On April 22, 2015, the City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator’s Office conducted a focus group as part of a formative process for identifying health, sexual health and HIV risk, and social determinants of health of transmasculine individuals in Los Angeles. The findings from this focus group informed the development of a pilot research study in partnership with UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Gender Justice LA and the AIDS Coordinator's Office.
At that time, the results of the focus group revealed the need for a visibility campaign so that transmasculine individuals could see more people “like us” in the community. Another area of need was the lack of awareness of culturally competent resources for dealing with a variety of health, social support, sexual health, and other needs. The AIDS Coordinator’s Office recognized that the results from a long-term study would likely not translate into a change or increase in services in the near term and embarked on supporting efforts to meet some of the stated needs of the community, as relayed in the initial focus group.
In November 2015, the AIDS Coordinator’s Office, Gender Justice LA, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Kingmakerz Consulting conducted a second focus group to develop a social media campaign and #TMHealthLA was born. #TMHealthLA (Trans-Masculine Health Los Angeles) is a community-driven visibility and social marketing campaign to raise awareness of health issues among transmasculine individuals in the City of Los Angeles. The campaign includes online and print materials, and an online resource directory and online community at www.tmhealthla.org.
The aim of the #TMHealthLA photography exhibit is to display a diverse community with iconic images of the Los Angeles cityscape, as well as the homes and neighborhoods that transmasculine individuals proudly reside in. The partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library is important, as it draws people from all walks of life and offers a space to educate the general public on transmasculinity and heighten the sensitivity to the experience of transmasculine individuals living in the City of Los Angeles. With the rise in anti-LGBT legislation across the country, promoting understanding and inclusivity in the City of Los Angeles will offer a new narrative, one that demonstrates that the City is committed to diversity and inclusion of all residents.
The AIDS Coordinator’s Office is currently funding a research study on the health, sexual health, and mental health needs of transmasculine individuals in the City of Los Angeles, which to date, is the first of its kind.