Historic Pride Center Welcomes New Director and Celebrates International Transgender Day of Visibility
StarVista and the San Mateo County Pride Center welcome the Center’s newest Director, Francisco “Frankie” Sapp, to our vibrant and thriving community. Since opening its doors in 2017, the Pride Center has become a champion of support, education, and advocacy in San Mateo County.
“I am proud of the incredible work this team is doing every day to provide a safe space where all people can experience belonging and find hope,“ said Sara Mitchell, StarVista’s CEO, adding, “During this unprecedented, challenging time, we are finding new ways to connect and strengthen communities. We are assured to have Frankie leading this next chapter in the Center’s history.”
Frankie recently returned to the Bay Area after working in Canada where he served as the Co-Director of the Ontario Harm Reduction Network, providing trainings and resources to health and social service providers serving marginalized communities. He joins a team of six mental health clinicians and case managers specializing in LGBTQ+ issues, five staff, and 30 volunteers, and will oversee the Center’s core operations including individual, group, and family counseling, weekly peer support groups, and its popular annual events, including the Pride Celebration in June.
Frankie joins the Pride Center in time to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st; a day celebrating transgender people and their contributions to society, and raising awareness of the discrimination transgender people face around the world.
Why does trans visibility matter?
Many transgender youth and adults experience mental illness resulting from a lifetime of social rejection, fear, violence, and isolation. While LGB youth are nearly five times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth, rates among the trans community are even more troubling. According to a national study, around 40% of transgender adults report having made a suicide attempt, most before the age of 25. “The good news,” said Frankie, “is it only takes one caring and accepting person to save someone’s life. Community, intervention, and education make a big difference.”
Speaking of his experience as a trans person, Frankie explained, “For 15 years, I wished I was dead. I just knew I was different and different was wrong. When I finally came out as queer, and then trans, everyone accepted me; my parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, classmates, everyone! I’d hated myself while everyone around me loved me for who I was. That’s what I want for others, and for them to know that acceptance is possible.”
Just as communities across the country are reorienting toward a new, more virtual routine, the Pride Center is taking steps to make sure its community stays connected. ”Our peer support groups and volunteer program are moving online, and counseling and drop-in services are available by phone and web applications. We are the community we serve – queer, trans, nonbinary, POC, disabled, older, young, multiracial, bilingual, and everything in between – and we are here for you.“
At StarVista, we remain focused on community wellbeing and are taking decisive action given the unique challenges facing the people we serve. As an essential social service provider, our nearly 30 programs continue to operate. “We have effective, safe solutions in place to ensure we are reaching clients,” said Sara Mitchell, “Many of our neighbors are experiencing unemployment and mental health challenges right now, but helping people overcome life’s challenges is what we do best and is what we will continue to do.”
StarVista’s 24/7 shelter and crisis support services are open. Need support? Call Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Hotline (650) 579-0350 or (800) 273-8255 or Differential Response Resource Line (650) 489-2097.
- CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.