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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3201.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 12:45 PM

Abstract #105295

Gender identity and HIV risk behaviors among African American male-to-female (MTF) transgenders in Oakland, CA

JoAnne Keatley, MSW1, Tooru Nemoto, PhD2, Jeanne Sevelius, PhD2, Ari Rinzler1, Jennifer Usher1, Andrea Horne1, and Shakira Garr1. (1) Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, 1145 Bush Street, Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 476-2364, jkeatley@psg.ucsf.edu, (2) Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of Califonia, San Francisco, 74 New Montgomery St., Suite 250, San Francisco, CA 94105

Background: Transgender people are among the most stigmatized groups in modern society due to their non-conventional gender identities. African American male-to-female (MTF) transgenders face additional racial and cultural issues concerning gender identity. Consequently, African American MTF transgenders are highly vulnerable to mental health concerns such as negative self-image, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse, all of which leads to heightened HIV risk behavior.

Methods: This qualitative study investigated the relationship between race, gender identity, and mental health concerns, which in turn contribute to high risk sexual and drug behaviors. Two focus groups were conducted with 23 African American MTFs in Oakland, California. The average age was 34, ranging between 19 and 52 years. Participants represented a range of education levels (32 % had less than a high school degree, 68 % graduated from high school, and 41% had some education beyond high school). Most (82%) participants had a history of exchanging sex for drugs or money to buy drugs.

Results: This study revealed that the most pressing issues facing African American MTF transgenders are lack of access to employment, lack of transgender specific medical care, social isolation, and difficult interpersonal relationships, including abusive partners. These factors contribute to a destructive cycle of sex work and drug use, often mentioned as the primary concern in these women's lives.

Conclusion: Efforts must be made to develop transgender specific support groups, medical care, and treatment services that consider the unique needs of the African American MTF transgender community.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Gender, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Transgender Health

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA