LIPS Tampa approach the health and rights crises faced by Trans people holistically using harm reduction, human rights principles, economic and social justice, along with a commitment to empowerment and pride in finding solutions within our own community.
The first issue we address is that of immediate need/crisis support for transgender sex workers, including community members from the Central Florida area. We do this by organizing a variety of weekly events to encourage community engagement and foster learning opportunities. We prioritize health and safety through the formation of partnerships and collaborations with other organizations in Central Florida that serve the needs of trans people and recognize the need for sex positive health care.
The next issue we address is health care and health resilience for Transgender people. Our community is hypermarginalized and has a profound need for safe sex supplies and free/low cost healthcare to address both trans specific and holistic needs.
We currently work on opening drop in centers and access to emergency housing with a path to more permanent aolutions since so many in our community are without stable housing, deepening the cycle of disenfranchisement, discrimination and stigma.
LIPS Tampa also advocates and educates to ensure the inclusion of Transgender people in our society when creating programs and policies that affect our lives, and to address the criminalization of trans people because of anti-prostitution/anti-sex work and outdated HIV laws.
Meet the Team
The Faces of Our Organization
Ashunte Deasia Coleman is a native of central Mississippi. She relocated to Tampa Florida in the early 90's. During a time when employment options were particularly limited for Black Trans people, Ashunte started working as a street based sex worker in order to support herself. Throughout those years, Ashunte experienced drug addiction and periods of incarceration. After returning home from a two and half year prison sentence, Ashunte struggled to find employment and housing. She eventually gained housing and worked as a banquet chef and later as a nursing assistant for over 15 years, where she focused on caring for the sick and elderly. In 2019 she relocated from Tampa from Atlanta and used her lived experience to begin advocating for the most marginalized people in society. As the co-founder of the Florida based organization LIPS Tampa, she has provided resources and guidance to sex workers and Black Trans Women. She has contributed to various projects that challenges the criminalization of sex workers and she is dedicated to sharing her skills to help others advocate for their rights.
Candy Clark is a 62-year-old Black Trans Woman who lives and was born in the Tampa Bay area. Currently the co-executive director of LIPS Tampa, she is intentional about sharing survival skills that benefit people in her community. She is compassionate about building strong bonds with the Black Trans Women she provides resources for and deeply understands the unique hardships impacting the Trans community. She is committed to working towards ending the struggles experienced by Trans people.