It can be hard to follow what states are doing to attack (and sometimes protect) transgender people’s rights. Here are some stories from us and from around the web.
Ohio’s governor backs off his attempt to restrict gender-affirming care access for transgender adults and minors. (LGBTQ Nation)
West Virginia Republicans want to pass a “Women’s Bill of Rights” that contains no actual rights for women. Instead, the bill says that “equal” does not mean “same” or “identical” and bans trans people from using the correct bathroom. (AP)
A similar “Women’s Bill of Rights” bill made it out of committee in the Iowa legislature. (LGBTQ Nation)
Georgia Republicans introduced a “Women’s Bill of Rights” that would also end hate crimes protections for LGBTQ+ people in the state. (LGBTQ Nation)
Arizona Republicans have a bill to legally erase transgender people and ban trans women and girls from participating in school sports as their gender. (AZ Mirror)
Florida Democrats want the Biden administration to block the state’s new ban on transgender people correcting the gender markers on their ID. (LGBTQ Nation)
Virginia lawmakers voted to table all anti-transgender bills in their state, which included another “Women’s Bill of Rights,” a sports ban, and a bill to forcibly out transgender students to their parents. (Los Angeles Blade)
A transgender sports ban in Maryland was killed in committee. (Metro Weekly)
Tennessee Republican introduces a “detransitioner bill of rights.” (News Channel 9)
Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine warned of “medical refugees” being forced to travel from their home states to other states to get access to gender-affirming and reproductive health care. (Politico)
Kansas’s attorney general is telling public schools to out transgender students to their parents. (LGBTQ Nation)
A Colorado Democrat proposed a law that would require teachers to use their students’ correct names and pronouns. (LGBTQ Nation)
A bill to ban the Pride flag from Oklahoma state premises passed a committee vote. (KJHR)
Indiana launched an anti-LGBTQ+ tip line to combat “political ideology” in schools. Online activists flooded it with memes. (LGBTQ Nation)
Since he moved from Atlanta in 2012, Detroit native Kevin Heard has been devoted to one ambitious goal: creating opportunity for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs to succeed in the challenging business environment of Motor City.
“I didn’t see or was aware of a professional LGBTQ community. I wanted to cultivate that,” Heard told The Detroit News. “I saw a need for organizations that have a fiscal responsibility, voice for and advocate for LGBT-owned businesses. I also felt as though it’s really important to possibly and intentionally curate an LGBT business district within the city of Detroit, like all major metropolitan areas across the nation have.”
She faces off against Trump’s hand-picked election-denier, MAGA Republican Matthew DePerno.
So Heard founded the Detroit LGBT Regional Chamber of Commerce, which has distributed thousands of dollars to up-and-coming small businesses and entrepreneurs to pay for leases, buy equipment, and scale their dreams. Recent contracts for members include a Ford Motor Co. agreement and a pending contract with the NFL Draft when it comes to Detroit in April.
One chamber member is coffee house Eastside Roasterz, a passion project from Tiffany and Riss Dezort, who moved from Washington, D.C., where the LGBTQ+ population is three times higher than in Detroit.
It was a culture shock.
“When it comes to building a business with all of that in mind, that’s really what we went to Kevin for. ‘Hey, would you have a better understanding of queerness and business crossover and how to navigate that here in Michigan?” Riss Dezort said.
The Dezorts have earned over $35,000 in business grants from Michigan organizations, but the biggest boost came from the LGBT Chamber, which provided a 12-week accelerator program and mentorship in navigating the business environment in Detroit.
Members of the LGBT Chamber include Corktown Health, La Feria + Cata Vino, Welcome Home Yoga and Wellness, and the Dezort’s Eastside Roasterz, which supplies coffee for BasBlue, Sister Pie, and Next Chapter Books. The coffee spot also offers wholesale coffee purchases online and operates pop-up shops.
Heard offered, “I’m looking at this as an opportunity to bring more great, innovative young people who would like to stay and live in the state of Michigan. To be inclusive of that, to know that this is a space that people can start their families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity expression.”
“Discrimination is bad for business… we know this to be true,” out Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said recently at a town hall for the LGBT Chamber. “This is not wishful thinking… the more inclusive we are, the more we do to reach out to all communities, the better it is for business in our state.”
People want to live in a place “that will treat them equally and fairly, where they know that they won’t be discriminated against in all different areas of their life,” Nessel said.
But obstacles remain, Heard says.
