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National AIDS Policy Office: Congress must increase funding

“We have the support of the Biden administration, and we have the support at HHS, but without Congressional funding we can’t get there”



President Joe Biden wears a ribbon for World AIDS Day as he works at the Resolute desk, Wednesday, December 1, 2021, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – Harold Phillips, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), said Monday that Congress must increase funding to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including for programs designed around the lives and needs of Americans who are living with the disease.

“We have the support of the Biden Harris administration, and we have the support at HHS, but without Congressional funding we can’t get there,” said Phillips, who delivered his remarks during the AIDS United annual AIDSWatch conference in Washington, D.C.

Phillips echoed remarks by other speakers in calling for Congress to increase appropriations funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, but he also emphasized the importance of “making space for people living with HIV in other aspects of the budget.”

Consistent with the Biden-Harris administration’s focus on employing a whole-of-government approach, Phillips said stakeholders must understand that while “HIV is, yes, a public health threat,” the disease is also “the result of systemic and structural racism,” an intersectional problem requiring more than narrowly focused biomedical or public health responses.

Therefore, he said, these conversations about matters like HIV’s impact on Black lives, or considerations for aging folks who are living with the disease, must be held at places like the White House Gender Policy Council, the National Economic Council, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“When we talk about ending HIV as a public health threat,” Phillips said, “we also want to end HIV such that it’s not the defining characteristic for people living with HIV and that they can have access to housing, access to employment, good mental health and substance abuse treatment.”

Former ONAP Director Sandra Thurman with ONAP Director Harold Phillips (Screen shot/YouTube)

Under Phillips’s leadership, data on these considerations for those living with HIV/AIDS will be measured for the first time with ONAP’s rollout of new quality of life indicators in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan.

“There’s an indicator in there that’s self-reported quality of life,” Phillips said, which asks respondents to consider, “how do I feel?” This is important, he added, because people living with HIV may have positive lab results but still feel poorly.

Phillips advised those AIDSWatch participants who are slated to meet with members of Congress and their staffs after hosting a rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday morning to “build a common bond” with lawmakers by emphasizing the human impact of the appropriations funding for which they are advocating.

An AIDS United spokesperson told the Washington Blade by email Monday that 187 Congressional meetings have been scheduled for Tuesday.

Phillips also noted that while “conversations need to happen in Washington, there’s also conversations that need to happen on the state and local level,” where “we’re finding a level of hate and stigma and discrimination that’s on course to try to either stop our progress or take us backwards.”

Speaking before Phillips, Equality Federation Public Health Policy Strategist Mike Webb stressed the importance of policies under consideration by state and local lawmakers. “Our access to PrEP shouldn’t be based on patchwork of laws by the states,” they said, and HIV-related legislative proposals in many cases would “add criminalizing aspects.”

Laws already on the books that “criminalize the transmission of, or perceived exposure to, HIV and other infectious diseases,” the Movement Advancement Project writes, “create a strong disincentive for being tested for HIV, and result in adverse public health outcomes.”

Phillips and the Biden administration have made modernizing or repealing those laws a top priority.



Gilead awards $5 mil grant to HRC’s HIV & health equity programs

Funds are for the HRC Foundation’s HIV and Health Equity Program, its Historically Black Colleges & Universities Program



Entrance sign to Gilead Corporate Headquarters, Foster City, Calif. (Photo Credit: Gilead Media Affairs)

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign was awarded a $5 million grant from drugmaker Gilead Sciences to expand the organization’s HIV and health equity programs, supporting efforts to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 while combatting stigma in Black and Latino communities.

Funds will be used over the next three years for the HRC Foundation’s HIV and Health Equity Program, its Historically Black Colleges & Universities Program, and its Transgender Justice Initiative, HRC said in a statement Wednesday announcing receipt of the award, which extends Gilead’s $3.2 million grant to the HRC Foundation in 2021.

The organization said its HIV and Health Equity Program plans to develop a “benchmarking tool for institutions that provide HIV services, helping better evaluate the quality of care and measure racially and socially inclusive approaches” while defining “best practices, policies, and procedures to optimize HIV service provision for BIPOC LGBTQ+ communities.”

HRC President Kelley Robinson said, “Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, racism and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination have created dangerous hurdles for those seeking prevention or treatment.

“With the generous support of Gilead Sciences, we’ll be able to continue providing critical
resources to help overcome these hurdles, especially focusing on Black and Latiné communities in the U.S. South.

