Tag Archives: discrimination

HIV and Trans Women

Nearly a fifth of the world’s transgender women are infected with HIV. A recent analysis compiling the results of 39 studies involving 11,000 transgender women from 15 countries came to this startling conclusion. This number is 49 times higher than the general population, 36 times higher than males and 78 times higher than other females. For the study, transgender women were defined as individuals born as biological males who currently identified as female. Transgender women who engaged in sex work were also significantly more likely to be infected with HIV than male and other female sex workers.

So why are transgender women so much more likely to contract HIV? The authors of the report offered several reasons. They believe that many of the infections occurred through unprotected anal sex. Next to direct blood to blood contact through needle sharing, anal sex is the easiest route for transmission. Anal tissue is more easily torn during anal sex than through either vaginal or oral sex. If they have had a recent vaginoplasty/vaginal construction, they are also at greater risk of infection. Transgender women are more likely to be involved with sexual partners who are infected with HIV and engage in sex work.


The stigma, discrimination, and fear of judgement associated with being transgender are significant factors that lead to many women avoiding routine health screenings. And to make matters worse, few health care workers, HIV counselors, and physicians are trained in transgender women’s health care issues.

Hopefully, this study will help open doors to future strategies to help address this overlooked population. To read the entire article, click here.

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Restroom? Papers, Please!

We’re (sadly) all too familiar with the ways in which politicians want to insert themselves into medical issues when it comes to reproduction, but here in Florida, we’ve not got politicians wanting to wedge themselves into another inappropriate, private space – our bathrooms.

HB 583 and SB 1464 are bills that would make it a crime for someone to use a public restroom that doesn’t match their legal sex – punishable by a year in jail. And business owners who ‘allow’ that to happen would also be violating the new law, putting cafe managers and gas station attendants in the position of having to decide who looks like they ‘should’ be going into which bathroom. Anyone whose appearance doesn’t match up with cultural gender norms will be put in a difficult, and sometimes impossible situation if this law passes.

Why has this even come up? Rep. Fred Artiles, a state senator from Miami, has claimed that an ordinance passed in Miami-Dade County banning gender discrimination would open up the door to sexual predators infiltrating restrooms across the state. First off, this law is unnecessary – people can legally use either restroom now, and we haven’t run into these kinds of problems. Neither have any of the twenty-one states in the US that have passed similar antidiscrimination ordinances. And criminal acts are, well, still criminal, wherever they take place.

But the bills also fail to address the harassment that does take place in public restrooms – 70% of trans* people have been harassed, assaulted or denied entrance to a restroom when they’ve tried to use one. A new, needless law like this one doesn’t solve any existing problems, but it will absolutely create a whole slew of new ones.

If you’re interested in taking action, there are a number of groups across the state that are doing some good work on this issue. Locally, ALSO Youth has been organizing a number of responses, as has Equality Florida. You can also contact your state senator and representative directly – you can find their information here. (If you’re up for it, calls tend to have a much bigger impact than emails.)

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Title IX: What is It and What Does it Mean for Students?

At a Florida university in these past few weeks, a young man was arrested for raping two women and assaulting a third on campus. The school has recently turned over the case to the local police department but if the victims were to file charges through the school, they would have the option to do so through Title 9.

uniSo what is Title IX? In short, Title IX is part of the Education Amendments put forth in 1972 that states that no person is to be discriminated against based on sex in any program that is funded by the federal government. In terms of sexual assault cases, students have the right to file a complaint through their school or university whether the assailant was a staff member, faculty member, or another student. Students also have a right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education.

It is important to remember that one out of every three women has been or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and this is especially true for college age students. There have been stories of victims having their case swept under the rug or completely ignored so many schools are now revamping their Title XI programs in order to meet federal regulations.

It is extremely important to know your rights when it comes to being a victim of a sexual assault. There are resources out there that are willing to help in any way possible. Here are a few:

  • ACLU




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Sometimes, Well-Meaning Regulations Are Kind of Discriminatory

Sometimes, Well-Meaning Regulations Are Kind of DiscriminatoryWriting and helping to edit the Feronia Project over the last year-and-a-half has really opened my eyes to endemic discrimination as well as unintended discrminiation. I also recognize my privilege: I’m a well-educated, middle-class, white cis woman. So, while I see discrimination in society at large, I will admit, I don’t particularly see it in my day-to-day life.

