As we celebrate Transgender Awareness Week and reflect on those we have lost on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we are yet again reminded of the steps needed to be taken to ensure transgender and gender-nonconforming equality. We praise the landmark steps that have been taken by President-elect Biden by becoming the first President-elect to mention transgender individuals in a victory speech. However, without action and policy plans, this is barely a step in the right direction.
We hope to see President-elect Biden keep true to his promises of pushing the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. The Equality Act seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, as well as sexual orientation. This would prohibit discrimination in areas where HIV prevention and treatment would benefit, such as in housing and employment.
Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, especially transgender women of color, are continually being threatened or worse killed simply for being themselves. These violent killings have reached an all time high in 2020.
An estimated 14% of transgender women are living with HIV. Of those, a disproportionate number are transgender women of color. 44% of transgender women living with HIV are women of color, meaning that one in five of Black trans women are living with HIV. Many advocates have pointed to stigma, discrimination, social rejection and exclusion as a key factor for an increased risk for HIV.
In addition, executive measures that we hope to see made priorities for the first hundred days, include the repeal of Trump’s ban on trans service in the military, the reinstatement of regulatory protections on health care discrimination against trans people, and the reestablishment of the Department of Education’s Title IX protections in the educational contexts.
These and other measures that the administration can take without congressional action help improve the lives of transgender people, protect them from discrimination and, in the long run, ensure that they are at less risk for HIV.
AIDS United joins the rest of the LGBTQ community in welcoming the incoming White House LGBTQ liaison, Reggie Greer, and we look forward to working with him on these issues. We hope that President-elect Biden’s victory speech and statement on Transgender Day of Rememberance heralds a positive future on these and other policy issues that impact transgender people and by extension the most vulnerable and disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic.