Today Positively Trans (T+) announced the results of their 2018 needs assessment of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people living with HIV in three locations in the U.S.: Detroit, Michigan, New Orleans, Louisiana, and South Florida. The cross-site report, titled Wellness for Our Communities, focused on barriers to health and well-being for TGNC people living with HIV and on their legal and health priorities.

“Transgender women of color living with HIV have always had to be our own advocates. The issues outlined in this report are questions of life and death for us, particularly as Trump works to undermine our access to health care with his attacks on the Health Care Rights Law of the Affordable Care Act,” said Transgender Law Center Director of Evaluation and Strategic Initiatives Cecilia Chung. “To fight back on these attacks, we must use data-driven advocacy led by the community for the community.”

The needs assessment happened with the support of Positively Trans advisory board members Bré Anne Rivera of Trans Sistas of Color Project in Detroit, Jada Cardona, along with Teah Smith, Jasmine Davis, and Milan Sherry in New Orleans, and Arianna Lint and the staff of Arianna’s Center in South Florida. A total of 155 people participated, with 67% of respondents identifying as African American and 27% identifying as Latinx. The majority of survey respondents identified as trans women (76%) and about 80% were age 44 or younger. U.S. citizens made up 84% of respondents. 

This data-driven and community-informed advocacy is vital as the Trump administration makes moves to drastically limit access to health care for LGBTQ people. A New Orleans participant underscored what’s at stake when trust and respect are not guaranteed when seeking medical care: “We are partners. You cannot do your job without me. You’re not doing me a favor. I should leave the clinic feeling like I played a part in my wellness and I also taught you something.”

Notable findings from Wellness for Our Communities include:

  • Nearly half of the respondents were unemployed and 72% have health insurance 
  • Over half of the respondents had experienced incarceration in their lifetime
  • The greatest legal need reported was related to employment discrimination (86%), closely followed by HIV-related discrimination (60%), and name change or identification document-related discrimination (54%)
  • 36% of respondents reported going 6 months or more without care for their HIV

From the needs assessment, among those who responded to questions on interpersonal violence and family rejection, 49% of respondents said they were harassed or threatened on the street in the last year alone, and 34% reported being attacked on the street in the last year. This grim statistic provides context on the crisis impacting trans women of color, and particularly Black trans women. As of July 2019, at least 12 Black trans women have been murdered in the United State. 


Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.