“The barriers in which LGBT people get when it comes to businesses are the gatekeepers at traditional banks that are maybe homophobic, may have their unconscious biases in when looking at or actually meeting the candidate. They look great on paper, but they don’t like their lifestyle, and that has been honestly one of the biggest barriers.”
Part of the Chamber’s mission, Heard said, is showing LGBTQ+ people in spaces “other than just the typical bar-hopping, Pride parades.”
“We are in every industry, every level of an organization,” Heard said, “and we own more than bakery shops and bars.”
A pizza restaurant in upstate New York has agreed to pay a transgender former employee $25,000 and take other steps to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged the worker was subjected to invasive personal questions and told he wasn’t “a real man.”
Quinn Gambino, a trans man, was a cook at T.C. Wheelers Bar & Pizzeria in Tonawanda, which is near Buffalo. Beginning in January 2021, according to the suit, the owners repeatedly asked questions about his genitalia and transition procedures, such as “Does she have female parts?” They “also intentionally misgendered Gambino by using female pronouns (such as ‘she’ or ‘her’) and stood by as employees and customers did the same,” says an EEOC press release.
Managers and coworkers further told Gambino he wasn’t “a real man” or “a real guy” and even likened being trans to pedophilia, according to the EEOC. Gambino reported the harassment to management, but it continued, so he resigned after four months. The EEOC, a federal agency, filed the suit last March in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York after an initial attempt to reach a settlement failed.
Under the settlement reached last week, T.C. Wheelers, which has denied any wrongdoing, will pay Gambino $25,000 in back wages and compensatory damages. The restaurant also agreed to take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, such as requiring all owners, managers, and employees to undergo training on federal antidiscrimination laws, and it has hired an independent human resources monitor to investigate all employee complaints. The monitor will provide annual reports to the EEOC, which will look at the company’s business records when needed to ensure compliance.
“We appreciate T.C. Wheelers’ agreement to settle this lawsuit and make proactive changes, and we are proud to have obtained an effective resolution that compensates Gambino for what he endured and helps ensure that other transgender employees will be treated fairly in the future,” Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said in the press release.
“The EEOC considers protecting members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be an important enforcement priority,” added EEOC New York District Director Yaw Gyebi Jr. “We will continue to assure that transgender employees receive the full benefit of federal antidiscrimination laws in all industries.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans sex discrimination in employment. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The parent company of Facebook and Instagram is facing calls to improve the safety of LGBTQ people on its platforms in the Middle East and North Africa.
Human Rights Watch, Social Media Exchange (SMEX), INSM Foundation for Digital Rights, Helem in Lebanon and Damj Association in Tunisia have initiated the #SecureOurSocials campaign, which emphasizes the need for transparency from Meta.
Rasha Younes, acting LGBT rights deputy director at Human Rights Watch, urged Meta to be a global leader in making social media safe for everyone. The #SecureOurSocials campaign aims to engage Meta for increased transparency and accountability, urging the company to publish meaningful data on user safety investment, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.
LGBTQ people that Human Rights Watch interviewed reported severe real-life consequences; including job loss, family violence, forced relocations and mental health issues due to online targeting on Facebook and Instagram. The campaign calls on Meta to address harmful content, be more responsive to user complaints and enforce policies consistently.
The main goals of the #SecureOurSocials campaign include:
• Protecting the safety of users
• Addressing online targeting
• Consistent enforcement of policies
• Investment in user safety
• Human rights integration
“Governments and tech companies share the responsibility for protecting human rights, especially for LGBT individuals.”said Younes.
Despite previous engagements with Meta, concerns raised by Human Rights Watch said its concerns have not been adequately addressed.
The #SecureOurSocials campaign provides solutions for Meta to ensure the safety of LGBTQ users and urges the company to disclose its annual investment in user safety in the region. It also emphasizes the responsibility of social media companies to respect human rights with nondiscrimination and privacy policies and freedom of expression.
Mohamad Najem of SMEX outlined key recommendations directed at Meta, addressing the urgent need to safeguard user rights, particularly for the LGBTQ community.
Najem underscored the importance of including rights, nondiscrimination and privacy policies and freedom of expression in Meta’s policies. He called for measures to avoid infringing on human rights, systematic handling of issues and the identification and addressing of human rights impacts stemming from their services.
The recommendations further urged Meta to respect the right to freedom of expression, protect against unauthorized access to personal data and consider the specific experiences of discrimination and marginalization, particularly those faced by LGBTQ people in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Meta needs to ensure that it respects the rights of people, especially when it comes to unauthorized access to their personal data,” added Najem.
