Author, Trans Activist and Co-Founder, CK Life
Kim Watson-Benjamin (she/her/hers), is a mother, author of “The Modern Day Woman,” and woman of transgender experience who has been living with HIV for 30 years. She is the co-founder of Community Kinship Life (CK Life), an organization that provides services, resources, and support to transgender people. At age 23, after experiencing harassment in Barbados as an intersex woman, she migrated to New York City, hoping to escape the abuse and stigma. Two years after, as an undocumented immigrant, she experienced years of homelessness, engaged in survival sex-work, got involved in the West Village drag scene, overcame drug addiction, and ultimately dedicated 25+ years towards her work in trans advocacy. In 2015, Watson was featured in an article where she described facing deportation for being out of legal status, and how through active advocacy and representation, deportation proceedings were halted, and she is on track to obtaining legal permanent residence. Watson’s experience raised the issue that there are LGBTQ people from many Caribbean countries in the NYC area, predominantly Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx, who out of fear live in the shadows, oftentimes without access to health care, mental health care, and legal status.
Many live and suffer from a variety of mental health issues, and many are also living with HIV, which adds another layer of stigma, shame, and discrimination – another secret to hide from themselves and their families. This led to the formation of a planning team for a day-long symposium titled “Breaking Silences.”
Watson is one of four co-authors of “Healing Our Women for Transgender Women: Adaptation, Acceptability, and Pilot Testing” published in October 2015. She is the recipient of many awards, including (but not limited to): the 2012 Black Trans Advocacy Community Award, the Christine Jorgenson Award, the 2013 Outstanding Transgender Award from Unity Fellowship Church NYC, The Bronx LGBTQ Center 2014 Citation of Merit and a Proclamation, both presented by Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx Borough President; the 2014 Depressed Black Gay Men Recognition of Resilience Award, the 2015 LGBT CAUCUS Award presented by NY City Council Member Ritchie Torres (D-15th District, Bronx), & most recently, the 2016 Black Trans Women Inc. (BTAC) Black Trans Advocacy Woman Of The Year Award.