“We’ll also be able to expand our efforts, as we seek to remove institutional barriers often unknowingly created by HIV service providers. We must decrease the disparities that place an unnecessary burden on Black and Latiné LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV.”

Gilead Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and General Counsel Deborah Telman said the company “is committed to advancing health equity, particularly in Black communities and other communities of color that are disproportionately affected by HIV.”

“This grant will build on the impactful work HRC has done with community partners and HBCUs to increase awareness of HIV treatment and prevention options and reduce health disparities, combat discrimination and fight stigma,” Telman said.

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New data shows HIV infections dropped- mostly among whites

Significant decline in new HIV infections, but impact of prevention efforts far less substantial for Black and Hispanic-Latino populations



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta. (Photo Credit: CDC/GSA)

ATLANTA – Data published Tuesday. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a significant decline in new HIV infections, but suggests the impact of prevention efforts was far less substantial for Black and Latino populations.

From 2017 to 2021, as rates of HIV testing, treatment, and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication rose, new cases dropped by 12 percent overall and by as much as 34 percent among gay and bisexual males aged 13 to 24.

The numbers show a “move in the right direction,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press release.

However, when broken down by race, the CDC found new infections were down by 27 percent and 36 percent, respectively, among Black and Hispanic-Latino populations, compared with 45 percent of whites.

Similarly, by 2021 about one third of those who are considered eligible were taking PrEP for HIV prevention, but the CDC noted this number includes “relatively few Black people or Hispanic/Latino people” despite the significant increase in prescriptions up from just 13 percent in 2017.

“Longstanding factors, such as systemic inequities, social and economic marginalization and residential segregation,” Walensky noted, continue to act as barriers “between highly effective HIV treatment and prevention and people who could benefit from them.”

She added, “Efforts must be accelerated and strengthened for progress to reach all groups faster and equitably.”

Robyn Neblett Fanfair, acting director of the CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention, said that “At least three people in the U.S. get HIV every hour—at a time when we have more effective prevention and treatment options than ever before.”

“These tools must reach deep into communities and be delivered faster to expand progress from some groups to all groups,” she said.

The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute issued a press release following the CDC’s announcement of the new data, noting both the encouraging progress and need for improvement.

“It appears that our investments in HIV prevention are providing some positive results, but the persistent high number of new diagnoses and the low usage of PrEP among the communities most impacted by HIV point to the need for increased resources, particularly for a national PrEP program,” said the group’s executive director, Carl Schmid.

President Joe Biden’s FY24 budget requested $237 million for a national PrEP program along with $850 million to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.” initiative.

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Mpox prevention, vaccinations for this year’s LGBTQ events urged

The CDC on Monday issued a Health Alert Network Health Update on the potential risk for new mpox cases urging vaccinations



Drs. Robert Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis, coordinator and deputy coordinator for the White House national mpox response, during a briefing in August 2022 (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)

ATLANTA – Federal health agencies, in coordination with their state and local counterparts and community partners, are exploring opportunities to offer mpox prevention initiatives and vaccinations at LGBTQ events this summer, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said on Thursday.

Daskalakis, deputy coordinator for the White House national mpox response, described these deliberations in response to a question from the Washington Blade during a media telebriefing update on mpox that was hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC on Monday issued a Health Alert Network Health Update on the potential risk for new mpox cases.

Since the peak of about 460 cases per day in August 2022, new cases have steadily declined, but following the cluster recently reported in the Chicago area, the update warns, “spring and summer season in 2023 could lead to a resurgence of mpox as people gather for festivals and other events.”

“We have the vaccine, and we have organizations that are willing to do it,” Daskalakis said during Thursday’s call, adding that resources are available and can be deployed flexibly because they are built into existing “HIV and STI funding to allow for this work.”

And the Mpox Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement, Daskalakis said, “provides even more resources locally for such efforts.”

Daskalakis and CDC Mpox Response Incident Manager Dr. Christopher R. Braden also briefed reporters on findings from new studies on the efficacy of the JYNNEOS vaccine for the prevention of mpox.

That data, per the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reveals that “Among gay, bisexual, and other MSM and transgender adults aged 18–49 years, 2 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine were 86% effective against mpox, indicating substantial protection against mpox.”

Additionally, “All routes of vaccine administration provided similar protection.”

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Federal Government

FDA finalizes new blood donation risk assessment guidelines

“The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community”



Photo Credit: American Red Cross

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday finalized new guidelines for blood donation that will use a uniform individualized risk assessment questionnaire for respondents regardless of their sexual orientation, sex, or gender.

