New Reports Highlight Inequities Faced by Transgender People Living with HIV

Transgender People

OAKLAND, Calif.—Transgender Law Center released two new reports today examining the experiences and disparities faced by transgender people living with HIV—primarily transgender women of color. The reports, Some Kind of Strength and See Us as People, delve deeper into issues first covered in the initial Positively Trans report in 2016, based on a first-of-its-kind survey of transgender people living with HIV from across the country.

“At a time when affordable health care and funding for HIV strategies is under attack, these findings paint a stark picture for what’s at stake—and remind us that transgender women of color, particularly those in the South, are already under-resourced and in crisis,” said Cecilia Chung, who runs Transgender Law Center’s Positively Trans program. “For too long, transgender people living with HIV went unacknowledged and uncounted in national and international prevention efforts. Through Positively Trans, we are taking back our stories and creating our own strategies for survival.”

To complement the reports, Transgender Law Center released several videos created by members of the Positively Trans National Advisory Board. Each video shares the story of a transgender person living with HIV, providing a more personal look at the people and experiences behind the data.

The reports reveal extreme disparities between transgender people living with HIV located in the Southeastern United States versus elsewhere in the country. While seven percent of non-Southern respondents lacked health insurance and 19 percent reported not being virally suppressed, a full 30 percent of Southern respondents reported being uninsured and 29 percent reported not being virally suppressed. Additionally, Southern respondents and transgender women of color experienced significantly higher levels of poverty, with data showing Southern respondents almost twice as likely to have incomes below $12,000 when compared to the full sample.

An alarming 41 percent of respondents reported having been incarcerated at some point in their lives, as the third report, See Us as People, details. Southern respondents in particular believed that they could not receive a fair hearing if accused of a crime, with 41 percent of Southern respondents saying they would not receive a fair hearing, compared to 16 percent of non-Southern respondents. Transgender women of color and low-income respondents also dealt with higher rates of harassment.

The research was conducted using both English and Spanish survey instruments, with 20 percent of surveys completed using the Spanish language instrument. More than 400 people attempted the survey, and the final analytical sample includes data from 157 complete responses. Responses came from 35 states and Puerto Rico, with a majority of responses coming from transgender people of color, and primarily transgender women of color.

Transgender Law Center launched Positively Trans in 2015 with the support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation as a response to the structural inequalities that drive the high rate of HIV/AIDS and poor health outcomes. By partnering with a National Advisory Board of community leaders, Positively Trans seeks to mobilize and promote resilience of transgender people most impacted by or living with HIV/AIDS, particularly transgender women of color, through research, policy advocacy, legal advocacy, and leadership strengthening.

Watch videos stories from Positively Trans here, and learn more about the project here.

Read this release online:

Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing justice for transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. Transgender Law Center envisions a future in which all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. 

[From a News Release]

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