Shelter Wanted: Homeless San Antonians share their experiences

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Chanel Valentine, 23 - Josh Huskin
Josh Huskin
Chanel Valentine, 23

Chanel Valentine, 23

[Photos: Shelter Wanted: Portraits of San Antonio’s Homeless]

Born a boy in Laredo, Valentine says she identified as a female at a young age. Growing up, though, she says her typically South Texas traditional and religious parents didn't approve of her "lifestyle."

Now a transgender woman, Valentine eventually felt forced to run away from home after her father threatened to kill her. She lived with her birth mother for a while before ending up on the streets of San Antonio, sleeping outside under the Interstate 35 bridge near Broadway and Jones Street.

According to a UCLA study, 40 percent of the country's 1.6 million homeless youngsters are LGBT like Valentine and her friend Tony Mack, with whom she spends her days. The two have tried to seek shelter at Haven for Hope, but Valentine says men have harassed her because of her gender identity.

"I've been stared at," she says. "I've turned around in the shower and men were physically grabbing themselves."

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