The move, which brings U.S. policy in line with procedures used in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, marks a significant departure from longstanding bans targeting gay and bisexual men who have sex with men that were gradually eased over the decades since the AIDS epidemic.

“The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a press release issued by the agency.

“The FDA is committed to working closely with the blood collection industry to help ensure timely implementation of the new recommendations and we will continue to monitor the safety of the blood supply once this individual risk-based approach is in place.”

Under the new guidelines, prospective donors who have had a new sexual partner, or more than one sexual partner in the past three months, and anal sex in the past three months, would be ineligible.

So would those who are “taking medications to treat or prevent HIV infection (e.g., antiretroviral therapy (ART), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP),” because these drugs can delay the detection of HIV.

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LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

CDC: A quarter-plus of U.S. high school students identify LGBTQ

The CDC reported that the number of students in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ has increased from 11% in 2015 to 26% in 2021



LGBTQ+ youth gather to protest over anti-LGBTQ+ laws & policies in Orlando, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Will Larkins, featured center)

ATLANTA – A new report released last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows over one out of every four high school students in the United States identifies as LGBTQ.

Using data from the bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a set of surveys that track behaviors that can lead to poor health in students grades 9 through 12, the CDC examined:

  • Student demographics: sex, sexual identity, race and ethnicity, and grade
  • Youth health behaviors and conditions: sexual, injury and violence, bullying, diet and physical activity, obesity, and mental health, including suicide
  • Substance use behaviors: electronic vapor product and tobacco product use, alcohol use, and other drug use
  • Student experiences: parental monitoring, school connectedness, unstable housing, and exposure to community violence

The current report was gathered using data collected in 2021 which found that 74.2% of American high school students identified as heterosexual. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System  (YRBSS) interviewed 17,508 students from 152 schools across the U.S.

Results also showed that 3.2% of students identified as either gay or lesbian, 5.2% identified as “questioning” and 12.2% identified as bisexual. About 3.9% of students answered the question by saying they were “other” and 1.8% claimed they didn’t understand the question.

YRBS results help monitor adolescent health behavior changes over time, identify emerging issues, and plan and evaluate programs to support the health of youth. YRBS data are used by health departments, educators, lawmakers, doctors, and community organizations to inform school and community programs, communications campaigns, and other efforts.

The YRBSS was designed to:

  • Determine how often unhealthy behaviors occur
  • Assess whether unhealthy behaviors increase, decrease, or stay the same over time
  • Provide data at the national, state, territorial and freely associated state, tribal, and local levels
  • Provide data comparing different groups of adolescents
  • Monitor progress toward achieving the Healthy People Objectives and other program goals

Based on the ten year span in studies between 2011 and 2021, the CDC reported that the number of students in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ has increased from 11% in 2015 to 26% in 2021. That increase “might be a result of changes in question wording to include students identifying as questioning,” the report claims.

About 57% of those high school students in the CDC’s data said that they have not had any sexual contact in their lives, while 34.6% of those students said they had sexual contact with someone of the opposite sex.

Just 2.4% of students reported that they’ve had sexual contact with the same sex, and 6% said that they’ve had sexual contact with both sexes, according to the CDC.

Mirroring the CDC numbers in the YRBSS, the results of recent Gallup polling revealed that 7.2% of U.S. adults now identify as LGBTQ+ broken down by age grouping:

  • -19.7% of Gen Z (ages 19-26)
  • -11.2% of millennials, (ages 27-42)
  • -3.3% of Gen X (ages 43-58)
  • -2.7% of Baby Boomers (ages 59-77)
  • -1.7% of the Silent Gen (ages 78+)

Read the full report: (Here)

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LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

Public health crisis: 50% of trans & nonbinary kids consider suicide

LGBTQ+ young people who experienced victimization because of their orientation or identity — including being physically threatened or harmed



Los Angeles Blade/Trevor Project graphic

NEW YORK – The nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth released the results of its latest survey of queer young people ages 13 to 24 Monday, and the findings by The Trevor Project should set off alarm bells.

The survey of 28K youth nationwide, conducted last fall, underscores the negative mental health impact of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and policies. Among the key findings:

  •    41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year — and those who are transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers. 
  •    56% who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
  •    LGBTQ+ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events, and online spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not.
  •    Transgender and nonbinary young people reported lower rates of attempting suicide when all of the people they live with respected their pronouns and/or they had access to a gender-neutral bathroom at school.
  •     LGBTQ+ young people who experienced victimization because of their orientation or identity — including being physically threatened or harmed, discriminated against, or subjected to conversion therapy — reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not have any of these anti-LGBTQ+ experiences.
  •     Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ+ people at school — also known as “Don’t Say Trans or Gay” laws — negatively impacted their mental health.

