USCA Takeaways: Transgender Issues Need Greater Visibility

Transgender persons and advocates reminded everyone in attendance at the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) Plenary Session and luncheon that “SILENCE EQUALS DEATH.”  Activists challenged a medical provider who had updated participants on progress in advancing care and treatment for persons living with HIV for the lack of data and inclusion of transgender people.

Amida Care at USCA convention

While several sessions at the USCA highlighted transgender issues, including how workplaces can be more inclusive of transgender employees, how health insurance can better support transgender members, the need to employ more transgender individuals, and safer sex practices, transgender issues still need greater visibility and voice in order to end the AIDS epidemic. One transgender woman from Ohio stated, “If you don’t count us, that’s trans-phobia.” Octavia, a well-known advocate, reminded everyone about what really counts to her and other people of transgender experience: “People don’t care how much you know, until we know how much you care.”  While one activist expressed appreciation for funding that made it possible for transgender people to attend the USCA conference, she then very poignantly challenged every HIV/AIDS organization in the room to “Start employing us.  You need us to end this epidemic.” Each transgender activist spoke passionately about the pain and harm that comes from unacknowledged privilege, whether that’s based upon gender, sexuality, race, or economic status.

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