Two new reports released this week (March 14) by the Transgender Law Center underscore the real challenges facing trans and gender non-conforming people living with HIV in the United States. The reports draw on the results of focus groups and an online survey about health care, housing, employment, violence and incarceration.

From the report:

The ongoing violence transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people face is a result of persistent dehumanization of TGNC people, and trans people living with HIV are at heightened risk, due to family rejection and rampant discrimination in housing, health care, education, and employment.

As a result, TGNC people, especially transgender women of color, find themselves cut out of the formal economy without access to safe, respectful health care, which in turn creates increased vulnerability to abuse from law enforcement and the judicial system.

One hundred fifty seven people filled out the survey; two-thirds  of them were people of color. The results underscore what many advocates already know to be true: Transgender women of color, especially Black trans women, are at particularly high risk of marginalization and economic challenges within the community of those living with HIV. The reports also found that trans people living in the South were more likely to be poor, uninsured and living in severe poverty.

HIV rates are just one example of these disparities. Twenty seven percent of trans women overall, and 50 percent of Black trans women are HIV positive. The unemployment rate for all transgender people is twice that of the general population, but four times as much for those of color. 

The reports also show that state services don’t go far enough to address the underlying issues facing trans people living with HIV. ‘One Miami [focus group] participant said, “The state thinks (HIV transmission) is solved by condoms, not by improving our lives or meeting our needs.”

Transgender Law Center launched Positively Trans as a project aimed to develop self-empowerment and advocacy by and for transgender people living with HIV. Alongside these reports, they’ve also released videos sharing the stories and experiences of the members of their advisory board, who are themselves trans people living with HIV. Both of the reports end with public policy recommendations aimed at addressing the root causes of the challenges facing transgender people living with HIV.