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Trans Rights Are a Harm Reduction Issue


This week, the President took to Twitter to announce an oppressive new policy that negatively affects trans Americans. He stated that being transgender is a burden and a disruption to military operations, and announced in that he will be reversing an Obama Administration policy of allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military. This ban on transgender people serving in the military comes amid a larger wave of transphobia in recent years. So far in 2017, 15 transgender persons have been killed.

In New York City, the NYC Human Rights Commission cited four Substance Abuse Treatment Centers for violations regarding treatment of transgender people in their care. The commission found that one of these centers had a policy of refusing to serve transgender patients in their facilities. Another center housed transgender women in male facilities based on the sex assigned to them at birth, a clear violation NYC Human Rights law. Yet another facility subjected transgender patients to unwarranted bodily searches to determine if patients had undergone sex affirming surgeries or were on hormone replacement therapy. Another facility forcibly segregated transgender patients in private rooms.

Discrimination against trans people and broader LGBTQ communities should be a central concern for harm reduction. LGBTQ people report higher rates of substance use, and discrimination leaves them more vulnerable to drug-related harms. Harm Reduction Coalition’s principles of harm reduction recognize that social inequalities and structural oppression “affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.” We stand in solidarity with trans people and organizations resisting violence, discrimination, and marginalization.

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