We are pleased to bring you this information through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:
April 18th is National Transgender HIV Testing Day, and all across the state there are opportunities for transgender people to learn their HIV status, get connected to care, and work with their peers to prevent HIV in their communities.
Transgender people face significant barriers to health care, especially in the South. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, these barriers include lack of health insurance, lack of access to providers knowledgeable about transgender health, and discrimination. One in three transgender people have avoided or delayed accessing sexual health care out of fear of discrimination. These fears are not ungrounded. Over half of transgender people engaged in healthcare have had to teach a medical provider about providing appropriate care, and approximately 20% of transgender people have been refused medical care by a provider because they were transgender.
Nearly one million Americans identify as transgender. Transgender women are at particularly high risk for contracting HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 14% of American transgender women have HIV. That percentage is greater for African American transgender women (44%) and Latinx transgender women (26%). While similar data for transgender men does not exist, transgender men who are gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving are at risk for HIV just as cisgender gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men are---but they are much less likely to be properly screened for HIV by health care providers. Transgender non-binary people who have sex without a prevention method and/or share needles are also at risk for HIV. Nearly half of all transgender Americans who are living with HIV live in a Southern state.
Tennessee Department of Health understands that these healthcare barriers will persist unless addressed. Work with health departments, health care providers, and non-profit partners to improve HIV prevention services for transgender people is ongoing. The Tennessee Transgender Task Force, a body comprised of transgender advocates knowledgeable about the HIV prevention and care network, helps shape and inform statewide HIV initiatives. The Cultural Awareness Survey Program assesses health department sexual health services, providing feedback to key public health leadership about how healthcare for transgender patients can be improved.
Through the Tennessee Department of Health, HIV testing, PrEP, condoms, and HIV treatment are available to all residents, and in celebration of National Transgender HIV Testing Day we raise awareness of these resources.
Rapid HIV testing is available all over Tennessee, where a simple finger prick can yield an accurate, same-day result. Many places in Tennessee use a double-rapid testing process, which means that a person can test positive for HIV and start on the path to getting into care on the same day. Click here for a statewide list of rapid HIV testing locations.
Transgender people, regardless of how they identify, can use both PrEP and condoms to safely protect themselves from contracting HIV. Tennessee has a robust condom distribution network, searchable online through Free Condoms TN. Getting PrEP in Tennessee can start online as well, through Get PrEP TN. Anyone can use Get PrEP TN to learn more about PrEP, contact a PrEP navigator, and find a medical provider to help them start the process. For transgender people wary of discrimination in health care settings, the PrEP navigator can attend the first PrEP doctor’s appointment with a client and help leverage resources through patient assistance programs to pay for PrEP.
Transgender people in Tennessee who want more access to sexual health care still face significant barriers, but also have access to more resources than ever before. Here is a list of regional resources that transgender people can use to improve their sexual health:
- Trans in the South guide
- Trans Best of Memphis
- Regional Health Departments in Tennessee
- The Corner
- Partnership to End AIDS Status
- My House
- Free Condoms TN
- Get PrEP TN
Update: April 18th is an opportunity to highlight how HIV affects transgender communities, but this April there is a health concern overshadowing all others. Due to state and local restrictions related to COVID-19, not all of the services detailed above are currently available. If you are worried about COVID-19 and looking for accurate sources of up-to-date information, here is a list of national and regional resources:
- TN Governor’s Daily COVID-19 Bulletin
- TN Department of Health’s COVID-19 Public Information Page
- TennCare’s COVID-19 Public Information Page
- Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 Resource Page
- National Center for Transgender Equality’s COVID-19 Guide
- LGBT Aging’s COVID-19 Resources for LGBTQ Seniors
The gay/LGBTQ bars in Tennessee have been important social and organizing spaces over the years. Now many of them are hurting, but there may be ways to continue supporting them during the COVID-19 crisis.
Here is a list of bars in Tennessee and links to find out about virtual shows, staff support funds, and in some cases food and drink orders to go. Note: No bars have been left out intentionally. If we have missed a bar, we will be glad to update the list. Just send the information to [email protected] .
Tennessee cities are listed alphabetically and bars are listed alphabetically within each city.
Alan Gold's: Check the website for information on to-go orders.
New Beginnings: Go to their Facebook page for information. You can tip performers on CashApp at $Newbiesdragshowlive or on Venmo at @NewBeginningsCast .
The Edge: Check their Facebook page for updates.
The Pumping Station: Check the Facebook page for updates.
Canvas Lounge: GoFundMe page.
The Lipstick Lounge: GoFundMe page.
Pecker's: GoFundMe page.
Play/Tribe/Suzy Wong's: GoFundMe page.
