Posts tagged with "LGBT Advocacy"

illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

HRC Launches In-Home HIV Testing Kit

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with Us Helping Us, launched the United States’ first national in-home HIV testing program centered around reaching communities disproportionately impacted by HIV—Black and Latinx gay, bisexual men and transgender women of color. Also, for the first time in its history, HRC will be providing a direct-to-door service to the LGBTQ+ community by pledging to administer a minimum of 5,000 free in-home testing kits for HIV over one year. 

In the lead up to Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on August 20, the in-home testing kits aim to empower people to learn their status and take control of their sexual health without having to visit a medical provider. Usually, HIV testing is done with a doctor, in a hospital, or at a community health clinic but due to lack of access to healthcare and HIV stigma, marginalized populations often do not receive testing.

“The continued prevalence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires innovative solutions—these in-home self-testing kits allow people to find out their result in the privacy of their own home, thereby reducing HIV stigma and fear,” said J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, Human Rights Campaign Director of HIV & Health Equity. “This expanded partnership with community-based organizations presents a unique opportunity for The Human Rights Campaign to leverage its extensive reach to propel access to life-saving HIV testing for multiply marginalized communities.”

Supported by Gilead Sciences, the home-service fits under the umbrella of My Body, My Health, a comprehensive public education campaign that works toward building a generation free of HIV/AIDS. In addition to disseminating the 5,000 testing kits, the program will provide a referral to PrEP providers in the person’s area, and link HIV positive individuals to care via navigation services. The kits will include an OraQuick oral swab, condoms, lubricants, and a test information card. HRC has also created educational resources to complement the test kits, such as an instructional test video and an online service page that shows local HIV prevention and treatment services.

Along with the HIV in-home test kits, HRC Foundation has launched a community campaign that targets regions across the country that are the most affected by HIV/AIDS—those communities are New Orleans, LA, Miami, FL, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, IN and Greenville, MS. This is a digital advocacy, public awareness campaign that seeks to educate and activate Black and Latinx communities through discussing the intersections of sexual health, race and queerness in order to break down long-lasting HIV stigma and fear.

“Us Helping Us, one of the oldest and largest HIV prevention, treatment and care agencies in the nation, is pleased to partner with HRC Foundation on this high-impact and critically important initiative to achieve the EHE targets,” said Dr. DeMarc Hickson, Us Helping Us Executive Director. “It is of equal importance to increase HIV testing in areas such as the Southeastern U.S., which has a long-standing history of oppression, white supremacy and HIV stigma. In addition, we envision a world free of stigma and where HIV testing is part of routine health care.”

Current data confirms that the availability of HIV self-tests in the United States would not only increase HIV awareness, but would also expand access to testing among communities who would not otherwise get an HIV test in traditional healthcare settings. Furthermore, it is recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare and once every three months for gay and bisexual men.

Marginalized populations, including LGBTQ people, face both societal and economic barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare and communities of color have been hit the hardest—1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 4 Latinx gay and bisexual cisgender men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. According to a recent CDC study in seven United States cities, 42 percent of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62 percent of Black transgender women and 35 percent of Latinx transgender women already living with HIV.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 600,000 clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The “Slate of Hate”

Anti-Trans Bills Moving in State Legislatures Across the Country, Explained

Many state legislatures across the country have embraced a discriminatory agenda as hundreds of bills that would weaken protections and rights for LGBTQ people—more than 100 of which vilify and marginalize transgender people, particularly trans youth—are moving through statehouses at an alarming rate. Despite widespread, overwhelming public opposition to the bills, a closer look reveals this onslaught of discriminatory legislation is being driven by a group of well-funded, national anti-LGBTQ organizations—including the Heritage Foundation, the Eagle Forum, and Alliance Defending Freedom, which is designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • These national organizations have launched a full-throated strategy to chip away and weaken LGBTQ rights and protections by fomenting clashes in the states—using state legislatures to spread misinformation about LGBTQ (particularly transgender) people, and fabricate a groundswell of  seemingly anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
  • Using state legislatures as the strategic vehicles to embrace and pass a flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the strategy is gaining ground — as discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ copycat bills are being pushed through state legislatures at an alarming rate.
  • This strategy, in many cases, seeks to vilify trans youth to undermine broader LGBTQ progress, and to reignite culture wars that most of the country has moved beyond.

Anti-LGBTQ Bills Seek to Vilify Trans Youth

So far, there are more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 106 directly target transgender people and 56 of those would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. The legislation moving in these states seek to vilify and marginalize transgender youth by denying them the fundamental opportunities to participate in youth sports activities and — more egregiously — deny them health care:

  • Denying health care for trans kids: The anti-transgender effort to target transgender youth by denying them medically necessary services and gender-affirming care have sprung up in 20 states. These bills are opposed by organizations dedicated to children’s health, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Social Workers, and more. Some of these bills moving through state legislatures include:
  • The Alabama House of Representatives passed SB 10, which would make it a felony for medical providers to provide age-appropriate, best practice, medically-necessary care.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB 1570 was overridden by the legislature.
  • The Tennessee state legislature is considering HB 578 (SB 657), which would classify providing gender-affirming care as child endangerment, triggering criminal, civil, and professional penalties.
  • Denying organized sports opportunities for trans youth: We’re seeing many extremely similar bills in states across the country that would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. These bills have been introduced in 30 states. We’ve already seen some of these bills signed into law, including:

Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to justify these bills, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. State athletic associations, as well as collegiate and professional sports organizations, have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason states need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Top Businesses, Athletes, Advocates Oppose Anti-Trans Hysteria  

These discriminatory bills—driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local stakeholders or public concern—will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender youth. Legislators pushing these bills forward are also ignoring the views of leading corporations, health and welfare organizations, and the majority of voters, all of whom oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation.

  • Earlier this month, nearly 70 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  •  The nation’s biggest advocates for women and girls spoke out in support of full and equal inclusion of transgender women and girls in sports, including the National Women’s Law Center, American Association of University Women, and the Women’s Sports Foundation, among many others.
  • This week, leaders of four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States — Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA, and Unilever — spoke out against anti-LGBTQ legislation and called for the swift passage of the Equality Act in the Senate.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation. At the height of March Madness, NCAA President Mark A. Emmert also spoke out against the slate of discriminatory, anti-transgender bills in state legislatures across the country and committed to hosting championship games in locations that provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters.