CHOICES Memphis Receives New Grant

Campaign for Southern Equality to Promote Pioneering LGBTQ Health Equity Programs

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The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) has awarded $30,000 in community grants focused on transforming the landscape of LGBTQ health equity in the South. Grants have been awarded to organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, which is based in Memphis and provide reproductive health services, including transgender health care in the mid-South, received a $5,000 grant.

This infusion of funding to organizations on the leading edge of serving LGBTQ Southerners is designed to support new models in the South that increase access to care and ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect in health care settings. More than one third of all LGBTQ Americans live in the South, and LGBTQ Southerners experience disproportionate health disparities. The South is the epicenter of the modern HIV crisis in the United States, particularly for transgender women of color and black men who have sex with men. Transgender and nonbinary Southerners are frequently confronted with ignorance or discrimination while seeking care. And LGBTQ Southerners in rural areas sometimes must drive long distances to identify an affirming physician or mental health provider.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said today: “Health care is a human right that is fundamental to being able to survive and thrive. We are honored to support these four incredible organizations, which are using innovation and grit to create new models to help Southern LGBTQ people access the care they need and deserve. This funding round is about reaching someone with the HIV test or life-saving information that they need right now, and it’s also about creating models that can be replicated across the South in the longer-term. At the Campaign for Southern Equality, we are working each day to create a South where LGBTQ Southerners can get the care they need in their hometowns.”

“CHOICES currently provides healthcare to almost 200 transgender patients in the mid-south region,” said Kathryn M. Leopard, CHOICES’ assistant director. “These patients come to CHOICES for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and general sexual/reproductive wellness care. With funds from the Southern Equality Fund, CHOICES is excited to work with our local partner to provide free STI testing and linkage to care for LGBTQ persons in Memphis.”

The other recipients of grants during this funding round are Gender Benders in Greenville, SC; Western NC Community Health Services in Asheville, NC; and Nationz Foundation in Richmond, VA. Learn more about all of the grants.

This funding round is part of CSE’s Southern Equality Fund, through which CSE distributes 10% of its annual budget to support LGBTQ grassroots organizers and direct service providers who work with LGBTQ Southerners. Total grant-making for 2019 will exceed $80,000.

“It’s out of the box for a non-profit to give out money,” CSE’s Beach-Ferrara said. “But that’s exactly the point: We need new strategies for moving funding and resources to people and places on the front lines of transforming the South, especially those who face structural barriers to funding their work. We believe that moving money is a critical strategy in Southern organizing.”

Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality works for full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.