A former wellness center in South Shore where Brave Space Alliance plans to relocate its programs. Credit: Provided

SOUTH SHORE — A Black- and trans-led community center is expanding its South Side presence this year, as it plans to open both a new hub for its programs and a shelter for trans women and femmes in South Shore.

Brave Space Alliance is moving all of its programs — including a gender-affirming makeup room, a media lab, a computer lab, event space and more — from its Hyde Park headquarters to 7141 S. Jeffery Blvd., founder and CEO LaSaia Wade said.

The South Shore center will be “a fully ran programmatic office in the midst of a Black mecca,” Wade said.

The organization purchased the building last month and is pushing “as hard as we can to make sure it’s open before the winter time,” with the goal of opening in November, she said.

Within the next year or two, Brave Space Alliance intends to open a doctor’s office in the new center.

South Siders have voiced a need for medical providers who center Black bodies, and they’ve said they need easier access to gender and sexuality-affirming health care, Wade said.

“We do know that trains or buses can be very violent for people to travel all the way up north to get the resources that they need,” she said.

Brave Space Alliance’s headquarters at 1515 E. 52nd Place will become an administrative building, though its community pantry will remain in place.

The organization also purchased a South Shore apartment building near 79th Street and Saginaw Avenue last month. The property will be used as a shelter for up to 26 trans people who identify as women and femmes, Wade said.

The shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be “hopefully up and running by December,” Wade said. It will be “fully furnished, with a computer lab at the bottom of building as well as a laundry area. There will [also] be an office for one of our workers.”

South Shore offers a central location that’s already home to queer- and trans-friendly nightlife like Jeffery Pub and Club Escape, Wade said.

Brave Space Alliance’s programs will create “a whole new level of security” for LGBTQ+ residents in the neighborhood and beyond, she said.

“If we’re talking about liberation and we’re talking about bringing resources back into community, that’s what it looks like,” Wade said.

Brave Space Alliance is fundraising for its expansion efforts. To donate to the organization, click here.

LaSaia Wade, founder and executive director of Brave Space Alliance. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

As Brave Space Alliance expands its South Side presence, the organization is scaling back its plans for a regional survey of trans people due to a lack of funding, organizers said.

A trans-led team of researchers announced the Chicago-Area Trans Survey last summer, intending to learn more about the demographics, experiences and needs of thousands of trans people in Cook County.

Though researchers initially set a goal of hearing from 30,000 trans Cook County residents by September, that seems unlikely with only five percent of the survey’s funding secured, associate executive director Stephanie Skora said.

“We approached a lot of national-level funders, trying to get resources to do this survey as intended,” Skora said. “People aren’t really interested in doing funding for this kind of close research on demographic work in blue states, which we found very frustrating.”

Brave Space Alliance will work with existing funders to complete a smaller survey sometime this year. The survey can hopefully be a “springboard” to reaching the initial goal of 30,000 people, Skora said.

More details on the scaled-back survey are expected in the next month or two, Skora said.

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