BOSTON, March 22, 2021—Last week, the House of Representatives passed an historic amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (VAWA) establishing a first-ever grant program to support LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, with an emphasis on programs providing support to transgender women who are also Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). The grant program was established through an amendment to the law that was sponsored by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congresswoman Marie Newman (IL-03).
“Fenway Health applauds the leadership shown by Congresswomen Pressley and Newman in championing this bill,” said Ellen LaPointe, Chief Executive Officer of Fenway Health. “Gender-based violence, domestic and intimate partner violence in the LGBTQIA+ community, and maltreatment of transgender women, especially BIPOC women, by law enforcement and/or emergency shelter programs are significant problems that require racially equitable and innovative prevention programming from community-based organizations.”
VAWA was first enacted in 1994. When it was reauthorized in 2013, new language was added to the law to explicitly include people with same-sex partners. The bill passed by the House this week explicitly includes, for the first time, transgender and gender diverse people.
“There were more reported murders of transgender people in 2020 than in any previous year,” said Lauren Kourabas, Program Director of Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program. “Most of those victims were BIPOC women. Sadly, another 11 transgender women have already lost their lives to violence in 2021. This is an urgent crisis requiring immediate and on-going intervention.”
Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program provides free counseling, support groups, advocacy, and referral services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and anti-LGBTQIA+ hate violence. Services are offered in both English and Spanish at four locations: Fenway Health, 1340 Boylston Street, Boston; AIDS Action, 75 Amory St, Roxbury; the Borum at 75 Kneeland St, Boston; and at regional offices in Western Massachusetts, Fall River, and Cape Cod. To access these services, call 617.927.6250 or 800.834.3242 (toll-free in MA).