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Chicago House to present Impact of COVID-19 on trans communities May 29
2020-05-28

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CHICAGO, IL — Transgender people, who traditionally experience barriers accessing safe and affirming health care and having their concerns listened to and understood, are facing new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the specific challenges and concerns of COVID-19 to transgender and gender expansive individuals, Chicago House will host a public forum titled The Impact of COVID-19 on Trans Communities on Friday, May 29 at 11 a.m. CDT. Conversations focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on transgender communities are crucial during this unprecedented time. This panel will be the latest of a multi-part roundtable series addressing the intersectional impacts of COVID-19 on individuals living with or most vulnerable to HIV and the LGBTQ+ communities.

Chicago House and Social Service Agency has hosted an ongoing virtual roundtable series this spring, facilitating conversations with Illinois leaders around the unique impacts of COVID-19 on some of Chicago's most marginalized communities.

Join virtually as leaders in Illinois' transgender communities elevate a critical conversation regarding the effects of COVID-19 on transgender, gender expansive, and gender nonconforming individuals. Moderated by Channyn Lynne Parker, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Howard Brown Health, this much needed discussion will address the health and resource disparities among Illinois' transgender and gender nonconforming ( TGNC ) communities, how those disparities are intensified by this pandemic, and how this crisis affects the collective efforts of the state's direct service organizations to eradicate new HIV transmissions through the statewide Getting To Zero plan.

The roundtable discussion will include Transgender Law Center Policy Coordinator Ash Stephens ( they/them and he/him ), SER El Cambio Founder and Director and member of The Transformative Justice Law Project's Policy and Advocacy Team Tania Cordova ( she/her ), Chicago House TransLife Care Program Coordinator, author, and community activist Reyna Ortiz ( she/her ), and Brave Space Alliance Founder and Executive Director LaSaia Wade ( she/her and they/them ).

The public is invited to register to attend the forum at www.chicagohouse.org/may-29. The forum can also be viewed via Facebook Live on Chicago House's Facebook page .

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the racism, xenophobia, and classism that black and brown communities continually face, including trans people," said Cordova. "The trans community continues to

fight, organize, survive, and thrive under widespread systematic disenfranchisement fueled by transphobia. We must honor their legacies by learning from their resilience and leadership."

Compared to their cisgender counterparts, transgender and gender expansive individuals experience heightened rates of homelessness and housing instability, employment discrimination, and lack of access to affirming healthcare services because of their gender identity. Transfeminine individuals, and especially trans women of color, face disproportionate violence, including murder, motivated by transphobia, racism, and sexism.

Coupled with existing disparities in healthcare among LGBTQ+ communities, and especially in communities of color, the impact of COVID-19 is disproportionately felt in the most marginalized populations in Chicago and across Illinois. Black Chicagoans make up about 30% of the city's population but have made up nearly half of Chicago's COVID-19 deaths, with Latinx individuals accounting for more new statewide positive COVID-19 diagnoses than any other demographic1. Individuals experiencing homelessness are far more likely to be hospitalized or require critical care because of COVID-19—and at much higher risk of dying of COVID-19—than stably housed individuals, further amplifying the pandemic's effects among Chicagoans living at the intersection of multiple oppressions.

This public conversation serves as the first in an ongoing series that will center the concerns and barriers faced by transgender and gender-expansive individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. This series will also build upon recent virtual roundtable discussions with leadership from government, non-profit organizations, and members of the Chicagoland community on the intersections of COVID-19, the HIV epidemic, and LGBTQ+ marginalization. The earlier conversations can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/covid19chicagopanel.

Brave Space Alliance is a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city.

Chicago House & Social Service Agency supports those living with or most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS by offering housing, health, and employment services and a TransLife Care program.

Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness.

SER El Cambio is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help transgender women being released from incarceration by providing access to resources for personal and spiritual growth, transformation and lifelong wellness.

Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois provides free, zealous, life-affirming, and gender-affirming holistic criminal legal services to low-income and street based transgender and gender expansive people targeted by the criminal legal system. For the past nine years, TJLP has provided free name change and identity document change services to transgender and gender expansive individuals through the Name Change Mobilization.

Transgender Law Center changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. 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.

—From a press release


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