No Matter What Gender You Choose to Be, We Can All Stand up and Fight for Human Rights

Tim Hinkhouse
Tim Hinkhouse

Hello there readers: I was listening to the local rock station this past week, enjoying classic rock music. There was a break in the music, and this was said: "President Trump wants to hire an elite group of people to fight violent criminals. I don't think anyone has told the president that the Avengers are not real!" As you might be able to tell by reading my blog, I am a liberal all the way.

Here is a great reason I'm not a Republican: Recently our newly elected president rolled back federal protections for transgender people. That upsets me! Since when is it OK for anyone to discriminate against people who are already fighting inner personal struggles? Why would people take away the rights of other human beings who need more support than people not struggling with gender identity issues? I can't get behind taking away the rights of our trans brothers and sisters. Can you?

As an HIV-positive man, I am in my own minority group, and I have faced all forms of discrimination. I would join the revolution if Trump were to take away the federal protections of HIV-positive people under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The challenges faced by our transgender family, in addition to having HIV, just has to be the absolute worst mental suffering.

One of my friends from the early 2000s while I was living in the Oregon State Penitentiary was a transgender female. Not only was she transgender, but she also had HIV and hepatitis C. I remember her telling me stories about the rejection she faced from her family, which had kicked her into the streets as a young person. The stories were horrific, and the tears were real.

I became emotional listening to her pain while telling me about how she had to trade her body for food and shelter and to support her drug habit. She told me that a man with HIV had raped her repeatedly while holding her hostage for weeks. That is how she eventually tested positive for HIV. Right at that point in my life, I took a good hard look at myself and what I had done that took me to prison, the people I've hurt, and why I made those choices.

What a careless human being I had been for not disclosing my HIV status to my sex partners. My blatant disregard for them by putting their lives at risk and exposing them to the HIV virus was what a monster would have done. Was I a person who deserved forgiveness from those I've hurt? Thank God, none of my sexual partners named on the indictment ever tested positive for HIV, which is still no excuse for what I've done. I am not the same person I was then. That person has transitioned into the man I am now, who can stand with his held up high and be a person who has integrity.

Last year my trans friend's obituary was in the newspaper, telling the readers about all the good things she did before she was laid to rest. I hope that she is resting in peace and can see all the hard work being put into fighting for the rights of transgender people. I stand with all of my trans brothers and sisters in the fight against discrimination, no matter whether it is from our own government, friends, family or people who just hate because they don't understand you.

Millions of people not infected with HIV early on walked in marches around the globe to protect me and my rights as an HIV-positive person. There were protesters who weren't even affected directly by the HIV virus, yet they banned together to fight for all of us! I am affected by this fight in many ways because I have lost people who were close to me and also were transgendered. Whether they passed on because of AIDS or lost their lives to someone who decided that their lives didn't matter, I will never forget them. My trans brothers and sisters reading this, you have my loyalty and support! I will fight for you and what is right! That is what being an activist is all about. You don't have to be a liberal, conservative or anything political to do what's right. We can all stand up and fight for human rights no matter what gender you choose to be.

I would like to direct your attention to the brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community who need advocacy for things they are going through while incarcerated. Please visit and support the organization called Black and Pink located in Dorchester, Massachusetts. You can find them online.

Incarcerated LGBTQ members are dealing with issues such as discrimination for being HIV positive or just being themselves. Imagine living in a hate-filled environment where, because you are different, you could become a victim if you don't stand up for yourself or have people standing with you. I knew what that was like at one time early on in my prison sentence. That was a very lonely time in my life, and it's a wonder that I didn't kill myself or someone else in those days.

Thanks for listening to me. I am grateful for your time reading my words. I hope that someone is inspired to help.

Stay healthy and stay safe.

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Read Tim's blog, HIV on the Inside.