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Remembering Cecilia Gentili

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved member of our Apicha Community Health Center (CHC) family. An advocate, actress, and author, Cecilia's multifaceted talents left an indelible mark on our hearts and in the lives of those she touched. 

Originally from Argentina, Cecilia came to the United States seeking safety and a better life as a transgender woman, living in the country undocumented for a decade. Her lived experiences during this tumultuous chapter in her life fueled her future advocacy and unwavering passion to ensure that all individuals living on the margins are treated with the dignity and respect they rightfully deserve in all spaces. 

From 2012 to 2016, Cecilia played a pivotal and dynamic role at Apicha Community Health Center, where she dedicated herself wholeheartedly to developing our Transgender Health Program. Under her visionary guidance and tireless advocacy, the program experienced an extraordinary transformation, expanding from serving a mere 27 patients in 2012 to welcoming over 500 individuals in 2016. Cecilia was not content with just numerical growth; she fervently believed that transgender people, regardless of their gender identity, should receive comprehensive, gender-affirming care in an environment where their lives and struggles were fully understood and deeply respected. Her presence was felt everywhere, as she tirelessly championed the cause, ensuring that transmen and genderqueer individuals received the care they deserved, alongside transwomen. Her commitment to inclusivity and accessibility was a driving force behind the program's remarkable success. 

Our CEO at Apicha CHC fondly remembers learning and mentoring sessions over many lunches and some outreach and educational trips in the community, a testament to the lasting impact of her presence. 

Deeply affected by institutional discrimination and the widespread lack of access she witnessed; Cecilia made the courageous decision to move from direct services to policy work at GMHC from 2016 to 2019. There, she served as the Managing Director of Policy and was a fierce advocate for the passage of the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), tirelessly fighting for the rights of undocumented immigrants, sex workers, the LGBTQ+ community, and people living with HIV/AIDS. 

Cecilia's passion as an advocate was matched by her talent. As an actress, she dazzled audiences with her one-woman show, "The Knife Cuts Both Ways." She also graced our screens as Ms. Orlando in "Pose," the groundbreaking FX drama that shed light on the experiences of trans women of color during the 1980s AIDS crisis in New York. Her debut book, "Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn't My Rapist," released in 2022, showcased her literary talents, while her autobiographical off-Broadway show, "Red Ink," in 2023, further solidified her status as a multifaceted artist. 

Cecilia's legacy at Apicha CHC is one of tireless advocacy, transformational leadership, and a deep commitment to ensuring equitable access to healthcare and rights for all. Her impact on our organization and the communities we serve will be felt for years to come. 

As we mourn the loss of this extraordinary advocate, we are reminded of her enduring dedication to the marginalized and her unrelenting fight for justice. Cecilia Gentili's memory will forever inspire us to carry on her vital work and create a world where everyone can live authentically, vivaciously, and with dignity.