By Serena Sonoma GLAAD.org | March 31, 2022
On this International Transgender Day of Visibility, GLAAD is honoring the exemplary work of trans-led organizations fighting harmful legislation on the ground by providing care to those who need it most. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in harmful legislation and policies moving through states that are targeting trans youth and their access to life-saving gender-affirming care.
Addressing the direct harm such legislation will cause trans people is increasingly a matter of life and death, as 2021 was the deadliest year ever recorded for trans and gender non-conforming people. We must come together as a community now more than ever to overcome these challenges and fight for justice, safety and wellbeing for all trans people. Gender-affirming care significantly improves health outcomes, reduces stigma and increases wellbeing, and therefore must be accessible to all. Every major medical association supports gender-affirming care as safe and proven to save lives.
State legislative efforts to directly limit protections for the transgender community speak to a nationwide push to infringe upon LGBTQ+ rights. In the face of these threats, Gilead Sciences’ is standing with trans youth and their families and actively supporting trans-led and serving organizations as one of the largest funders in this space. On this Transgender Day of Visibility, we’re honoring the exemplary work of such organizations; take a look below to see who is fighting anti-trans legislation on the ground by providing care to those who need it most.
This February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to classify gender-affirming care for transgender youth as “child abuse” under existing state law. The directive, which was recently blocked by an appeals court, sparked public outcry from across the country. It also compounded the stigma already faced by trans youth and their families in the state, as last year, Texas had a record number of anti-trans bills introduced to the state’s House and Senate.
Spotlight: Fundación Latinoamericana De Acción Social Inc. (FLAS)
Since 1994, the Houston-based Fundación Latinoamericana De Acción Social (FLAS) has supported the Latino community living with HIV/AIDS by providing education, HIV/STI counseling and testing and treatment referrals. FLAS strives to reach the transgender community by hosting educational seminars and health fairs at civic organizations, churches and consulates. These events help connect FLAS with the community and teach cultural competency skills to the public.
“We have the opportunity and power to let society know that we are proud of who we are as human beings,” said Elia Chino, the Founder of FLAS. FLAS is excited to confront the anti-trans directive head-on by continuing to provide life-saving health services and gender-affirming care to the community and plans to establish a full-scale health clinic for the transgender community to connect the most vulnerable to welcoming and caring medical practitioners.
FLAS attends a meeting at Consulado General de México in Houston
(Photo provided by FLAS)
Spotlight: Muhlaysia Booker Foundation
Based in Dallas, the Muhlaysia Booker Foundation strives to inspire and nurture the community by providing housing, advocacy, emotional support, counseling, employment resources and training to transgender women. After the murder of her trans daughter, Stephanie Houston established the Foundation to reach and uplift people seeking life-saving support. The organization’s Transparency Trans-Parenting program is dedicated to trans parents and families working to learn more about their loved ones. “I am so proud of the parents and families who reach out to us for support as they learn how to understand and better care for their transgender child or loved one,” said Houston, the Executive Director and CEO of the Muhlaysia Booker Foundation. In the face of anti-trans legislation, the organization aims to continue advocating for and reaching trans youth and their families.
The Muhlaysia Booker Foundation hosts a Valentine’s Day Dinner for trans women and their families
(Photo provided by The Muhlaysia Booker Foundation)
LGBTQ+ advocates across the country have denounced Alabama’s S.B. 184 and H.B 266, bills that would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to Trans youth, force school personnel to “out” Trans youth to their parents and strip parents’ rights to make healthcare
decisions for their children with medical practitioners. Both bills are currently being examined by the state legislature.
Spotlight: The Knights and Orchids Society (TKO)
Based in Alabama, The Kings and Orchids Society (TKO) provides affirming STD/STI testing, reproductive care, and transgender non-conforming (TGNC) care throughout the state. TKO is actively expanding its reach across the entire U.S. Southeast, uplifting the power of community members and providing access to a variety of health and wellness services. TKO diligently monitors anti-Trans legislation moving through the Alabama legislature and alerts the public to advocate for those affected by potential bills. In February, TKO Executive Director Quentin Bell spoke at a public hearing against S.B. 184 and urged lawmakers to see transgender people, especially trans youth, as community members rather than targets.
The Kentucky legislature recently introduced several bills targeting the trans community, including H.B. 253 and S.B. 84 which would prevent trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy and transition procedures. Any physician providing gender- affirming care would be subject to disciplinary action. In addition, the state legislature recently passed a bill that would prevent trans girls from competing in girls’ sports. While Governor Beshear may veto the bill if passed, the state legislature could override the veto.
Spotlight: Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance (KAA)
The Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance aims to unite community members in Kentucky and Southern Indiana with providers and essential care services and treatment. KAA also focuses on expanding prevention initiatives to increase HIV awareness and testing. “We know that people are more likely to continue their HIV treatment if they have stability in other aspects of their life, like secure housing, access to quality health care, and food resources,” said Paige Hessel, the Executive Director of the Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance. “We are proud to provide essential health care resources and services, especially for the young people in our area who need it most.”
Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance provides program information at the University of Louisville
(Photo provided by the Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance)
The Florida state legislature recently passed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill which prevents discussions of gender identity, sexual orientation and other LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms. Despite public outcry by LGBTQ+ advocates, allies and elected officials including President Biden, the bill was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday.
Spotlight: Transinclusive Group
The South Florida-based Transinclusive Group partners with community members and providers to work towards ending racial disparities, stigma and discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. With a focus on serving trans and nonbinary individuals, particularly people of color, the organization provides a range of health and social services such as peer support groups, hormone replacement therapy linkage, in-home HIV testing and career development. Transinclusive Group recently joined a coalition of LGBTQ+ organizations from across Florida to rally against the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill.
“I’m worried that once this measure is enacted, it will contribute to an increased risk of suicide for TLGBQ+ youth,” said Tatiana Williams, Executive Director of Transinclusive Group. “It’s especially going to make students of color feel less supported. This bill is a form of erasure – it forces young people into a place of isolation.”