We all know the Biden administration prides itself on its many firsts since the 2020 election, and Tori Cooper is the latest addition to the most diverse government in history.
According to NBC, Cooper is the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative with 30 years of experience in elevating the needs of her community. She began her work as an advocate in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program called Sister to Sister.
The presidential council was created in 1995 to advise federal policy makers in the prevention, effective treatment, and cure of HIV/AIDS. Since its creation, she is the first out Black trans woman to be appointed to the council. She was sworn in on August 4.
From NBC News,
A 2016 report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS found that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV.
In the U.S. specifically, the CDC found that there are racial disparities among trans women who live with HIV. One CDC study of HIV prevalence among trans women in seven U.S. cities from 2019 to 2020 found that 62 percent of Black trans women were living with HIV, while 25 percent of Hispanic/Latina trans women and 17 percent of white transgender women had HIV.
And when it comes to HIV/AIDS, Black transgender women are at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV.
With her new role, Cooper plans to address the many policy disparities that allow for the wellbeing of many trans women to fall through the cracks, and access to proper gender affirming and trans-competent healthcare is one of them. “Cisgender women don’t need prostate exams; trans women do. Cisgender men don’t need gynecological care; trans men do. And so, true HIV health care — through comprehensive and inclusive health care — includes all of those, and there are a number of different ways to get to that,” she said, according to NBC News.
In the Human Rights Campaign’s announcement, Cooper made this statement:
I could not be more proud to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. We are honored and excited that the Biden-Harris Administration is recognizing the importance of including transgender people, especially Black transgender women, in this life-saving work. I am eager to advocate on behalf of all transgender and non-binary people, including all trans and non-binary people who are living with HIV. This work has never been more critical, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on PACHA to help bring an end to the HIV epidemic.