And then I went to change my cell phone plan.

It’s simply a move to save money – I was on my parents’ plan for years, simply for ease of use, and wanted to move onto my fiancé’s plan so that we could combine our bills and save a few bucks. Now, an important point to bring up: as I am not the owner of either plan, I don’t have the obligation to pay the bill, according to my cell phone provider, AT&T.

So, my partner was at work; my mother was at her house; and I came armed with the last four digits of their social security numbers, account numbers, and all the information you need to get this done. They were both busy and I had the time – I didn’t want to bother them with what I thought was a relatively easy change.

How wrong was I.

Not only did I have to change my cell phone number – the closest thing one has to networking currency nowadays – but I had to get vocal permission from both my parents AND my fiancé to even get it done. (For the record: I am around 30 years old, have a full-time job, and enough discretionary income to afford a good cell phone plan.) You might imagine my rage: I was an authorized signatory on my parents’ plan, I’m in the process of merging my finances with my partner, and I wasn’t allowed to get this done? It felt a lot like a 1950s housewife who had to get permission to get a credit card from her husband.

As you might imagine, I got very vocally annoyed – and due to that, the change was put through relatively soon after I raised my voice.

Now, I understand why this is a regulation: fraud is a very real concern. But if AT&T thinks that some of my money won’t be going to pay that bill, they’re wrong. So, why do I have less rights than the person whose name is on the account? I’m on it, too! (And by the way, even though I will be an authorized signer on my partner’s account, I still can’t do things like add a line or you know, anything important like that.)

By the way, this would apply to anyone who isn’t the “owner” of the plan – man or woman. So, Feronians, what do you think? Is this discrimination? Would you be annoyed, too? Could AT&T come up with a better solution?

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The Boobie Beanie

#1: I love Etsy.  #2: I love this hat.  #3: This topic lights my fire. You’ve been warned.

If you’ve ever breast fed your baby in public, you know how people can’t help but stare, sometimes with a look of disgust that a mother DARE feed her hungry kid the best food that ever existed in a public place. I’ve been that mom before and I’ll be that mom again. To me, this hat says: F YOU, you judgmental, insecure, insensitive, nosy a-hole! Don’t want to see my boob? Well here, now you can really feast your eyes on a boob, and a big one at that. Go ahead and look, I want you to, jerk. And you want to know what really chaps my ass? When it’s women casting the dirty looks! (Do you sense how angry this makes me?)

It also says I’m a mom with a sense of humor and do not feel ashamed for breast feeding in public. Here’s the thing: at the time of this writing, there were more 7 billion people in the world. (If you want to see how many there are right now, go here. It’s impressive.) So if roughly 50% of the world’s population is female, that means about 3.5 billion people are female. And since the overwhelming majority has two boobies, there are about 7 billion milk-makers on the planet! (14 billion if you count male boobs.) Why is getting a glimpse of side boob such a big freaking deal??!!

And while I’m on the topic of breastfeeding, I just read this piece about a Texas judge who ruled that breastfeeding is not covered under discrimination laws. He writes, “Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition,” after a mom was fired for requesting to pump upon her return to work. Really? Lactation is not related to pregnancy? Or childbirth? Well then, I better get to the hospital fast because there must be something terribly wrong with me. The Huffington Post article notes that, “President Barack Obama’s health care law addresses breast feeding and requires employers to give new mothers a break to nurse, but it doesn’t specifically protect women from being fired if they ask to do so,” and in this case it wouldn’t apply anyway because it happened a few years before the health care law became official. Employers need to recognize that allowing women to pump on the job is a benefit to the baby, the mom, AND the company.

So, lady who got fired: I think you should go sit in front of your old employer’s office while breastfeeding your baby who’s wearing the Boobie Beanie.

I really could go on and on about this topic but, instead, I want to hear what you have to say. What are your thoughts about the Boobie Beanie and breast feeding? Would you have nursed longer if your company were more supportive? Have any zingers to share for those rude people who stare? Leave a comment!

Update: If you want to hear more about the laws in question and how they affect you, Kevin Sanderson, an employment lawyer who is an expert in discrimination, will be writing a guest post for us next week all about it. Check back to find more about about these laws!

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