“This is a public health crisis — and it’s preventable,” said Kasey Suffredini, The Trevor Project’s vice president of advocacy & government affairs. “Our government must work from the top down to curb risk factors like violence and discrimination and increase access to essential health care, safe schools, and support systems. Yet, far too many lawmakers at the state level are working overtime to push a dangerous political agenda that will jeopardize young lives. We understand that some of these issues can seem complicated for people who’ve never met a transgender person, but the impact of victimization on our young people is clear and dire.”

Annual report on mental health of LGBTQ people ages 13 to 24 amplifies need for affirming homes and schools

This is Trevor’s fifth annual national survey, and the political climate appeared to be a significant factor in the findings. With more than 600 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced this year alone, researchers found that LGBTQ+ young people continue to report significantly high rates of mental health challenges and suicide risk. Also, experiences of anti-LGBTQ+ stigma and victimization contributed to the disparity when compared to the experiences of straight and cisgender youth.  

Their research, says a spokesperson, also underscores the protective nature of affirming homes and schools, the importance of transgender-inclusive policies, and the ways in which schools, families and lawmakers can show support for LGBTQ+ young people. 

For more results and other information, click here for The Trevor Project survey.

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The dangerous misinformation about transitioning

For a small minority, transitioning is not the right thing, but for the vast majority it causes significant life and wellbeing improvements



Jamie Anthony Lotun-Raines, PhD. (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Jamie Anthony Lotun-Raines, PhD. | ESSEX, UK – My response to misinformation about trans people and transitioning. The kind of information being shared in the TikTok I react to causes harm and is dangerous to spread. For a small minority, transitioning is not the right thing, but for the vast majority it causes significant life and wellbeing improvements.

Jamie Anthony Lotun-Raines is an English YouTuber and LGBTQ advocate. His videos include commentary on gender identity and other LGBTQ+ issues as well as general lifestyle topics.

The Dangerous Misinformation About Transitioning:

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LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

New study: 1 in 3 gay, lesbian, & bi youths having trouble sleeping

In the overall study only 13.5% of straight-identifying adolescents self-reported trouble falling or staying asleep



Raoul Casey (Photo by Harrison J. Bahe)

BETHESDA, Md. – A study published last month by the National Library of Medicine and online LGBT Health magazine revealed that sexual minority status may be linked to sleep disturbance in early adolescence.

The study sample was 8,563 adolescents 10- to 14-years-old, of which 4.4% identified as sexual minority individuals. Sexual minority status was associated with self-reported trouble falling or staying asleep with 35.1% or 1 in 3 self-reported trouble falling or staying asleep. The purpose of the study was to examine associations between sexual minority status (e.g., gay, lesbian, or bisexual) and sleep problems in a demographically diverse, national sample of U.S. early adolescents.

In the overall study only 13.5% of straight-identifying adolescents self-reported trouble falling or staying asleep.

30.8% of questioning youths — those who answered “maybe” to being gay, lesbian or bisexual — reported problems with getting a full night’s rest.

“Sleep is incredibly important for a teenager’s health,” said lead author Jason M. Nagata, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco to NBC News. “There’s growth spurts and hormonal changes that help you develop normally.”

Nagata and the research team noted that the association between sexual minority status and trouble falling or staying asleep was partially mediated by greater depressive problems, more family conflict, and less parental monitoring, whereas the association between sexual minority status and caregiver-reported sleep disturbance was partially mediated by greater depressive problems, higher stress, and greater family conflict.

The research teams also reported that future research could test interventions to promote family and caregiver acceptance and mental health support for sexual minority youth to improve their sleep and other health outcomes.

Nagata’s team which included Christopher M. Lee, Joanne H. Yang, Orsolya Kiss, Kyle T. Ganson, Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson, Abubakr A.A. Al-shoaibi, and Fiona C. Baker utilized data from the 2018-2020 Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, with focus on LGB youth.

Existing research already points to increased sleep issues among sexual minorities, but Nagata told NBC News he believes this is the first time gay, lesbian and bisexual youths have been the focus. 

“This is such a volatile period, both physically and mentally,” he said. “Teens are particularly vulnerable to the opinions of their peers, so it’s a high-risk group for mental health problems and suicide.”

