National Transgender HIV Testing Day Social at Wang’s in the Desert April 18, 5-6:30pm (FREE)

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April 13, 2018

At the National Transgender HIV Testing Day Social, you’ll notice attention being paid to HIV testing, prevention and treatment among transgender people. But what you might not be expecting is an emphasis on community building, mutual support, and performances by some of Coachella Valley’s top trans talent.

Transgender women have 49 times the odds of having HIV compared to the general population, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anotonia D’orsay, founder of Trans 100 and Bruce Weiss, director of community health at D.A.P., will talk about the best practices for preserving trans health. And the crowd will be wowed by performances by local celebrities Keisha D. and Allison Lenore.

Wine, champagne, hors d’oeuvres, gift bags and a raffle will be provided.

Palm Springs might be known as a gay haven, but many don’t realize how much discrimination and isolation the trans community faces, even as acceptance of cisgender gays (identifying with the gender assigned at birth) seems to grow.

The CDC agrees that transphobia and exclusion faced by the trans community leads to greater infection rates, only to be made worse by barriers to access to treatment.

According to Allison Lenore, the gay community itself has a transphobia problem. She says cisgender MSMs can be the most prejudiced members of the community she’s encountered. She sees this as a huge impediment to encouraging many trans women to take better care of their health.

“Yes the outside world needs to be educated, but when you’re being discriminated against within your own group, you put yourself at risk because you just don’t care anymore.”

Lenore does have faith in the younger generation and mentioned the recent marches across the nation against gun violence led by high schoolers as one reason why.

“The younger generation is less jaded and more open-minded,” she said. “They haven’t been taught to discriminate as much.”

There’s hope for others, but not without perhaps some soul-searching. “The older crowd isn’t going to change unless it wants to.”

But with many minorities feeling vulnerable as hard-won gains are rolled back legislatively, Lenore says now’s the time to come together.

“The L, the G, the B, the T, and the Q need to band together as a cohesive whole instead of fighting amongst ourselves because that’s the only way we’re going to get anything done.”

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