Trax: GoFundMe page.
This is TEP's email message from April 1. If you are not receiving our emails, you can sign up at this link.
Just over a week ago as the COVID-19 crisis was growing, the Tennessee General Assembly quickly passed a budget and went into recess until June 1. Unlike Idaho, our legislature thankfully did not rush to pass anti-transgender bills. But the bills in the Slate of Hate are not dead; they are waiting for us when and if the General Assembly reconvenes.
A shift in advocacy: Given the state's slow response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have been devoting our time to making sure Tennessee's LGBTQ community and allies have good information on health, job, financial, food, and volunteer resources. The first priority has to be that our community emerges from this crisis as healthy and as financially secure as possible. Below are some of the projects we are pursuing.
Census Day: April 1 is Census Day. We urge you to complete the Census, even though it is far less inclusive than we had hoped.
*Then take the Census pledge at this link letting us know that you are participating in the Census.
COVID-19 information: We have reached out to about 30 organizations serving Tennessee's LGBTQ community about sharing resources to help us get through this crisis. Many of our regional chairs have been sharing local information in TEP regional Facebook groups and we have been sharing statewide or multi-county information in this Facebook group. Please, join the group if you have not done so. If you are with an organization that serves Tennessee's LGBTQ community, we would like to talk to you about sharing information. Be in touch at [email protected] .
Voter registration: Tennessee still has two more elections coming up in August and November. It is fortunate that we have online voter registration. Please, help by sharing this online voter registration link with friends and on social media: https://proudvoter.org/partner/tep/ . You can also check your voter registration at that link. In addition, we have been working with groups attempting to expand options for voting by mail in Tennessee so that we can all exercise our rights while protecting our health.
Other ways to help: If you would like to volunteer, contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected] . If you would like to make a contribution to support our work, go to this link. We are grateful for your support.
Update: The Legislature will go into recess soon due to concerns about COVID-19. They will deal with items related to the budget this week and then take a recess. Anti-LGBTQ bills will be laid aside for the time being, but THEY ARE NOT DEAD. We will continue to monitor the Legislature's timetable and movement of key pieces of legislation. At the end of the recess, the Legislature can take up the same bills again. We are grateful for all your work.
Anti-LGBTQ bills are still moving in the Tennessee General Assembly. Take action now on these three campaigns that are NEW as of March 13. Details about the bills come after the campaigns.
Note: The Cordell Building is closed to the public starting March 16 until further notice.
The three big campaigns:
And if you would like to support our work, you can make a contribution at this link.
Schedule for the week:
Monday, March 16
1:30 Senate Education Committee takes up SB1736 (Hensley), an anti-transgender student athlete bill. Senate Hearing Room 1.
*TEP video on the bill: https://www.facebook.com/TennesseeEqualityProject/videos/195790828169623/
Tuesday, March 17
9:00 The House Public Health Subcommittee takes up HB2827 (Terry) that would freeze health care standards for transgender youth. The time is actually immediately after the Health Committee, which meets at 8:00. House Hearing Room 3.
Noon The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee takes up HB2576 (Ragan) that prevents transgender youth from accessing best practice health care. House Hearing Room 3.
*The Senate companion bill is not yet moving. We have already done campaigns on this bill and it is possible that the Legislature’s focus is becoming HB2827 by Rep. Terry.
4:30 The House K-12 Subcommittee takes up HB1572 (Griffey), one of the anti-transgender student athlete bills. House Hearing Room 3.
*The Senate companion bill is not yet moving. The most likely scenario is that the Legislature is focusing on HB1689 by Rep. Cepicky, so there will be no campaigns on this bill until further notice. We have already done campaigns on this bill.
Wednesday, March 18
8:00 The House Education Committee takes up HB1689 (Cepicky), an anti-transgender student athlete bill. House Hearing Room 1.
8:30 Senate Government Operations likely takes up SB2233 (Haile) that freezes health care standards for transgender youth. Senate Hearing Room 1.
*The bill is still not officially on the calendar for this committee as of Midnight on March 13.
2:00 The House Children and Families Subcommittee takes up two anti-marriage equality bills, HB2410 (Ragan) and HB2310 (Leatherwood). House Hearing Room 2.
*The Senate companion bills are not yet moving, but since this is the first time the House bills have been put on notice, we are doing campaigns just in case one gets through a House committee and triggers movement in the Senate committee system. The campaigns are in the top section of the post.
Anti-LGBTQ bills are still on the move in Tennessee. Here's what to expect March 9 through March 11. All email action campaigns and Facebook events are new as of the evening of March 5.