Further research could illuminate other factors fueling sleep disorders among queer youths, he said. 

“LGB kids experience more substance use than their peers, for example, which can alter sleep cycles and impair sleep,” he said.

Co-author Kyle T. Ganson, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, pointed out that parents can also help by being actively involved in their children’s lives and supportive of their identities and any feelings they may be exploring.

“Adolescent development is a challenging time for many given the social pressures and physical, psychological and emotional changes that occur,” Ganson told NBC News in a statement. “Understanding this process and being present to support it is crucial for positive health outcomes.”

A 2018 study of adults, published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, covered a sample of about 15,000 participants, most of whom were straight, with 2.1 percent identifying as gay and 1.3 percent identifying as bisexual. The survey had two questions focused on insomnia, with additional questions focused on the stresses the individuals faced.

Amongst respondents, it was LGB people who reported more troubles both falling asleep and staying asleep. Much like other sleep studies, women also reported a higher instance of sleep issues than men.

Likewise, LGB respondents reported higher levels of stress in their lives, in particular stress caused by familial rejection, the Journal reports.

The study suggests that treating insomnia for LGB people may be a useful step in improving health, but does recommend further study.

Proper rest is one of the keys to health and well-being. It is recommended that those between the ages of 18-64 get seven-nine hours of sleep per night.

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LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

Trans community fears wave of retaliatory attacks

Gender affirming care is on the chopping block in 11 states, including — most recently — Iowa and Kentucky



Stella Tice, 22, began her transition 16 months ago. (Photo courtesy of Stella Tice)

By Sunita Sohrabji | PORTLAND, Me. – Physical violence and verbal abuse are the norm for many transgender youths. This week, as news emerges that 28-year Audrey Hale — who killed six people, including three 9-year-old students at Nashville, Tennessee’s Covenant School — was transgender, the LGBTQIA community fears it will be targeted for retaliatory attacks.

Susan Maasch, director of the Trans Youth Equality Foundation in Portland, Maine, told Ethnic Media Services: “We were called yesterday by a man who was screaming at us. ‘What are you going to do with your donations? Are you going to use them to train kids to kill Christian children?’ This was very scary.”

“We’ve got scared children, scared families, scared organizations who are afraid of being targeted, but there’s no support,” she said. Maasch said she called the FBI to report the hateful phone call but could not get past a receptionist. “I will talk to local police, but I’m not sure what will come of that. The response just isn’t there.”

The FBI and the Justice Department did a briefing this week with organizations who support transgender youth, advising them how to keep safe during a possible uptick in violence against the community.

“This is a terrible, scary, and intimidating time for transgender people and their loved ones,” said Maasch. “The fact that this shooter was transgender is going to be used and abused by politicians and others.”

She noted the current climate of hostility in many states, which are demonizing trans individuals via legislation and rhetoric. “These are right-wing attacks by uninformed people. There’s a sense of going backwards.”

Kids in red states are having a particularly rough time, said Maasch, noting that few resources are available to them.

Maasch spoke of the need for gender affirming care, noting there is no cure for body dysphoria. “If you don’t treat, that’s when you get into danger. Some children go dark when you try to will away their gender. They begin to lose hope, and become depressed and anxious.”

Gender affirming care is on the chopping block in 11 states, including — most recently — Iowa and Kentucky. Other states which ban gender affirming care for minors include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

The US Department of Health and Human Services defines gender affirming care as patient-centered treatment which aligns individuals’ outward, physical traits with their gender identity. “Gender diverse adolescents, in particular, face significant health. disparities compared to their cisgender peers,” notes HHS.

Maasch encouraged children who are struggling with gender identity to reach out to her organization TYEF or The Trevor Project, which has a good track record of supporting transgender youth. Trusted individuals, including older siblings or an aunt, can also be a source of support, she said.

Physical violence is the norm for many transgender youth. Last June, a transgender student in Kalama, Washington was kicked repeatedly by another student wearing steel-toed boots, and had to be hospitalized. A transgender teen in Pompano Beach, Florida has been savagely attacked twice. The teen was kicked, beaten and spat upon relentlessly, the first time when they were in 6th grade.

In March, eight students savagely beat a transgender student on a Tulsa, Oklahoma school bus.

Stella Tice spent much of her young life trying to fit into the norms of the gender to which she was assigned at birth.