Najem highlighted Meta’s struggles with content moderation, pointing out overenforcement and underenforcement issues. The insufficient investment in human content moderators and heavy reliance on automation were identified as undermining Meta’s ability to effectively address content targeting LGBTQ individuals.
Meta’s role in mitigating human rights abuses against LGBTQ individuals on its platforms is highlighted, with the campaign demanding accountability and transparency in policy application. Governments in the Middle East and North Africa are also urged to respect and protect the rights of LGBTQ people, promoting non-discriminatory laws online and offline.
A Meta spokesperson has not responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment.
The U.S. syphilis epidemic isn’t abating, with the rate of infectious cases rising 9% in 2022, according to a new federal government report on sexually transmitted diseases in adults.
But there’s some unexpected good news: The rate of new gonorrhea cases fell for the first time in a decade.
It’s not clear why syphilis rose 9% while gonorrhea dropped 9%, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that it’s too soon to know whether a new downward trend is emerging for the latter.
They are most focused on syphilis, which is less common than gonorrhea or chlamydia but considered more dangerous. Total cases surpassed 207,000 in 2022, the highest count in the United States since 1950, according to data released Tuesday.
And while it continues to have a disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men, it is expanding in heterosexual men and women, and increasingly affecting newborns, too, CDC officials said.
Syphilis is a bacterial disease that can surface as painless genital sores but can ultimately lead to paralysis, hearing loss, dementia and even death if left untreated.
New syphilis infections plummeted in the U.S. starting in the 1940s when antibiotics became widely available and fell to their lowest by 1998.
About 59,000 of the 2022 cases involved the most infectious forms of syphilis. Of those, about a quarter were women and nearly a quarter were heterosexual men.
“I think its unknowingly being spread in the cisgender heterosexual population because we really aren’t testing for it. We really aren’t looking for it” in that population, said Dr. Philip Chan, who teaches at Brown University and is chief medical officer of Open Door Health, a health center for gay, lesbian and transgender patients in Providence, Rhode Island.
The report also shows rates of the most infectious types of syphilis rose not just across the country but also across different racial and ethnic groups, with American Indian and Alaska Native people having the highest rate. South Dakota outpaced any other state for the highest rate of infectious syphilis at 84 cases per 100,000 people — more than twice as high as the state with the second-highest rate, New Mexico.
South Dakota’s increase was driven by an outbreak in the Native American community, said Dr. Meghan O’Connell, chief public health officer at the Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board based in Rapid City, South Dakota. Nearly all of the cases were in heterosexual people, and O’Connell said that STD testing and treatment was already limited in isolated tribal communities and only got worse during the pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year convened a syphilis task force focused on stopping the spread of the STD, with an emphasis on places with the highest syphilis rates — South Dakota, 12 other states and the District of Columbia.
The report also looked at the more common STDs of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Chlamydia cases were relatively flat from 2021 to 2022, staying at a rate of about 495 per 100,000, though there were declines noted in men and especially women in their early 20s. For gonorrhea, the most pronounced decline was seen in women in their early 20s as well.
Experts say they’re not sure why gonorrhea rates declined. It happened in about 40 states, so whatever explains the decrease appears to have occurred across most of the country. STD testing was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials believe that’s the reason the chlamydia rate fell in 2020.
It’s possible that testing and diagnoses were still shaking out in 2022, said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
“We are encouraged by the magnitude of the decline,” Mermin said, though the gonorrhea rate is still higher now than it was pre-pandemic. “We need to examine what happened, and whether it’s going to continue to happen.”
The report, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is the latest piece of evidence demonstrating that restrictions on puberty blockers, hormones, and other care for transgender youth “deny children access to routine health care that has been shown to decrease dramatically high rates of suicide and depression.”
Yet conservative state legislators are unrelenting. More than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across the U.S. in 2023, and 80 were passed into law, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Just weeks into 2024, 285 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced. The majority of the bills target transgender minors, whether they be bans on gender-affirming health care, laws mandating that they use bathrooms and school facilities contrary to their gender identity, or policies forcefully outing them to their families.
Medical professionals say gender-affirming care has become more heavily scrutinized than other areas of medicine. To Dr. Carl Streed Jr., president of the U.S. Professional Association for Trans Health, this is not because of the actual science behind the treatment but instead due to “ideological” bias.
“The goalposts continue to be moved,” he said at the HRC 2024 State Legislative Press Briefing. “It’s one of those situations where I often will ask people if you can tell me honestly what evidence you need to consider changing your mind. And if they cannot do that, I definitely know they’re not thinking about the facts. They’re definitely thinking about this from an ideological perspective.”
