TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

Black Trans Lives and Violence

This Sunday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which serves as a day of memorialization for victims of transphobic violence. 2016 has been on the deadliest years on record for the trans* community. This year alone, there have been 24 victims, three of which are from Ohio, making Ohio one of the states with the highest number of violent incidents against transgender individuals. This year we have lost Brandi Bledsoe (32, Cleveland), Rae’Lynne Thomas (28, Columbus) and Sky Mockabee (26, Cleveland).Their deaths are the direct result of transphobia, and racism, as all three are trans women of color. According to the National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs reported that, “Transgender people of color were 6 times more likely to experience physical violence from the police compared to White cisgender survivors and victims. The intersection of racism and transphobia can make these survivors and victims more vulnerable to violence and more likely to experience discrimination and violence from direct service providers and law enforcement.”

What can we do?

Delia Melody, a trans- activist wrote that “casual transphobia is the root of all transphobia…and we have all unintentionally contributed to an environment that carelessly ends trans lives without knowing any better.” As an agency that strives to be a safe space for all, now, more than ever we must advocate for one another and increase our cultural sensitivity, especially for those who are at an extreme risk for violence and hatred. We can be a safe space for trans* individuals and all LGBTQ community members by providing culturally competent care that includes understanding the multitude of factors that influence trans* and LGBTQ health, promoting social justice and reform, reflecting on our own cultural awareness, and continuously educating ourselves on what it means to be an ally and resource for this community.

Written by Shae Ward

What is PrEP and Why Should I Consider It? (Guest Blogger, Zach Reau)

Many of you have probably heard about this new thing called “PrEP” but might not know much about it. There’s a ton of information out there, but knowing what is right and which sources to trust can be tricky. So let’s break it down.
PrEP stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis”, which is basically just medical language for “taking something to prevent something else from happening.” Sunblock, vaccines like Gardasil for HPV (GET THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T!), and birth control are all forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis. When we talk about PrEP, though, we’re talking about PrEP for HIV.
PrEP for HIV is where HIV-negative people take medication to reduce their risk of getting HIV. And it works. If you take it every day, it’s between 92-99% effective, and it’s even more effective when you combine it with condoms and other prevention strategies. PrEP WORKS. Unlike condoms, it even works if you miss a dose. It’s that good.

Anyone who ever has sex without a condom should consider PrEP. It’s not just for gay dudes. Some other folks that should consider PrEP: people who have partner who is HIV positive, people who inject drugs, people who sell sex for money or other things, people who live in areas or communities that have high rates of HIV (the South, Black or Latino men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, Black and Latino women)…basically, check out your risk for HIV and make the choice that’s best for you.
Some things to know about PrEP:
• Any doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe PrEP, but you have to go back to see them every three months, so choose one you like. Many AIDS Service Organizations and LGBTQ health clinics offer PrEP.
• To get PrEP, you have to test negative for HIV. You get tested every three months, because if you aren’t taking the meds and you get HIV, you need to get help as soon as possible. PrEP isn’t enough to treat HIV, only prevent it.
• PrEP does not protect against other STIs like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, or Chlamydia. That’s one reason why you should still consider wearing condoms. Regardless of your risk, you should still get tested for STIs regularly (like when you go in to see your doc for your next PrEP prescription).
• Some people get an upset stomach, headache or diarrhea for the first couple days/week that they start it. It’s a powerful medicine, so your body needs to get used to it.

How to pay for PrEP:
Paying for PrEP is actually pretty easy. It’s covered under most insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare plans. If you don’t have any of those, AIDS Resource Center can get you enrolled. If you can’t enroll or don’t want to, that’s okay too; there are assistance programs for people with and without insurance coverage. No matter what your situation, paying for PrEP should not be the reason you don’t choose to take it. Check out ohioprep.org for those resources.

What else?
There’s also something called PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is medication that can prevent HIV infection after you’ve been exposed to it. So if you’re not on PrEP yet, and you have sex without a condom or think you might have come into contact with HIV some other way, there’s a morning-after pill for HIV. It only works within 72 hours of when you met the virus, though, so act quickly and call ARC Ohio, your doctor, or an emergency room as soon as possible.

If you want more information on PrEP, you can check out ohioprep.org or email prep@arcohio.org. There’s a list of doctors and nurses prescribing PrEP and a bunch of other good stuff to teach you more about PrEP/PEP.

This is HUGE. Talk to your friends about it.

 

~Zach Reau is Community Engagement Manager at ARC Ohio.  He travels throughout Ohio increasing awareness of PrEP.  Zach has over 5 years’ experience working on social justice issues.  Any questions concerning this blog should be addressed to prep@arcohio.org.

My Journey to Mpowerment

I was asked to write about how it feels to be in a leadership role and to be able to assist my fellow peers in Columbus. I can say it feels surreal; I have to step up and speak out for the young men that may not feel as if they have a voice. Working in prevention has made me realize the lack of support we as young black gay men feel we have. I want to be able to break those barriers and give back to my brothers that are fighting their way to become PROUD gay individuals.

My childhood may not have been the best, but one thing I can speak on for sure is the strength my mother and grandfather gave me growing up. I was always taught to speak my mind no matter who it may affect. Growing up, it may have gotten me in trouble. However, as a 26 year old man living in a community where most people are outspoken, it serves as a trait of confidence and skill that I can use to advocate for others.

As the Mpowerment Coordinator for GCMC, I can aid the next generation of men of color to empower them to love themselves and be proud of who they’ve become. This position gives me a lot of responsibility to mentor young men who may not have families or friends that support them. I can say with confidence I take my position seriously and to heart because of the past I had coming out and the trials I went through as a young man.

I am doing something to push our fight to the next level, but I can’t do it alone. I need everyone to look themselves in the mirror and ask “am I doing enough?” or “can I do more?” We all have a part to play.
You never know where you may end up in life. You can do anything you put your mind to. Believe in yourself and step outside of life’s box. Never let anyone tell you that you’re not capable of achieving your dreams. Stand up, speak out and live your life for you and your younger brothers!
#MrMpowerment OUT!