Reclaim Pride Coalition, organizers of the 3rd annual “no cops, no corporations, no politicians” Queer Liberation March (QLM), will provide COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of attendees at this year’s March.

In recognition of the barriers that many poor and working class New Yorkers experience in accessing COVID-19 testing and vaccines, March organizers and ACT UP NY (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) are working with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to provide vaccines at both the start and end points of this year's March. 

"Historically, the LGBTQIA2S+ community, especially those of us who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, particularly our siblings who are queer and trans people of color, are disproportionately impacted by severe health disparaties in our community, which overwhelmingly contributes to barriers faced in accessing affirming healthcare," said Christian Molieri of Reclaim Pride.

"As is in our historical lineage, we refuse to remain silent and allow dominant culture to instruct us to wait on the sidelines. We queer, trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming individuals do not have that luxury."

For weeks, AIDS activists from Reclaim Pride Coalition member group ACT UP have demanded that DOHMH provide replacement services outside the closed clinics five days a week in the form of trucks that can test for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as offer sexual and reproductive health counseling.

“Over the past year, because of COVID, many people were forced to cancel or delay their regular health screenings, so now there is a giant backlog of HIV tests,” said Brandon Cuicchi of ACT UP.  “Instead of closing sexual health clinics and emphasizing COVID-19 vaccination at the expense of sexual health, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s strategy for vaccination must include fighting HIV and promoting sexual health.”

For June 27, LGBTQ+ and AIDS activists from ACT UP have coordinated multiple vaccine stations at Bryant Park for the start of the march and for a radical health fair dubbed “ACT UP For Health” at the end of the march along Thompson Street below Washington Square Park. “ACT UP For Health” will include more vaccine stations, HIV testing and counseling, PrEP, resources for LGBTQ+-affirming healthcare and mental health, “Joints For Jabs,” and more.

“ACT UP For Health” will host the third “Joints For Jabs” event in New York City after the huge success of their last two events, where over 1000 marijuana joints were distributed to people over 21 showing proof of vaccination. This is the first time vaccination will be offered alongside a “Joints For Jabs” event in New York City, and organizers hope that the chance for a free joint will encourage young people over 21, especially LGBTQ+ and those more marginalized, to show up and be vaccinated on site.

Joints For Jabs 3” is the realization of the dream we had from the beginning to offer COVID vaccines alongside marijuana joints. For people with HIV, marijuana has served as medicine since the early days of the AIDS epidemic, so it made perfect sense for ACT UP to host “Joints For Jabs” at the Queer Liberation March.

Kellen Gold, ACT UP

To receive their complimentary joint, participants must show proof of vaccination, which can be administered on site, and be over the age of 21.

WHAT: ACT UP For Health

WHEN: Sun, June 27, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. ET

WHERE: Thompson St. below Washington Square Park

WHO: Treatment Action Group + ACT UP NY + Housing Works + More

EVENT: /a>

TRAINS: A, B, C, D, E, F, M to W 4th St.; R, W to 8th St.

**Please wear a mask at this event**

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

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LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

The Dobbs decision, otherwise known as the court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, has resulted in confusing medical situations for many patients. On top of affecting access to abortions for straight, cisgender women, it presents heightened risks for LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole. Flipping the switch on reproductive rights and privacy rights is a far-reaching act that makes quality care harder to find for an already underserved community.

As the fight against the Dobbs decision continues, it’s important to shed light on the full breadth of its impact. We’ll discuss specific ways that the decision can affect LGBTQ+ healthcare and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.

How the Right to Bodily Privacy Affects LGBTQ+ Healthcare

When the original Roe v. Wade decision was made, the bodily privacy of people across the United States was protected. Now that bodily autonomy is no longer guaranteed, the LGBTQ+ community must brace itself for a potential loss of healthcare rights beyond abortions. This includes services like feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy (particularly for transgender youth) that conservative lawmakers have been fighting against this year, as well as transition-related procedures. Without privacy, gender-affirming care may be difficult to access without documentation of sex as “proof” of gender.

As essential services for the LGBTQ+ community become more difficult to access, perhaps the most immediate effect we’ll see is eroding trust between healthcare providers and LGBTQ+ patients. When providers aren’t working in the best interest of patients — just like in cases of children and rape victims denied abortions — patients may further avoid preventative care in a community that already faces discrimination in doctor’s offices.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

While the Dobbs decision is often framed as a women's issue — specifically, one that affects cisgender women — it impacts the transgender and non-binary community just as much. All people who are capable of carrying a pregnancy to term have lost at least some ability to choose whether or not to give birth in the U.S.

For transgender and non-binary individuals, this decision comes with the added complexity of body dysmorphia. Without abortion rights, pregnant trans men and some non-binary people may be forced to see their bodies change, and be treated as women by healthcare providers and society as a result.

The Dobbs decision also opens up the possibility for government bodies to determine when life begins — and perhaps even to add legal protections for zygotes and embryos. This puts contraceptives at risk, which could make it more difficult to access gender-affirming care while getting the right contraceptives based on sex for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overturning Reproductive Rights Puts IVF at Risk

Queer couples that dream of having their own children often have limited options beyond adoption. One such option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves implanting a fertilized egg into a uterus.

While IVF isn’t directly affected by the Dobbs decision, it could fall into a legal gray area depending on when states determine that life begins. Texas, for example, is already barring abortions as early as six weeks. To reduce embryo destruction, which often occurs when patients no longer want more children, limits could be placed on the number of eggs that can be frozen at once.

Any restrictions on IVF will also affect the availability of surrogacy as an option for building a family.

How Can LGBTQ+ Individuals Overcome Healthcare Barriers?

While the Dobbs decision may primarily impact abortion rights today, its potential to worsen LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole is jarring. So how can the community be prepared?

If you’re struggling to find LGBTQ+-friendly providers near you, using telemedicine now can be an incredibly effective way to start developing strong relationships with far-away healthcare professionals. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of geography and can be especially helpful for accessing inclusive primary care and therapy. Be sure to check if your insurance provider covers telemedicine.

If you’re seriously concerned about healthcare access in your area — especially if the Dobbs decision affects your whole state or you need regular in-person services that may be at risk — it may be time to consider moving now. While not everyone has the privilege to do so, relocating gives you the ability to settle in areas where lawmakers better serve your needs. However, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so preparing and making progress on a moving checklist now can help you avoid issues later.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t LGBTQ+-Friendly

The Supreme Court of the United States has proven the power of its conservative majority with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the effects of the Dobbs decision don’t stop at affecting cisgender women’s abortion rights. In states with bans, it also leads to forced birth for trans men and non-binary individuals. Plus, the Dobbs decision increases the risk of other rights, like hormone therapy and IVF, being taken away.

Taking steps now, whether it’s choosing a virtual provider or considering a move, can help you improve your healthcare situation in the future.