D'Jamel Young, HVTN Community Ambassador, MOSAICO Study Protocol Team Member, CAB member
Emory – Hope Clinic CRS Atlanta, GA, USA
Meet D'Jamel Young, Army Veteran, Trans* Community Leader/Activist/Advocate, founder of Transl8tion, The TMSM View, and #iamMSM2 movement. D'Jamel is a driven and outspoken "man of Trans* experience,” also known as a transman, who has deep compassion and passion for serving his under-represented Trans* and gender non-conforming (GNC) community.
D'Jamel's mission is to reach, educate, empower and assist his underserved community, which is a population at high risk for HIV/AIDS and other health disparities, as well as high numbers of people living with HIV. By providing and/or referring people to comprehensive support services, D'Jamel strives to assist people in taking control of their lives and making sound health decisions. His goal is to contribute to the ultimate eradication of the HIV virus.
For over 10 years as a peer educator, D'Jamel has built his list of community affiliations and community engagements. He is currently a Member Leader for Trans(forming), an intergenerational membership-based organization in metropolitan Atlanta, led by and for trans*, intersex, and gender non-conforming people of color, who were assigned female at birth (AFAB). He assists with providing services like providing assistance with and payment for name changes and document change projects, passport assistance, facilitation of support groups, connections to doctors and other medical professionals, the prison project, as well as connecting people with leadership and volunteer opportunities. In addition, D'Jamel is an Atlanta Community Advisory Board (CAB) member at an HVTN site, and has numerous affiliations with allied community-based organizations along the east coast of the US. He has also teamed up with agencies, such as Fulton County Health Department, in efforts to initiate conversations around the sexual health risks and needs of men of trans* experience.
D'Jamel's work as a committed advocate has expanded and ventured off into a more social approach to support. In 2015, he launched www.Transl8tion.us , a social-mingle, online community for trans*-identified individuals to search, meet and engage other trans* individuals, and also their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Straight Identified (cisgender) Admirers. Transl8tion’s mission is to provide the LGBT community a judgement-free space, and freedom to express, explore and redefine self-identified sexualities and attractions with a sex-positive attitude. Transl8tion promotes the message of embracing gender identity and sexual identity as two completely separate expressions, and that both can be quite fluid. (Gender identity is how one perceives and presents themselves, while sexuality is one’s sexual preferences). Transl8tion is currently in preparation for phase 2, as D'Jamel is planning and raising money to launch a new and revamped Transl8tion program.
In addition to promoting sexual fluidity, D'Jamel expresses the significance of addressing and stressing the importance of good health and wellness, sexual risk factors, health needs, and available services within the LGBT community. While the trans* community is continuously and disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, AFAB individuals in particular tend to be dismissed and are excluded from most conversations, services and care pertaining to HIV prevention and treatment. As an openly bisexual transman, D’Jamel aspires to lead the conversations to build understanding that sexual identity, desire, and behavior among transmen who have sex with men (TMSM) have the same risk factors as MSM (Men who have Sex with Men). Birthed from the acronym MSM, #iamMSM2 is a hashtag movement that D’Jamel has created to promote inclusion of gay and bisexual transmen’s sexual and health needs. This hashtag describes the large number of TransMen (also including those individuals who identify as gender non-conforming) who have sex with men. These men have the same sexual and health risk factors as cisgender MSM, but are often left out of the HIV care and prevention conversation. The MSM demographic continues to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV in the United States. D’Jamel says, “If transmen are a part of the gay and bisexual community, then there is no question why there is an urgent need to expand access to comprehensive HIV care and proven prevention programs for gay and bisexual transmen.” #iamMSM2's mission is to raise awareness among the CDC, state and federal agencies, CBOs and LGBTQ communities in efforts to educate, support, encourage, and expand access to HIV prevention programs for gay and bisexual transmen. As a continuing effort to support and raise awareness of the sexual and health needs of gay and bisexual transmen, D’Jamel has also created a support group called “The TMSM View”, where gay and bisexual transmen, and other gender non-conforming individuals, are celebrated and offered a safe, judgement-free space to share, confide, and consult with other guys of similar gay and/or bisexual experiences.
All of D’Jamel’s work is inspired by the community he lives in. He has a strong passion to scream for the voiceless and illuminate for the invisible. The trans* and gender non-conforming communities are sadly under-represented and underserved. D'Jamel states, "As fluid as sexuality is, so is the rapid spread of diseases that everyone is equally prone to." These challenges and disparities are very prominent in his world and in his community. D’Jamel is a firm believer that you should “Be the change you want to see!”
The use of an asterisk with the word trans (trans*) comes from the world of computers, where an asterisk is used to indicate “all.” Trans* can be used to refer to people of all transgender and gender non-conforming identities.