change it on there,” she said. “And that’s a real concern for me as an advocate.”


As Blavity previously reported, President Joe Biden signed a presidential proclamation last month, declaring March 31 as Transgender Day Of Visibility. 

"Transgender rights are human rights — and I’m calling on every American to join me in uplifting the worth and dignity of transgender Americans. Together, we can stamp out discrimination and deliver on our nation’s promise of freedom and equality for all," Biden wrote on Twitter. 

Transgender rights are human rights — and I’m calling on every American to join me in uplifting the worth and dignity of transgender Americans. Together, we can stamp out discrimination and deliver on our nation’s promise of freedom and equality for all. #TransDayofVisibility

— President Biden (@POTUS) March 31, 2021
Biden expressed optimism about the growing acceptance he is seeing for trans people. He also noted the wave of backlash that is still persisting. That includes more than 10 states that recently considered bills banning trans teens from participating in sports. Additionally, the ACLU has documented dozens of other bills that would restrict, or allow organizations to restrict, trans people from access to services. 
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