For Black History Month 2020, NCSD is honoring pivotal Black public health leaders and organizations that have made major contributions to the mission of health equity.
This week we are highlighting Evonné Kaho, a trans-spiritual activist and educator from Jackson, Mississippi lovingly known as the Queen Mother of the South for the exceptional work she does to support the health and livelihood of transgender women. According to Positive Women’s Network – USA , “Evonné’s grandmother, Doris, told her all of her life to stand for what she believes in and to not let anyone choose who or what she would be in life.” Evonné has lived up to her grandmother’s words and made fighting for the health and rights for trans people her life’s work.
Trans people in the U.S. face a disproportionate amount of health and socioeconomic disparities – particularly Black trans women. Sadly, in America, trans women of color have a life expectancy of 35 years of age while that of their cisgender counterparts is around 78. Trans people are at a greater risk for HIV and may be at greater risk for STDs. In fact, CDC only recently started collecting HIV data on trans populations and virtually no data exists for STDs. Again, Black populations bear the burden of the HIV epidemic with 44.2 percent of HIV cases in transgender women are among Black trans women. It is likely these disparities also exist for STDs.
Recognizing these inequities and the need for resources for transgender families and those living with HIV/AIDS, Evonné founded Love Me Unlimited for Life, the first Black transgender nonprofit in the state of Mississippi. Dedicated to her client’s and nonprofit’s success, Evonné often pays for the cost of running her organization out of her own pocket. This organization currently serves 82 counties and the central office is located in Hinds County. Since 2016 LMU4L has used a holistic approach for education, advocacy, & support of trans people.
Evonné also serves as a board member for Positively Trans from the Transgender Law Center, is Mississippi State’s Lead for Positive Women’s Network , and serves on the Jackson Medical Mall’s HIV planning Committee. This planning committee is responsible for leading community efforts for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative and serves as a great model for other jurisdiction hoping to include trans voices in this important initiative.
In 2019 at a USCA pre-conference meeting, Evonné served on the #BlackTransLivesMatter panel discussion for Black Women’s Health Imperative #EndingTheEpidemicForWhom. This community engagement meeting gathered Black women whose work focuses on HIV prevention, to center “the community’s key voices…to explore the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV for, by and about Black cis and transgender women.”
Evonné has made an indelible mark on trans heath in Mississippi and beyond. “Over the years, I have become a mother to many in the LGBTQ community… I am thankful that I have been able to serve as a beacon of hope for so many,” she wrote recently.
NCSD encourages you to think about how you can better serve trans communities. We have compiled some resources below.
Part I of our BHM series.