Founded in August 2007 by Kim Watson and Mister Cris, CK Life was designed to expand economic opportunities and build resilience for and with the transgender community in the South Bronx. Currently, Watson is its Executive Director and only full-time staff.
A signature outreach and engagement program has been the fundraiser galas that CK life has organized on an annual basis to benefit the CK Life Scholarship Fund, which resources individuals in covering expenses for gender-affirming medical procedures. The most recent gala took place in October 2019.
CK Life regularly attends trangender health-related spaces with professional organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and participates at the annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference.
Black trans women are often the pillars of their communities, yet they encounter many structural barriers to their livelihood. They face discrimination due to their race and gender expression, and these challenges block their access to paths for survival, such as free healthcare, affordable housing, laudable education, and meaningful employment. They also face higher incidence of domestic and family violence, and disproportionate food and shelter insecurity. CK Life provides a critical lifeline for Black trans women, designating a specific space for them and supporting them with a wide range of resources from shelter, food, and clothing, to help with legal name changes, health care navigation, and employment and education counseling.
Co-founder and Executive Director
Kim Watson moved to the United States from Barbados in 1985, when she was 23, hoping to escape the abuse and stigma she’d encountered as a young woman of trans experience. Two years later, homeless and engaging in sex work, she was diagnosed with HIV. Now 54 years old, Watson is a proud mother to her nine year-old daughter, living a full active life with HIV and is sharing her story about how she overcame stigma, found her voice, and established a community for herself and other people of trans experience.
Watson is the author of a memoir, A Modern Day Woman (2017); and has been widely recognized for her leadership through awards and honors by City and State officials such as Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Senator Jose Serrano, and Councilman Richie Torres. Watson has proven a formidable leader advocating for Black trans people reaching their full potential and overcoming obstacles, and has worked tirelessly to safeguard Black trans women’s access to tools that ensure their collective survival.
Before co-founding CK Life, Watson was a founding member of TransJustice, a political advocacy program created by and for trans and gender non-conforming people, housed at the Audre Lorde Project. Watson has also been a Board member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, an organization that offers pro-bono legal support to trans and gender non-conforming individuals. In June 2020, Watson was listed in Crain’s New York Business publication as one of its “Notable LGBTQ Leaders & Executives.”
Watson has been recognized by the following awards:
2015 LGBT Caucus Award (Councilman Richie Torres' office)
2015 Harlem Pride Legacy Award
Black Trans Women Inc(BTAC) Black Trans Advocacy Woman Of The Year 2016 Award
2016 LGBT Award
2017 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Award
2017 Black Trans Advocacy Conference Award