Ensuring the Rights of Transgender People during Trans Week of Visibility & Action

“As a trans person of color, I am excited to work with this program and upcoming cohort of leaders, especially as we consider the overwhelming devastation many of these anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans policies have had on our communities. This program stands as a testament and commitment that transgender and nonbinary people deserve safety and equity, especially in HIV leadership, funding and programming.” – Gabriel Glissmeyer, Program Manager AIDS United

Each year at the end of March is Trans Week of Visibility & Action, a week to mobilize against legislative attacks on the transgender community leading up to March 31, Transgender Day of Visibility. This day, created by trans advocate Rachel Crandall in 2010, is intended to be a day to celebrate the lives of transgender community and acknowledge the violence and discrimination the transgender community faces. 

The rights of transgender and nonbinary individuals are integral to the work AIDS United does for the HIV community. In 2019, transgender people accounted for 2% (671) of the 36,801 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. and dependent areas. New HIV diagnoses increase drastically for transgender women, particularly for Black and Hispanic women. A 2019-2020 study found that 42% of transgender women interviewed had HIV, 62% of Black transgender women had HIV and 35% of Hispanic transgender women had HIV. While transgender women are included in HIV research, transgender men are often left out of HIV research and resources. Different forms of discrimination such as transphobia and racism can lead to delayed access to testing, care, or treatment for HIV. Ending the HIV epidemic is intrinsically tied to securing the rights of trans and nonbinary people as transgender women continue to be disproportionately impacted by the epidemic and are designated as a priority population in the fight to end the epidemic.   

2023 saw a new record high of 510 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced. States like Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee each have over 20 anti-LGBTQ state bills filed. Many of the bills introduced specifically targeted transgender and nonbinary individuals, limiting their access to gender-affirming care and banning transgender individuals from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity.  

Ensuring the rights of transgender and nonbinary individuals means making sure these discriminatory bills are defeated. In addition, we must ensure that transgender lives are prioritized and protected. According to the CDC’s National HIV Behavioral surveillance report, 54% of the transgender women surveyed experienced verbal abuse of harassment because of their gender identity or expression. The Chyna Gibson Stop the Transgender Murder Epidemic Act (H.R.4960).   would establish a Commission to address the epidemic of fatal violence, economic discrimination, and other factors that impact the transgender community, such as those outlined in the CDC’s report. 

As part of our efforts to support transgender and nonbinary leaders in responding to the HIV epidemic, AIDS United in 2017 launched the Transgender Leadership Initiative. Through the initiative, transgender and gender-nonconforming leaders of color received opportunities for personal and professional development, mentorship , and funding to implement their very own service-learning project to address an area of need in their own community. AIDS United is happy to announce that the applications for the next cohort of the Transgender Leadership Initiative will open April 3, 2024. 

For more information on Trans Week of Visibility & Action, click here