One of those women Chung wants you to keep in mind is Tommy Luckett. “In the HIV sphere, where voices of trans women living with HIV are most underrepresented, I am inspired by emerging leaders like Tommy,” Chung says. “She brings a trans woman of color perspective from the southern states and a personal story that reflects the current landscape of the epidemic.”
“My role can best be described as an agitator,” Luckett told My Fabulous Disease blogger Mark S. King, who chose Luckett for his “15 HIV Advocates to Watch in 2015” list. She’s shaking up Arkansas, where Luckett sits on the board of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition and the state health department’s Quality Care Advisory Board.
“I was in a relationship when I contracted HIV from my partner,” Luckett told King, hoping to dispel the common misconception that all trans women with HIV got the virus from risky behaviors like sex work.
Still, she acknowledged sex work and HIV are risks for trans women. “In order to have shelter, some trans women are forced into sex work. Being caught with a certain number of condoms is against the law in some states. In essence, the laws are contributing to the spike of HIV cases in the transgender community.”
Luckett’s influence has grown as she’s made her voice heard: at the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; at the HIV Is Not a Crime Conference; at AIDS Watch 2014 in Washington, D.C.; at the National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV; as keynote speaker at the first LGBT Summit in Fayetteville, Ark.; and on the U.S. People Living With HIV Caucus Steering Committee.
“Tommy is a powerful and effective transgender woman demonstrating courage and leadership in Arkansas, with a nationwide reach inspiring and educating others,” says Misrok.