Tag Archives: HIV

Survey Finally Acknowledges Trans Youth

Here in DC, trans issues have been coming up in the media a lot lately. Metro TeenAIDS, a local HIV-prevention resource, distributed a survey to DCPS middle school students. A group of cisgender adults are now causing a fuss because this survey asked students whether they are trans.

First of all, thanks and congratulations to Metro TeenAIDS for doing what the city should have done a long time ago: acknowledging that trans youth exist. However, we are saddened that so many cisgender adults are unwilling to accept this reality.

In the wake of recent highly publicized LGBTQ youth suicides, it is depressing to see straight, cisgender adults who are in favor of maintaining a climate of ignorance. If we do not even acknowledge that trans youth exist, we will never be able to “make it better.”

Finally, shame on the media for sensationalizing this story. Although the survey contained many questions about student’s sexualities, drug use and other risk factors, parents and media have focused on the gender identity question. (Amanda Hess shares her thoughts on why over here.) There is nothing “graphic” about asking someone’s gender identity. But more importantly, regardless of squeamish parents, supporting trans youth should be our top priority.

DCTC Alarmed by Exclusion of Trans Communities in LGB Health Report

We recently discovered that the Mayor’s office released a report claiming to be about the health of the “GLBT community”, while failing to include trans people at all. Despite recognizing other differences such as race, age, ward and income, there is no data that breaks down the statistics by gender identity. Like the Mayor’s hate crimes report earlier this year, the report claims to include trans people but entirely ignores gay, lesbian and bisexual-identified trans folks, as well as trans people who are straight.

The continued invisiblization of our communities contributes to the widespread ignorance about trans people. Additionally, the lack of knowledge fuels existing health disparities revealed in other studies. If the city government is actually concerned about public health, it must prioritize the health needs of underserved trans communities in the District. In our letter to the Mayor (and copied to the Dept. of Health and the City Council), we state our belief that the government should firmly commit to including trans communities and allocate grant funding to help make a new trans needs assessment possible.

UPDATE: Check out this article over on MetroWeekly: “Missing Persons Report: Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs release first health report on gay residents, omits trans people.” We have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and the City Council. We will be submitting recommendations to improve data collection, but we have yet to hear a solid promise from the Mayor’s office that this will included in future surveys. See below for our full press release.

MORE UPDATES: Also follow the story at DCist and the CityPaper or click here to listen to the local NPR radio broadcast about the report.

Continue reading DCTC Alarmed by Exclusion of Trans Communities in LGB Health Report

From The Sexist: “D.C.’s Transgender Community Suffers from Lack of HIV Statistics”

Original article posted by Amanda Hess here: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/07/01/dcs-transgender-community-suffers-from-lack-of-hiv-statistics/

After this week’s post on the state of HIV in D.C., a commenter asked for some current statistics on the HIV/AIDS rate in the District’s transgender population. Good luck.  D.C.’s Department of Health doesn’t track cases based on gender identity in its annual report on the epidemic [PDF], though it does compile numbers on race, gender, Ward, and mode of transmission (ex. men who have sex with men). The CDC also fails to address gender identity [PDF] in its reports.

That’s a problem, especially considering that the latest local data available—the DOH-funded 2000 Transgender Needs Assessment Survey—reveals staggering infection rates among trans women. Here’s a rundown of that survey’s findings:

The decade-old report surveyed 252 District transgender men and women on a variety of factors, including their HIV status. Of locals surveyed, 32 percent of trans women reported being HIV-positive, compared to 3 percent of trans men. (Twenty-two percent of those surveyed were unaware of their status).

More info on how HIV affects the community: Eighty-one percent of the HIV-positive trans men and women surveyed were black. And two-thirds of HIV-positive trans citizens “believe they became infected through unprotected sex with men.” A “history of sexual assault, a history of sex work, and unemployment” also contributed to HIV rates in the community.

Also a contributing factor? The lack of public education and concern on how the epidemic affects the trans community. In 2008, Darby Hickey wrote of the invisibility of transgender people in the HIV conversation: “The communities hit hardest are African-American men and women, Lations, and gay and bisexual men of all races. Within these carefully drawn categories, some based on behavioral risk factor and others on racial, gender and sexual classifications, one community heavily affected by the epidemic remains invisible in the eyes of officialdom a quarter century since the first reports of the disease: transgender people.”

The failure of mainstream studies to single out trans men and women in its numbers compounds the problem of getting testing, prevention, and treatment resources to that community. “There are no official reports because most agencies do not recognize trans people’s existence at all,” says Sadie-Ryanne Baker of the DC Trans Coalition. “They usually fold trans women in the ‘men who have sex w/ men’ category (even ones like me who sleep with women!) which means we have no independent numbers to analyze for trans folks. It also means that most trans folks don’t even get tested or get safe sex supplies because all the forms force them to lie about their identity.”