Metro Weekly

Destination Tomorrow grants $350,000 to 16 trans-led organizations to fight HIV

Grants were made possible through Gilead Sciences' TRANScend Community Impact Fund

destination tomorrow, trans, grant, hiv

HIPS – Photo by Ward Morrison.

Destination Tomorrow, the grant-making partner under Gilead Sciences’ TRANScend Initiative, gave out $350,000 in grants to 16 grassroots transgender-led organizations seeking to reduce HIV transmissions among members of the transgender community.

Gilead’s TRANScend Community Impact Fund was created to give $4.5 million to organizations dealing with the transgender community to help combat the HIV epidemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14% of trans women in the United States are living with HIV, with rates significantly higher among transgender women of color.

As recently as 2017, transgender individuals were three times more likely than the national average to receive a new HIV diagnosis.

“Throughout my many years of service, trans-led organizations have continued to be left behind,” Asia Lyons, TRANScend Program Manager for Destination Tomorrow, said in a statement. “Not only is this funding critical to allow grassroots trans-led organizations around the country to continue serving the transgender community, but it will help empower transgender leaders around the country.”

The funding comes at a crucial moments for organizations who are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 1 in 3 transgender people lacked regular access to healthcare even prior to the pandemic, and about half of transgender people face employment discrimination, both factors that will make it more difficult for the community to rebound when the pandemic subsides.

“Gilead is proud to partner with Destination Tomorrow as they support grassroots organizations that are working to reduce HIV in the transgender Community, particularly in the midst of this pandemic,” Diana Oliva, Senior Manager of Advocacy and Community Engagement at Gilead Sciences, said in a statement. “We should all be looking around us in this moment to see who is in need and asking ourselves what we can do to help.”

This year’s beneficiaries include: the Dallas-based Helping Out People Equally (HOPE); the Houston-based Mahogany Project; the Trans Inclusive Group of Fort Lauderdale; We Care; Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs of Calabasas, Calif.; Elohim Urban Mission of Chicago; the Partnership to End AIDS Status, of Memphis, Tenn; the New York-based Keeping Ballroom Alive; True Self Foundation of San Juan, Puerto Rico; El/ELLA Translatinas of San Francisco; the Rockland Pride Center, in Nyack, N.Y.; and the Atlanta-based UBUNTU.

Three local organizations that are benefitting from the grants are: Baltimore Safe Haven, the D.C.-based Trans United & Building Power, and HIPS, which works with the transgender community as well as sex workers.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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