Queer Heroes NW 2021:
Katie Cox

Katie Cox (she/her) has worked quietly for years at The Equi Institute, a Transgender and Queer health clinic. In late 2019, Equi’s founder Dr. Angela Carter became ill and could no longer lead the clinic and by the beginning of 2020 it was clear that Equi would have to close and restructure.

Then the pandemic hit.

Katie, one of two remaining employees of Equi, recognized the potential for the Equi Institute in the LGBTQAI2S+ community. She engaged with the Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside (C3PO) Coalition, a newly forming group of organizations and individuals determined to support the most marginalized members of the houseless community. Katie worked with the coalition to develop three outdoor shelters based on the Dignity Village model. The Queer Affinity, BIPOC affinity and Old Town villages provide tiny homes, access to food, hygiene, showers and laundry.

Clearly seeing a need for the villages to have more comprehensive health support in the midst of a global pandemic, Katie worked with Angela Carter to develop a culturally specific community health worker program to serve the villages and implemented the program with a grant from the Oregon Health Authority. Equi’s team of community health workers and volunteer nurses help villagers access medical and mental health care, benefiting from the culture of support, kindness and cultural awareness that Katie has cultivated in the program.

 Katie was appointed as Executive Director of Equi in late 2020. The community health program has received continued support from the OHA and is now expanding to serve the larger queer and transgender community with resource connection and health advocacy.

Katie’s quiet resilience and fierce advocacy in the face of so much adversity for houseless queer and transgender community has saved lives and put countless individuals on a path to self-sufficiency. 


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