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Health Risks at the Intersections: Transgender People of Color and HIV

July 18, 2012

By Jack Harrison, Task Force Policy Analyst

In anticipation of the International AIDS Conference, which begins Sunday, we at the Task Force Policy Institute have been reviewing the statistics we collected on transgender and gender non-conforming people and HIV through the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

There’s a lot to be startled by about the statistic alone that trans and gender non-conforming people are HIV-positive at four times the rate of the general population, but what’s most alarming is how much higher the rates are for transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. Among the findings:

U.S. general population – .60%

White transgender and gender non-conforming people – .78%

Transgender and gender non-conforming people of all races – 2.64%

Multiracial transgender and gender non-conforming people – 3.52%

Asian American and Pacific Islander transgender and gender non-conforming people – 3.70%

American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender and gender non-conforming people – 7.04%

Latino and Latina transgender and gender non-conforming people – 10.92%

Black transgender and gender non-conforming people – 24.90%

The highest of these is easily one of the most startling statistics we found in collecting this data. I’ve presented our findings hundreds of times and it never fails to shock me when I think about one in four black trans and gender non-conforming people being HIV positive. What it shows, however, is the way that racism so powerfully amplifies the effects of anti-transgender bias.

This is why the Task Force and our Policy Institute hold racial justice as central to our work for LGBT liberation. For those of us who are LGBT people of color, simply attending to the laws and structures of exclusion that are strictly related to sexual orientation and gender identity could never adequately address our needs and the same could be said for strategies around preventing or living with HIV that don’t take into account our many identities.

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