The recent legislation wave is not just anti-science, added Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at HRC — it is also legally unsound. Regarding the bills that have been passed into law, one aspect she flagged was “how often our opponents have to cheat in order to win.”
“Some of the worst bills that passed last year passed after a circumvention of the usual process. So they passed because the rules were suspended, they passed in the last several hours or last hours of a [legislative] session, they passed after having cut off testimony contrary to the usual rules and public comment,” she explained.
Oakley attributes the sudden attention placed on transgender issues in legislatures, in part, to the culture war. Instead of leaving health care decisions to medical professionals, she said politicians have taken it upon themselves to “use transgender folks as a political wedge.”
“They do not really have any subject matter expertise at all,” she continued. “And in fact, when people are trying to offer subject matter expertise, [they are] absolutely rebuffed and rejected. These are folks who are doing what they’re doing because they perceive this to be their path to power.”
While the bans are hastily pushed through in many cases, they bring devastating consequences for the transgender residents of their states, young and older. As trans minors lose access to critical treatment, Streed said the restrictions also “continue to affect the science and affect our ability to continue to do research,” as they “get in the way of us being able to disseminate information effectively.”
If evidence is not enough to change their minds, what is?
Streed noted that “some of the easiest ways to combat misinformation is actually sharing narratives,” which data also supports. Severalstudies have shown that knowing a transgender person, whether in real life or in media, can increase support for transgender rights and decrease prejudice.
“We always like to say evidence changes minds, narratives change hearts,” Streed said, adding, “We need more people to feel comfortable, and we need to provide them protections and support in sharing their experiences around this.”
This rings true for Minna Zelch, a member of the leadership team at Trans Allies of Ohio, whose 19-year-old daughter is transgender. Zelch shared that after the state where her daughter was attending college passed anti-trans laws, she had to switch to a university in another state for her safety.
Many transgender people and their families have been forced to relocate in order to live unrestricted lives, and even the ability to move is a privilege not afforded to all. To be able to openly share one’s narrative is also a privilege, Zelch noted, which makes it all the more crucial to speak out if you can.
“As parents one thing we constantly tell our legislators is we are the first people to say there needs to be more research on this. We need more information, but these laws will make sure that never ever happens. And it’s very frustrating for for them to just to just dismiss it completely,” she said. “And so that’s why so many of us have chosen to risk our safety to tell our stories.”
The Advocate’s Christopher Wiggins contributed to this report.
The Church of England’s governing body will debate adopting fresh commitments on homosexuality and same-sex couples when it meets later this month, it said on Friday, acknowledging that there remained “profound disagreement” on the matter.
The Church of England — central to the Anglican Communion of 85 million believers across the world — does not allow same-sex marriage, standing by its teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
However, the centuries-old institution has been wrestling with ways to make people in the LGBTQ community feel more inclusive in its churches, and it has apologized for the “hostile and homophobic response” some had faced.
The Synod, which consists of bishops, clergy and lay members, last November narrowly voted to back special services to bless same-sex couples on a trial basis, although Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — spiritual leader of the Anglican church — abstained from that vote.
“Synod has set a clear direction for us to move forward, but there remains profound disagreement across the Church,” Martyn Snow, the Bishop of Leicester, said in a statement ahead of the Synod meeting on Feb. 23-27 in London.
“As we move to implement what has been decided, we must also find ways to unify and reconcile these disagreements, mindful particularly of the narrow majorities in key votes,” said Snow, who has produced a paper on the new proposals.
The Synod is also due to discuss racial justice and the response of Church Commissioners — who manage the church’s 10.3-billion-pound investment portfolio — to its research into historic transatlantic slavery during the assembly.
In a tragic development during the “world’s biggest gay festival at sea,” a passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, chartered by Atlantis Events, unexpectedly died last week. Atlantis Events specializes in cruise vacations targeted at gay men. The death occurred during the Oasis Caribbean Cruise from January 21 to 28. The cruise originated and concluded in Miami.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines confirmed the death in a statement to The Advocate.
“I can confirm that we had a death onboard and that it was unexpected and not suspicious,” the spokesperson said.The details of the passenger’s death have not been publicly disclosed.
Details from a private Facebook group and private chat groups for those on the cruise shed some light on the incident.
Atlantis Events cruises feature large-scale circuit party-type dance events, among other entertainment offerings. Drug use at those events is common.
