The 2011 LGBTI Health Conference could not have come at a better time. I love a good conference just as much as any other justice minded queer, but on top of that, here in Minnesota we are dealing with some very real issues directly impacting LGBTQI health. Let me paint a picture for you…
14 days ago the Minnesota State Government shut down. Due to a partisan stalemate 22,000 Minnesotans were laid off from their jobs and thousands of health care services were limited or cut. Currently one the whispers from the legislature is “lez cut tobacco cessation and prevention money.” I don’t know if you all knew, but smoking prevalence is significantly higher in LGBTQI communities and the tobacco industry has us targeted in their marketing plans as a “vulnerable population.” It is queers, people of color, low-income folks that are the foci in the tobacco industry tornado, and it sure would be nice for some of those tobacco tax dollars would to go towards effective pubic health interventions directed at communities who need this support.
38 days ago the discrimination against transgender women of color in our criminal justice system was catapulted to the forefront of our community in Minneapolis. On June 5 a young transgender woman of color was the sole person arrested after she was the victim of a hate crime in front of a local tavern. She is being charged with the death of one of the perpetrators. As a community organizer I am not privy to the details of the case, but I know that violence was instigated through hate speech, oh, and a glass object thrown to her face. In prison she did not receive proper medical care and suffered from infections in her face, on top of being put in solitary confinement due to her trans identity. These are only two of the instances of violence that she endured since being added to the disproportionately long list of transgender women thrown in jail. Violence against transgender women of color is not just an issue in the prison industrial complex, but in the criminal justice system, the health care system, and pretty much every other SYSTEM out there.
So…I am going to this LGBTI Health Summit, and I am wondering what we as community are going to do to mitigate the violence against transgender women of color as a community health issue? And how are we going to talk about promoting healthy smoke free spaces and cessation programs to queer folks? Oh, and what do the conversations look like about homelessness, sex work, access to competent providers, transition care…and…and…we have a lot of learning and work to do.
For now I am stuck in the Milwaukee airport, but I am excited see you in Bloomington!