SB2233 by Sen. Haile is up in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. It is a caption bill that will likely carry language affecting the access of transgender youth to best practice health care. This bill and amendment were not sought by the transgender community, LGBTQ organizations, parents of transgender youth, or health care providers. Our understanding is that it will put into law the existing protocols. The problem is, besides the fact that no one affected requested the bill, that protocols change as research and experience provide new information. We should not have to go through a legislative or regulatory change every time the standards evolve.
HB1689 by Rep. Cepicky is the second anti-transgender student athlete bill and it is up for consideration in the House K-12 Education Subcommittee.
SB2233 by Sen. Haile was rolled from Monday to the March 11 meeting of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. It will carry language putting into law existing protocols about best practice care for transgender youth. No one affected by the bill asked for it. See the explanation given for March 9.
SB2896/HB2721 is the "censor the libraries, jail the librarians" bill. It is back up in Senate Government Operations Committee and House Cities and Counties Subcommittee.
*Note: We are not currently doing additional email campaigns on these bills because Tennessee Equality Project, Human Rights Campaign, and Tennessee Library Association members have already generated a large volume of email to the Senate and House committees considering the bill. If we decide to add email campaigns, we will post them here and on social media.
HB2410 by Rep. Ragan is an anti-marriage equality bill up for consideration in the House Children & Families Subcommittee.
As always your financial support of our work is very much appreciated. You can give at this link.
This is a statewide call to action. Massive attacks on Tennessee's LGBTQ community are coming on March 3 and 4 as the #SlateofHate moves into full swing. Here is information on the bills up for votes next week and information on what you can do. As always, we are grateful for your support of our work.
Note: All the email campaigns below are new as of the evening of February 26. Please, take action on each one individually. And attend as many events as you can. We need to fill these committee rooms in the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville.
HB2576, the bill preventing transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care and labeling the doctors who provide it as child abusers, is up for a vote.
HB1572, the bill that prevents transgender student athletes from participating according to their gender identity, is up for a vote in a House subcommittee.
SB2896/HB2721, the attempt to put in place parent boards for every public library system in the state that would result in censorship and fines and jail time for librarians who violate their edicts, is up for a vote in Senate and House committees on this date.
*Attend the event in RED to show opposition to the bill in the Senate.
Take action and share with your friends.
Tennessee’s 2020 Slate of Hate
Here are the key bills filed that present direct attacks on Tennessee's LGBTQ community that could move in the 2020 state legislative session.
Attacks on transgender youth:
SB2215/HB2576: This bill interferes with the ability of transgender youth to access gender-affirming healthcare and outrageously labels violations as child abuse.
SB1499/HB1274: This bill represents a new twist on the older anti-transgender student bathroom bills. It provides state legal assistance to school districts that adopt anti-transgender student policies. Filed in 2019.
Attacks on marriage equality:
SB2625/HB2410 and SB2290/HB2310: These two bills attempt to undo or interrupt marriage equality by establishing a new definition of “secular marriage” and repealing existing Tennessee laws on marriage licensing.
SB1282/HB1369: The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act. Filed in 2019.
Attacks on the ability of local governments to serve the LGBTQ community:
SB364/HB563: The Business License to Discriminate bill prevents local governments from favoring companies that have good workplace policies like inclusive non-discrimination. Filed in 2019.
SB2896/HB2721: This bill would hinder the ability of public libraries to provide Pride and LGBTQ displays and programming.
How to Help:
1. If you would like to serve as a district captain for our March 3 Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, be in touch at [email protected] . If you would like to volunteer in other ways, contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected] .
2. If you would like to contribute, go to this link.
Note: There are additional bills that we are aware of and are tracking that could be used as weapons against the LGBTQ community. We will update the slate as we gather more information. In addition, the adoption discrimination bill has already been signed into law.
This information is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:
Love is on the mind of many during the month of February. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and can serve as the perfect time to start the discussion with the young people in your life about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
Dating can be an exciting milestone for teens, but it can sometimes lead to dating violence, both physical and emotional. Nationally 1 in 11 girls and 1 in 15 boys reported dating violence in 2018 (Centers for Disease Control, 2018). One in three teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone they’re in a relationship with before they become an adult. In our state, teens are more likely to experience sexual assault than any other age group (Tennessee Department of Health, 2018). LGBTQ teens are more likely to experience all types of violence, including in their relationships, and have additional barriers to recognizing the dangers and to getting help (CDC, 2018).
Violent partners can be of any gender. They often become jealous easily, have explosive tempers, isolate their partners from friends and families, make false accusations, appear bossy or possessive, and will pressure their partners to do things against their will. Here are additional red flags that a teen is involved in an unhealthy relationship;
- Lack of respect: They’ll go along with something even if they don’t think its right, then feel bad about what happens when they’re with their partner.
