Trans activists rally against city’s HIV funding and lack of security | Local News
Activists from the Brave Space Alliance and other transgender and queer organizations say Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is failing in their communities of color, along with BSA, the black-run LGBTQ community center in Hyde Park , complaining that they had not received funds from a city contract they were awarded last year.
Stephanie Skora, associate executive director of BSA, said the nonprofit, 1515 E. 52nd Place, received a $125,000-a-year grant last September from the Chicago Department of Public Health to fight the spread of HIV, especially among black trans women.
She said the grant had three-year renewal potential and was due to begin in January. According to her, the city said there was a delay in the contract and that it was looking for an evaluator – a third party who analyzes the impact of the grant – but that there had been no progress or communication since. February.
She compared the grant money that has yet to be received with the $275,000 a year the Howard Brown Health Clinical Network has received from the city since 2018. The organization’s executive director, LaSaia Wade, is a black trans woman.
“This is an HIV prevention grant program for black trans women!” Skora said via email.
A CDPH spokesperson said the grant award letter was sent in December and the contract will be completed “soon”. They also said there was no delay in finding an assessor and that the department “has been in contact with the delegated agencies regarding this grant and that includes providing updates on the process. procurement”.
The most recent CRPD LGBT Community Action Plan dates back to March 2012, 10 years ago, before the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois, the rollout of the HIV PrEP regimen, and the profound shifts in LGBTQ culture and sexuality due to the widespread adoption of smartphones.
“We have people in this town who don’t care, but we have people in power who are stopping them from doing a good job,” Skora said at a March 31 rally at the Daley Center. “We have organizations in this city doing social work like Brave Space Alliance, the first black-run, trans-run organization in this city, the South Side LGBTQ Center, doing the work the city should have been doing. decades ago We feed people, thousands of people, because this city cannot invest in its own (expletive) infrastructure for black and brown people in this city who live in food deserts.
“We need to pinch and scratch and get private funding, because our city won’t throw a bone at us to feed its own people.”
(As previously stated, BSA manages the distribution of food to crisis pantries from its Hyde Park headquarters to sites across the city as well as a door-to-door food delivery service. He is also starting a housing program for trans women of color.)
In a later interview, Skora acknowledged an economic case for Howard Brown, with his clinics and offices scattered across the city, to get the grant, but she also argued that this logic discriminated against smaller community organizations.
HIV transmission rates drop in Chicago: 652 in 2019, down 14% from 2018 and 29% from 2015, the lowest since 1988. Declines were recorded for all genders, age groups, and racial and ethnic groups.
That said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have valued that up to 39.5% of American trans women are HIV positive. While demographic data on transgender people is notoriously difficult to collect, 2019, 19 trans people in Chicago were newly infected with HIV; 17 of them were trans women, 15 of them were black and 10 were in their twenties.
In 2019, at least 349 trans Chicagoans were known to have HIV, representing 1.8% of known HIV-positive Chicagoans; 86.8% of them are trans women and 60.5% of them are black. And from 2015 to 2019, the number of new HIV diagnoses in this population has remained relatively stable: 24 in 2015 and 22 in 2019. Between about five and eight trans Hyde Parkers are HIV-positive, as are about three or four trans residents of Woodlawn and between 16 and 29 trans residents of the South Shore, according to CDPH data.
“If the city keeps giving dollars for HIV and hasn’t been able to stem the tide of increasing numbers of people living with HIV in black trans communities, it’s still banging its head against a brick wall,” Skora said.
“The problem we have is that by denying small organizations the opportunity to receive these funds – whether for economic reasons or not – prevents the communities the grant is intended to serve from implementing our own solutions and doing what we know works and works best,” she said.
Skora said the city should spend money on as many different organizations as possible that come up with new approaches to solving the problem.
The community cries
Ab Weeks, organizing director with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation11211 S. St. Lawrence Ave., a multi-denominational community organization focused on liberation theology, complained while raising money the city spends on Government security detail of 71 Lightfoot officers “while they don’t spend a dollar on Chicago’s trans community.
“During the uprising, we saw violent arrests of gay activists by order of our own mayor,” they said. “In terms of using our own taxes, it lets us down.”
Trans Day of Remembrance is November 22. March 31, Trans Visibility Day is usually a day of celebration, but it came about this year following the deaths of two black transgender women: Sharpening stone “Tee Tee” by Tatianawho was beaten to death and found on March 18 in a rubbish bin in Chatham — no suspects have been identified — and activist Elise Malarywhose body was found by the lake in Evanston on March 19 after being missing for a week.
“When two black trans women are found dead in the Chicagoland area in the space of a week, there is nothing to celebrate,” said BSA communications director Jae Rice. “It may be a holiday for some, but for black trans people, for other trans people of color, this day is a ‘reminder’ day. It’s a day to remind black trans people that we don’t matter. for this city. It’s a day to remind black trans people that this state doesn’t care about us. It’s a day to remind black trans people that this country doesn’t care about us.”
Rice called for people to tithe their income to black trans people on a weekly basis, noting in particular the lower-than-average life expectancy of black trans women and disproportionate rates of incarceration. Skora encouraged donations to BSA, bravespacealliance.org/donate.
Since last March, at least four trans Chicagoans have been murdered.
Having more police on the streets wouldn’t prevent murders, said Weeks, who is also a student at Chicago Theological Seminary, 1407 E. 60th St., because they said the police don’t protect trans people. They objected to the city spending a large portion of its annual budget on the police department for services such as housing, food assistance, gender-affirming health care and employment assistance. And they said law enforcement and incarceration deeply harm trans people.
“Trans people are three times more likely to be victims of violence at the hands of the policethey said. “Not only are the cops not solving our murders: they are putting us in danger every time we interact with them.
Weeks also chastised the city for the results of a Chicago Public Schools Survey 2019 which found that LGBT students are 2.5 times more likely than non-LGBT students to report missing school because they feel unsafe or to have experienced sexual violence and three times more likely to having attempted suicide. Skora noted that Lightfoot’s campaign pledged to invest $25 million to reopen mental health clinics closed under his predecessor; they remain closed even though his administration has invested millions of dollars in third-party counseling centers and non-physical mental health services.
In 2020, the mayor published “Our city, our safety”, its violence prevention plan. He said his Office of Violence Reduction works to help victim services partners by increasing access to specific resources and supports for LGBTQ victims of community violence and building the capacity of partners to treat LGBTQ victims through trauma-informed training. A long-term initiative is to create a multilingual domestic violence public awareness campaign targeting, among other demographics, the LGBTQ community.
Skora said Lightfoot’s administration did not consult with any LGBTQ organizations or elected officials when drafting the plan.
“In the city with the most murders of trans women since the last Trans Visibility Day,” Skora said. “She ran on her identity. She ran on the so-called transparency. She claims to represent so many communities across this city, and she doesn’t even care to invite us to the table.”
“We don’t want more Lori. We don’t want more (Sheriff) Tom Dart. We want more resources for our community,” she said. “We want more resources for our community. We are working to get them from people who should have given them to us a long time ago.”
“We can’t support the life of an entire community on our backs, but we have to try every day anyway, because the city is failing us every day.”