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Bamby Salcedo calls out ICE for trans woman’s death

Salcedo heads the first trans-led organization providing direct services to L.A.’s trans community

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Bamby Salcedo addressing demonstrators in Downtown LA May 25. (Photo by Jake Finney)

Bamby Salcedo has organized way too many vigils for her murdered trans sisters, shared way too many tears and shouldered way too many burdens of dashed expectations to think progress has come quickly or easily to the transgender community in Los Angeles.

On May 29, as President and CEO of the [email protected] Coalition, Salcedo called for a vigil to mark the death of Roxanna Hernandez, one of 25 trans women who travelled from Central America to the U.S. border as part of a 300-person caravan seeking refuge from the violence in the countries they fled. Hernandez had AIDS and turned herself in seeking help.

“Jeffry Hernandez, 33, entered ICE custody May 13 in San Diego. Two days later, ERO San Diego transferred her to ERO El Paso, and on May 16 Hernandez arrived at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico, where she was housed in the transgender unit,” the May 25 ICE press release says. “On May 17, Hernandez was admitted to Cibola General Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV. Later in the day she was transferred via air ambulance to LMC, where she remained in the intensive care unit until her passing. LMC medical staff pronounced her deceased May 25 at 3:32 a.m. (MDT), and identified the preliminary cause of death as cardiac arrest.”

The press release also notes that “Hernandez is the sixth detainee to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1, 2017.” The agency also insisted it followed proper medical care service protocols, adding: “Pursuant to our commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE annually spends more than $250 million on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to detainees.”

Roxanna Hernandez (Photo via ICE and Bamby Salcedo)

“Roxana was one of those 25 trans women, who came to seek a better way of life,” Salcedo told a group of about 25 demonstrators outside the US Citizen and Immigration Services field office in Downtown LA on May 25. “And now because she was trying to get a better life, and because she was running away from the violence she experienced in Honduras, she came to the U.S. to find death. The system is the one that killed her.”

Salcedo wasn’t buying ICE’s explanation. “This news release by ICE is trying to diminish and devalue the life of our sister Roxanna!! The fact is, ICE let Roxanna die while she was detained,” Salcedo said on Facebook. “ICE could have sent her to received treatment and care. People do not die from AIDS complications now days. People die because of denial of treatment and the institutional red tape that has been set up for us to not be able to receive the help and support that we need in order to save our lives. The processing standards that ICE has (are) just one more obstacle that impedes for us to be able to receive the assistance that we need while we are in the horrific hands of ICE detention.”

Salcedo called out the inhumanity of the system. “ICE and immigration detention is a murder machine!! They do not care about who we are and why we are running away from our countries. We come here because they say that there is hope in this country. What hope is there when ICE and Homeland Security kill us?” she asked.

“ICE separates us when we disclose that we are HIV+ and Trans. That is what they did to Roxanna—they isolated her to let her die. They did not care for what she needed, the kind of treatment that she could have gotten, because ICE do not even have doctors who know and understand HIV/AIDS. It takes many weeks for one of us who discloses that they are HIV+ to be able to receive the treatment that we need and deserve. ICE is a killer machine! The current administration is creating assassins for pay—that is exactly what ICE does to our community!!!”

Salcedo says Hernandez was isolated “and died by herself, with no one to hold her hand and tell her that she was loved. This exact same experience happened to Victoria Arellano in 2007 when she was murdered by ICE. Eleven years later, history repeats itself. ICE is a murderer! This administration are murders! We remember and honor Roxanna, because #RoxannaVive en nuestros corazones!”

When she’s not challenging ICE or anything or anyone else with anti-trans attitudes or actions, Salcedo runs the first trans-led organization in the country to provide direct services and advocacy to L.A.’s trans and gender non-conforming population through The Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness. Studies have long shown a disproportionate impact of discrimination and violence against trans and gender non-conforming individuals, resulting in high rates of unemployment, violence, suicide, homelessness, and incarceration.
“We decided that in order for us to empower our community directly, we needed to move into doing direct service provision for our community,” says Salcedo. With a budget just over $1 million and a staff of ten employees, she has already outgrown its new space at 3055 Wilshire Center.

Salcedo’s first grant for her new endeavor came from the Elton John Foundation in January 2016 for a re-entry program providing emergency support services to trans people being released from prisons, jails and immigration detention. Subsequent funding has come from the State of California Workforce Development Board and the City of Los Angeles to connect trans people with skills and training needed for a variety of jobs in California’s hospitality industry as well as develop opportunities for trans people in existing work resource centers throughout the City.

At the start of 2018, the State of California’s Office of Emergency Services began funding support services to transgender victims of violence and Salcedo’s organization is most likely the first trans led organization to receive such funding from the state. The staff will provide case management and victim advocacy, including court accompaniment, assistance reporting crimes to police, and medical visits to clients. They are also in the process of setting up a free hotline for victims of violence to be staffed by a cohort of ten people who will be trained on how to answer calls and provide rapid response. Until the hotline is set up a “warm line” will be in place where victims can leave a message and expect a return call from staff within 24-48 hours.

Vital services also include a Drop-In Center that provides daily lunches; support to survivors of immigration detention and incarceration; leadership development; computer lab; ESL courses and employment and workforce development.

The primary reason Salcedo founded the organization is to respond to the continuous daily discrimination trans and gender non-conforming people experience when attempting to access basic services, oftentimes within the larger LGB community, and to step up and be proactive in addressing these issues.

“We, as trans people, better understand our specific needs and issues” she says. “So we wanted to make sure we address that and have a place where trans people can come and not only access services but also feel comfortable. We are building a safe place that is a family place, a safety net where people can come.” And why not, she notes, after all there are specific places for men, women, youth… so why not a transgender specific place?”

A warm, family feeling permeates Salcedo’s office, with a comfortable room for clients to sit down, relax, eat and have conversations with one another and the friendly staff there to provide peer support and mentoring. Spanish monolingual immigrants will find staff members who are able to communicate with them and support and advocate for them, especially clients who may have just been released from immigration detention. Many of them have fled their home countries to escape anti-transgender violence, including beatings and sexual assaults.

One client, a 22-year old Latina trans woman, learned about The Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness services through their volunteer pen pal program and financial assistance (money for calls, commissary, stamps) for trans detainees. She came there upon release from immigration detention last year, shattered from her experience and in search of support, which she found. Salcedo emphasizes, however, that non-Latina trans and non-gender conforming people are welcome, as well.

The center is located at 3055 Wilshire Blvd, Ste, 350, Los Angeles, CA 90010. Phone: (833) 847-2331, and through www.translatinacoalition.org.

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

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Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

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Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

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Health

HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”

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HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
 
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
 
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

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