Jailynn-Joanna Henderson’s decision to live an authentic life, to finally be herself, cost her everything: her job, her family, her home. But it also put her on a path to becoming who she is today: an advocate for trans women of color, a YouTuber, a role model.
Jailynn had, as she says, hit rock bottom in 2018, when she found herself homeless as well as coping with devastating behavioral and health issues with nowhere to turn. She found Paradise shelter and then Comunilife’s West Farms Residence in 2019. Says Jailynn: “I felt accepted and embraced like I never thought I was ever going to feel. No one ever made me feel less than. No one ever made me feel like I did not belong. And that’s something that Comunilife should be very, very proud of.”
Having a home to call her own has allowed Jailynn to focus on her personal growth and move forward in her transition to become a more authentic version of herself. She created her own video series, To Whom It May Concern, which seeks to inspire and document the lives of trans women of color who have been impacted by violence. The series highlights her own transformative experience and offers advice and encouragement to others facing similar struggles and has more than 1,000 followers. She is also involved with the LGBT Community Center where she speaks on issues related to gender and gender identify. Last year, she was the keynote speaker for Wisconsin’s Transgender Day of Awareness where she introduced an episode from her video series.
Jay Gabor, West Farms Residence’s Program Director says: “I’ve really been able to witness Jailynn grow as an advocate, to get more involved with the LGBTQ community, speaking up for trans rights. She’s been on a very personal journey over the last few years and her journey can certainly help others.”
Clinical Supervisor, Dominick Crouchelli said simply, “We meet people in our profession that help us as much as we help them and personally getting to see her strength and her journey has been a blessing for me.”
Jailynn’s success echoes her message to others: “Anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. You have to know that there’s more coming. Your current situation is not where you’re going to end up. So just keep moving, and…the best is yet to come!”
For her resilience, growth, passion and advocacy we are delighted to honor Jailynn-Joanna Henderson as one of our Tenants of the Year.