To all my gays on the Atlantis cruise please please be careful and look out for one another \ud83d\ude22— (@)
Unconfirmed reports suggest that there were at least five instances of an “alpha alpha alpha” alert issued during the voyage. Cruise ships typically use this code to signify that someone needs life-saving medical assistance. If accurate, the frequency of such alerts would suggest multiple medical emergencies during the cruise, although the nature and severity of these incidents remain unclear.
The Oasis of the Seas, known for its extensive amenities and entertainment options, was navigating with about 5,200 guests, according to Atlantis Events’ website. The itinerary included visits to several Caribbean destinations, offering a blend of parties, performances, and social activities.
An anonymous source aboard the ship spoke to The Advocate, highlighting that the death was isolated and also mentioned the spread of influenza A among passengers. The private Facebook group for the cruise revealed many passengers suffered from flu-like symptoms.
The source commended the onboard medical team of Atlantis Events for their professionalism.
Despite multiple requests for comment from Atlantis Events, the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office, and Rich Campbell, CEO of Atlantis Events, no further information has been provided.
It is not the first time that a passenger has died on an Atlantis Events chartered cruise.
In 2022, a passenger died on the same ship during another Atlantis Events chartered cruise.
In the 2022 case, The Advocate reported a death aboard the Oasis of the Seas during Atlantis Events’ 30th Anniversary Cruise. The death was confirmed by Atlantis Events, with a representative describing it as “nothing out of the ordinary” and directing further inquiries regarding the cause of death to Royal Caribbean.
In 2020, a 46-year-old Florida man died after jumping 10 stories from the Oasis of the Seas in Puerto Rico during an Atlantis charter.
In November, two people reportedly died while aboard an Atlantis cruise.
According to a November 2020 study in the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health, covering data from 2000 to 2019, 623 people died aboard cruise ships, with 89 percent being passengers and 11 percent crew members. The majority of these passenger deaths were among U.S. residents, and the leading causes included falls overboard or onto lower decks, suicide, murder, and terror attacks, unspecified natural causes, and cardiac incidents.
As part of Black History Month, February 7th marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day dedicated to addressing the disproportionate impact of the HIV epidemic on Black Americans amidst this month of reflection and acknowledgment of Black heritage and achievements.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed remarkable biomedical advances in HIV treatment and prevention, as well as in innovation in care delivery through telemedicine. However, despite these advancements, Black Americans and other non-white communities still experience higher rates of HIV and have less access to HIV testing and prevention medications compared to their white counterparts.
We already have the tools we need to end the spread of HIV
In 2021, the U.S. saw about 32,100 new HIV infections, marking a reduction of more than two-thirds since the peak of the epidemic in the 1980s and showcasing significant progress in combating HIV.
Preventive medications are 99% effective when taken as prescribed – options include a daily pill and long-acting injectables. HIV treatments can suppress the virus to undetectable levels, preventing HIV from sexual transmission when patients consistently follow their treatment plan.
The cost of HIV prevention medication and treatment has become more affordable due to the preventive care mandates in the Affordable Care Act, the safety net provided by the Ryan White Program for individuals living with HIV, and the availability of generic HIV prevention medication options.
Many telehealth providers (Nurx, FOLX, and Q Care Plus) have made HIV treatment and prevention care more accessible by addressing common barriers such as transportation and time constraints. The largest telehealth provider for PrEP, MISTR, even collaborates with local non-profits to ensure patients incur no out-of-pocket expenses for services like lab tests.
Under the leadership of Harold Phillips, the former Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the federal government released its “Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. by 2030″ initiative, which represents a concerted effort with funding to drastically reduce new HIV infections, with the goal of cutting new HIV cases by 75% by 2025 and 90% by 2030.
The disproportionate impact of HIV on Black communities
HIV Incidence: While Black Americans constitute 13% of the U.S. population, they account for 43% of new HIV diagnoses, 42% of people living with HIV, and 44% of HIV-related deaths. A Black MSM (man who has sex with men) has a 1 in 2 chance of acquiring HIV in their lifetime.
Black Women: The disparity is particularly pronounced among Black women, who represent 72% of women living with HIV today. One-fifth of new HIV infections in 2021 occurred in women, with over half of those new infections in Black women.
Black and Trans: The situation among Black transgender populations is alarming. A CDC report from 2021 revealed that 40% of transgender women in major U.S. cities have HIV. The prevalence is even higher among African American/Black transgender women, with nearly two-thirds being HIV positive.