“I always felt I was different from everyone else,” Tice, 22, told EMS. “The early stages of dysphoria hit especially hard during puberty. I didn’t have any language or knowledge to express it,” said Tice, who grew up in rural Klamath Falls, Oregon, and attended church every Sunday with her family, as well as a religious youth group every Wednesday evening.

Tice says she was bullied a lot in school. But she never told high school administrators or even her parents about what she was experiencing. “It made me uncomfortable to share my feelings because I was worried about being ridiculed by my peers.”

About 16 months ago, with the support of her partner, Tice began transitioning into a woman. Telling her parents was initially difficult. “It was a rough start, but they definitely did a lot of learning. I come from a very tight-knit family. And they didn’t want to lose me.”

Tice’s older brother turned out to be one of her strongest supporters. “’Wherever you end up, you have my support 100 percent,’ he told me.”

Tice and her partner live in Eugene, Oregon, which has a large LGBTQIA community, so the young woman was able to access the support she needed during her transitioning process.

Tice urged trans youth to turn to sub-Reditts, Twitch transgender streamers, and TikTok transgender content creators, to get a sense of community and support.

“I know this is a cliche, but it will and does get better,” she said.


Sunita Sohrabji is a contributing editor at Ethnic Media Services.


The preceding article was previously published by Ethnic Media Services and is republished with permission.

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Fentanyl Crisis

Newsom releases master plan for tackling Fentanyl & Opioid crisis

Governor Newsom has invested over $1 billion to tackle the crisis Through CalRx, California will seek to manufacture its own Naloxone



Governor Newsom at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Following a visit to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Governor Gavin Newsom released his administration’s Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis on Monday. 

Recognizing the opioid and fentanyl crisis as a multifaceted public health and public safety issue, Governor Newsom’s Master Plan provides a comprehensive approach to save lives. The Master Plan builds on the Governor’s $1 billion investment to tackle this crisis — including an expansion of California National Guard-supported operations that last year led to a 594% increase in seized fentanyl.

The Master Plan outlines aggressive steps to support overdose prevention efforts, hold the opioid pharmaceutical industry accountable, crack down on drug trafficking, and raise awareness about the dangers of opioids, including fentanyl. 

“Over 150 people die every day in our nation from overdoses and poisonings related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Enough. With this Master Plan, California is doubling down to combat this crisis and save lives. Our comprehensive approach will expand enforcement efforts to crack down on transnational criminal organizations trafficking this poison into our communities — while prioritizing harm reduction strategies to reduce overdoses and compassionately help those struggling with substance use and addiction,” the Governor said.

The Newsom Administration has invested over $1 billion to crack down on opioid trafficking and enforce the law, combat overdoses, support those with opioid use disorder, and raise awareness about the dangers of opioids. The Master Plan provides a comprehensive framework to deepen the impact of these investments — including through a new CalRx effort where California will seek to manufacture its own opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

California will further save lives through an additional $96 million in funding in the Governor’s 2023-24 proposed budget: 

  • $79 million for the Naloxone Distribution Project to meet increased demand and provide more Naloxone to communities than ever before; 
  • $10 million for grants for education, testing, recovery, and support services; 
  • $4 million to make fentanyl test strips more widely available; and 
  • $3.5 million in Prop 98 funding to provide overdose medication to all middle and high schools.

These new investments, coupled with the extensive abatement, enforcement, and treatment efforts outlined in the Master Plan will save lives and make California safer. 

The U.S. has faced an evolving crisis of opioid addiction, overdose, and death for over two decades, driven by Big Pharma’s irresponsible marketing of prescription opioids – bringing the United States to today’s fentanyl crisis.

Millions of Americans suffer from opioid use disorder and more than 71,000 Americans died in 2022 alone from fentanyl-linked overdoses and drug poisonings. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a vast majority of fentanyl in the U.S. comes via ports of entry at the border –  through trafficking by organized crime rings, not by migrants. 

California has worked aggressively to tackle the opioid crisis. In the current fiscal year alone, the California Health and Human Services agency is investing $450 million in treatment, abatement, and prevention efforts.

Governor Newsom joins members of the California National Guard to highlight the Master Plan
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

The 2022 Budget Act Governor Newsom signed into law included $30 million to expand the California Military Department’s existing drug interdiction efforts to thwart drug-trafficking transnational criminal organizations throughout the state, with a particular focus on assisting federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in combatting fentanyl. To support the Governor’s initiative to reduce deadly fentanyl in communities, the California National Guard has hired, trained, and embedded 144 new members. 

View the Master Plan (here).

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