AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion opens Out of the Closet thrift store in At­lanta

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

A new Wil­liams In­sti­tute study re­leased Sept. 27 shows that Ge­or­gia’s voter ID laws may cre­ate sub­stan­tial bar­ri­ers to vot­ing and pos­si­ble dis­en­fran­chise­ment for more than 11,000 trans­gen­der vot­ers in Novem­ber.

The study shows that Ge­or­gia has over 29,000 trans­gen­der peo­ple who are el­i­gi­ble to vote, but over 11,000 of them (or 39 per­cent) do not have ac­cu­rate IDs.

Ac­cord­ing to a new study en­ti­tled The Po­ten­tial Im­pact of Voter Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Laws on Trans­gen­der Vot­ers in the 2016 Gen­eral Elec­tion au­thored by Wil­liams In­sti­tute Scholar Jody L. Her­man, Ph.D., many trans­gen­der peo­ple who have tran­si­tioned do not have iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that ac­cu­rately re­flects their cor­rect gen­der.

“Law­mak­ers and elec­tion of­fi­cials should not over­look the im­pact on trans­gen­der vot­ers when en­act­ing vot­ing re­stric­tions based on iden­tity doc­u­ments,” said Wil­liams In­sti­tute Scholar Jody L. Her­man, the study’s author. “Voter ID laws im­pact many ci­ti­zens who would oth­er­wise be el­i­gi­ble to vote. Trans­gen­der peo­ple have unique, and some­times in­sur­mount­able, bur­dens to ob­tain­ing ac­cu­rate IDs for vot­ing in states that re­quire it.”

In or­der for these vot­ing-el­i­gi­ble trans­gen­der peo­ple to ob­tain the ac­cu­rate IDs for vot­ing, they must com­ply with the state and fed­eral re­quire­ments for up­dat­ing IDs, which can be dif­fi­cult and costly to meet.

“Leg­is­la­tors, elec­tion of­fi­cials, and poll work­ers should work to en­sure equal ac­cess to the bal­lot for trans­gen­der vot­ers, who have a dis­parate bur­den un­der voter ID laws,” Her­man said.

Out of the Closet, the AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion’s (AHF) chain of thrift shops that also serve as HIV test­ing cen­ters and pharma- cies, of­fi­cially opened their At­lanta store on Cheshire Bridge Road on Sept. 17. This is the 20th Out of the Closet lo­ca­tion na­tion­wide.

The open­ing was marked by a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony that in­cluded high-pro­file mem­bers of AHF, in­clud­ing AHF Pres­i­dent Michael We­in­stein, as ap­prox­i­mately 50 peo­ple waited for the store to of­fi­cially open its doors.

Be­fore the red rib­bon cut­ting, dif­fer­ent mem­bers of the store’s team and AHF spoke briefly to the crowd. Among them was As­so­ciate Direc­tor of Test­ing Gregory Jac­ques, who talked about the im­por­tance of HIV test­ing at the store. Jac­ques noted that test­ing will be avail­able with no ap­point­ments nec­es­sary Tues­day through Satur­day dur­ing store hours.

Ac­cord­ing to AHF, 96 cents of ev­ery dol­lar the or­ga­ni­za­tion earns through out­lets like Out of the Closet and the AHF Phar­macy go di­rectly to­ward pa­tient care. Out of the Closet’s phar­macy is part of the broader AHF Phar­macy network, which has a sep­a­rate metro At­lanta lo­ca­tion in Litho­nia.

Last year’s an­nounce­ment about the open­ing of the thrift store was met with crit­i­cism by some in At­lanta’s LGBT com­mu­nity, who disagree with AHF’s stance on PrEP. AID At­lanta be­came an af­fil­i­ate of AHF last June, cit­ing “sig­nif­i­cant debt” as the rea­son. An end-of-year au­di­tor’s re­port from 2014 showed the agency nearly $1 mil­lion in debt.

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