Black Youth and HIV: In 2020, individuals aged 13 to 34 accounted for more than half of new HIV diagnoses. African American youth are particularly affected. Of the nearly 21,000 infections estimated to occur each year among African Americans, one-third are among young people aged 13 to 24. The rate of new infections among young Black males aged 13 to 24 is 11 times as high as that of young white males and four times as high as that of young Hispanic males.
Access to HIV Prevention Care: The issue of HIV prevention also reflects significant racial disparities. While 94% of White individuals who could benefit from PrEP have been prescribed it, the figures are strikingly low for Black and Hispanic/Latino populations, at just 13% and 24%, respectively.
These statistics highlight the critical need for comprehensive, targeted strategies that address both HIV prevention and treatment specifically tailored to meet the needs and challenges of Black communities, including Black women, Black youth, and Black transgender individuals.
Promising new technologies: generative AI
AI-driven chatbots can increase access to HIV-related information and support, particularly for those who may face barriers in traditional healthcare settings.
AI has the potential to enhance the efficiency and equity of HIV care but also to play a pivotal role in providing personalized care, educating populations, reducing stigma, mitigating medical mistrust, and ensuring that comprehensive health information and linkage to care are readily accessible to all, irrespective of their background or circumstances.
A new biannual shot to improve HIV prevention
Gilead Sciences is developing a groundbreaking 6-month injectable form of PrEP that is poised to revolutionize HIV prevention. This long-acting shot, administered only twice a year, could enhance adherence and convenience, significantly reducing barriers to consistent PrEP use. Adherence to daily PrEP medication for HIV prevention presents challenges, notably for individuals without an illness, to manage daily pill intake. Studies reveal that almost half of those prescribed PrEP discontinue it within a year. There’s optimism surrounding Gilead’s upcoming PrEP injection, expected in late 2025, which could significantly improve adherence by requiring attention only twice a year versus the current daily PrEP pills.
In honoring Black History Month, let’s reaffirm our commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities, leveraging technological innovations, and working towards a future where HIV does not disproportionately impact any community.
For inspiration on where to start and how to get involved, these Black-led organizations focus on HIV in Black communities: SisterLove (the first women’s HIV, sexual, and reproductive justice organization in the Southeast, founded by longtime HIV advocate Dázon Dixon Diallo), the Black AIDS Institute (founded by Phill Wilson in 1999, a prominent Black HIV/AIDS activist), and the Southern AIDS Coalition.
In addition, HIV.gov’s HIV Services Locator can help you find HIV services like testing, HIV care, PrEP, and much more.
Gabriella Palmeri, Healthvana Head of Partnerships
Healthvana is the leading technology company working to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. Since 2015, they’ve helped over 500,000 patients receive HIV/STI treatment/HIV prevention-related care. Healthvana’s customers include the largest national HIV care provider and the nation’s largest public health department.
A court in western Japan on Wednesday approved a transgender man’s request to have his gender changed in official records without undergoing sterilization surgery, the first known ruling of its kind since the country’s top court struck down a surgery requirement for such record changes.
The Okayama Family Court’s Tsuyama Branch said Tacaquito Usui, 50, could get the gender listed for him in his family registry updated to male. Usui original application for the revision was rejected five years ago.
“It’s like I’m standing at the start line of my new life,” he said during a televised news conference after Wednesday’s ruling came out. “I’m so excited.”
Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in October that a provision of a 20-year-old law that made the removal of reproductive organs a precondition for the legal recognition of gender changes was unconstitutional. The ruling, however, only applied to the sterilization provision and did not address the constitutionality of requiring other procedures.
The Okayama court found that the hormone therapy Usui received made him eligible for gender affirmation. Usui welcomed the recognition, saying he thinks the law in Japan might be evolving faster than the public awareness.
Many LGBTQ people in Japan still hide their sexual orientations and gender identities due to fear of discrimination at work and schools. The country remains the only Group of Seven member that does not allow same-sex marriages.
Activists have pressed for greater rights and protections. But change has come slowly in a country of conformity with a conservative government that sticks to traditional paternalistic values and is reluctant to accept gender, sexual and family diversity,
The law that the Supreme Court addressed in its ruling took effect in 2004. It stated that individuals who wanted to register a gender change needed to have reproductive organs, including testes or ovaries, removed. They also were required to have a body that “appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs” of their expressed gender.
More than 10,000 Japanese have since had their genders officially changed, according to court documents from another court case. A court in central Japan noted in last year’s case that sterilization surgery was not required in most of the approximately 50 European and central Asian countries that have laws that allow gender changes on official documents.