- Controlling behavior: They always need to know where their partner is and what they’re doing.
- Feeling jealous most of the time: A little bit of jealousy is normal. A lot of jealousy or allowing jealousy to control what goes on between the two will hurt the relationship.
- Trying to change the other person’s behavior: “Its my way or no way.”
Studies show teens who are victims of dating violence are more likely to have problems with school, substance abuse, depression and social experiences. Signs of dating violence often start early. Parents can talk to their kids about healthy relationships in middle school, before they even start dating. Healthy parent-child relationships also lead to more satisfaction in romantic relationships. Adults can start by talking with their children about:
- Setting expectations for how they wanted to be treated in relationships
- Recognizing when a relationship is unhealthy
- Supporting friends dealing with unhealthy relationships
It is also important for adults to model what healthy relationships look like. When children understand what a healthy relationship is, they are less likely to accept dating violence in their own lives. So, what are the signs of a healthy relationship? In a healthy relationship, people:
- Share common interests while having outside friends and social activities
- Show respect for one another
- Make decisions with the goal of helping each other grow into better people
- Settle disagreements respectfully and peacefully
Teen dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. Teachers, health care providers, social services professionals, and youth-serving organization staff are all in positions to better see and act on teen dating violence warning signs and to connect teens to prevention programming before problems start. The Tennessee Department of Health’s Rape Prevention and Education program offers training and support for community agencies, schools and sports teams to implement evidence-based prevention programs. These include Coaching Boys into Men, Safe Dates, and Athletes as Leaders.
Teens in unhealthy or violent relationships are often afraid to ask for help. When individual support is needed, teens can visit Love is Respect or call the hotline (866-331-9474) to learn about how to handle abusive teen dating relationships. Teens can also text “loveis” to 22522 for help on their mobile phone.
The list of bills attacking the LGBTQ community is growing in Tennessee.
Here are are some of the latest additions:
SB2215/HB2576 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan: This bill interferes with the ability of parents and physicians to provide gender affirming care to transgender youth, even labeling those involved as child abusers.
SB2625/HB2410 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan: A bizarre bill that attempts to define secular marriage as marriage between a man and a woman and an attempt to establish secular marriage in Tennessee. It is another odd approach at undoing marriage equality. SB2290/HB2310 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Leatherwood deletes the statute on marriage licensing. These are both efforts to interrupt and eventually undo marriage equality.
There is a new bill that increases the likelihood that LGBTQ and Pride displays at public libraries would be censored or curtailed by Sen. Bailey and Rep. Holt (SB2896/HB2721).
Held over from last year are three bills that could still advance:
SB364/HB563 by Sen. Rose and Rep. Zachary: The Business License to Discriminate bill has already passed the House and could come up in the Senate State & Local Government Committee.
SB1499/HB1274 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Holt: This is the Tennessee twist on the anti-transgender student bathroom bill. Instead of setting a blanket, statewide policy for every school, this bill provides legal support to school districts that adopt anti-transgender student bathroom policies.
SB1282/HB1369 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton is the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.
Sadly the adoption discrimination bill that allows public funds to go to adoption/foster care agencies that turn away LGBTQ and other prospective parents because of a religious or moral objection became law in January.
How to Help:
1. We need district captains for the March 3 Advancing Equality Day on the Hill in Nashville. District captains set up meetings with their own legislators, run those meetings, and report back on those meetings. If you are interested, be in touch at [email protected] .
2. Volunteer in other ways. Contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected] if you can help.
Love goes head to head with the Slate of Hate in February. Get involved at these events:
February 1 in Murfreesboro: TEP speaking about state legislation at the TFDW meeting
February 2 in Nashville: Voter Registration Drive at The Lipstick Lounge
February 3 Statewide: Last day to register to vote if you want to vote in the March 3 Election
February 4 in Nashville: Advancing Equality Days on the Hill- Part 1
February 5 in Knoxville: Coffee + Advocacy
February 6 in Dickson: Advocacy 101
February 11 in Clarksville: Legislative Update
February 12 Statewide: First Day of Early Voting. Click the link to find a map to locate information from your county election commission on times and locations.
February 15 in Knoxville: The Love Bazaar
February 16 in Memphis: TEP Gumbo Contest
February 17 in Morristown: TEP Lakeway Area monthly meeting
February 22 in Murfreesboro: Biscuits and Ballots: Early Voting in Murfreesboro
And remember that February is Black History Month. Explore the Tennessee LGBTQ and ally connections to Black History Month at this link.
If you would like to volunteer, contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected]
To make a contribution to support our work, go to this link.