RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After noticing an increase in violence against the transgender community, one Richmond clinic is stepping in to help.

Jordin Cotman has worked with Health Brigade for the past two years as a transgender health services case manager and outreach advocate. Cotman said her experience in the transgender community led her to help others.

She created self-defense kits because she has often felt unsafe in certain settings, and said others who identify as transgender or nonbinary might feel the same way. The kits are available for anyone who may need them and cannot afford to purchase their own supplies.

The kit consists of a small black pouch of safety items such as alarms, whistles, and personal defense items. The idea for the self-defense kits came from SNAP-Co., a Transgender led non-profit in Atlanta, Ga. that distributes similar kits to clients upon request.

self defense kit
Health Brigade opened its doors to the Richmond community in 1970. Since then they have helped assist low-income families and others seeking medical care. Over the past 52 years, the clinic has expanded its services to include the first transgender health clinic in the state of Virginia. (Photo: Rolynn Wilson/ 8News)

According to the National Institutes of Health, transgender people are at risk for multiple types of violence. They found these acts to include hate crimes, which could possibly end in a homicide.

Malcolm P. McConnell III, a medical malpractice attorney for the law firm of Allen and Allen, donated on behalf of his firm to Health Brigade. He said the donation is to be used for a project that would directly impact communities most marginalized.

“The Allen Law Firm dedicates its entire practice to protecting and defending those who have been hurt or rendered unsafe through no fault of their own,” Mic McConnell said. “We have also dedicated ourselves to the safety and well-being of our community. We are proud to make this targeted donation to help TGNC people, just as we support the community at large.”

The kits cost about $25 to assemble but will be available for free to anyone who identifies as transgender or nonbinary and feels like they need one. Health Brigade plans to start handing out these kits around mid-September.

Health Brigade opened its doors to the Richmond community in 1970. Since then they have helped assist low-income families and others seeking medical care. Over the past 52 years, the clinic has expanded its services to include the first transgender health clinic in the state of Virginia.

Health Brigade began offering transgender support services including case management, comprehensive harm reduction and other medical and mental health care services in the 1990s, and has continued to advocate for the transgender community here in Central Virginia ever since.