Orlando Sentinel Profiles Home for Transgender People Living With HIV
The Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday profiled the region's first residential home for transgender people living with HIV, which advocates say helps a "unique community that faces discrimination, ignorance and a disproportionate share" of HIV/AIDS cases. Keith Theriot, program manager for Orlando's Housing and Community Development Department, said that the population is "particularly complicated," adding that officials "really want to have a safe and stable environment for our clients that are in need." Michael Vance -- executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida -- said, "When they become homeless, they cannot go to a female homeless shelter because biologically they still have male parts." He added, "But if they go to male shelters, they are often abused, ridiculed and sexually abused."
According to the Sentinel, accommodations for the house were arranged by the city of Orlando's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, and the rent is paid by the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention. Residents at the home -- which opened July 1 and is full with four residents -- can access drug rehabilitation services, counseling and medical care to help them become self sufficient. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said that because many states lack explicit antidiscrimination laws to protect transgender people, they often lose their jobs. "Their options are to die in the streets -- that is literally what happens," Minter said, adding, "There are a significant number of trans-women who are forced into sex work in order to survive, and many end up with HIV." According to the Sentinel, the National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that about three million U.S. residents identify themselves as transgender (Hernandez, Orlando Sentinel, 9/3).