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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

Synthia Kennedy

Synthia Kennedy
Synthia Kennedy is a 23-year old activist, advocate, traveler, adult entertainer, and dreamer. She is a Youth Advisory Council Member for the Y2Y Shelter in Cambridge, MA and has spent most of the last 12 years advocating for expanded rights, services, and supports for youth experiencing homelessness and the LGBTQ community. Her motto is, "If I have felt scared and alone and in need of family and people to trust without fear of judgment -- then others have too."

Recent Posts

Paying Attention to Mental Health while Living on the Streets

Trigger Warning: Violence, Trauma

Being on the streets poses many challenges. Finding food, water, and shelter from the elements is always the top priority. But, the one thing that we (even street folks) forget about is mental health.

While I was on the streets, thinking about my mental health always felt like a tsunami. About seven years ago, I was living on Haight Street in San Francisco. I hung around Golden Gate Park, often sleeping somewhere in the thick of the park. I had been in San Francisco for about three months, had made some great friends, and was in the midst of living the California dream. I spent most of the day hanging out with friends, panhandling, and making music, arts, and crafts - just trying to have a good time. I had gotten in the habit of sleeping with my friends, but one night I didn’t have the energy to make it up yet another hill; if you don’t like hills don’t go to San Francisco without a car. I decided to sleep in Panhandle Park instead of walking all the way back to Golden Gate where my friends gathered. I woke up at 6:30 am, packed up my stuff, and took a quick inventory of my things. I had $20, so I raced to the local coffee place, grabbed breakfast for everyone, and went to Golden Gate.

Homeless on the Streets: A Transgender Person’s Experiences

Being on the streets can be tough, and being transgender can be difficult. But, being both transgender AND homeless is like being involved in a covert war that a lot of folks don’t even realize is going on.

Trans folks face a multitude of hurdles in life, but living on the street poses additional problems. Everyday tasks like shaving or washing can be daunting depending on where you are in the country. When I was hitchhiking, I would sometimes end up at a random truck stop where they did not have private bathrooms. I was at a point in my life where I had to shave my face everyday. If I didn’t, it could be dangerous – people would start to question if I was “really” a woman, and my ability to get a ride that was safe would be jeopardized. I had to get inventive.