March 18, 2010 at 10:01 am EDT | by Joshua Lynsen
Local news in brief

HIV org moves into ‘Real World’ house

One of the nation’s largest HIV non-profit organizations is taking over the Dupont Circle home used for filming MTV’s “Real World D.C.”

HealthHIV is leasing the property at 2000 S St., N.W. and will use it to house its 20-person staff, which works to advance effective prevention, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS or who are at risk of contracting the disease.

“It is a highly recognizable location that allows us to raise public awareness of HIV in Washington and nationwide,” Brian Hujdich, HealthHIV’s executive director, said in a statement.

“As a non-profit, our move made sense since we have a favorable lease which allows us to repurpose materials from the ‘Real World D.C.’ and use the space as not only an office, but as a community center and a modest studio for taping web-based trainings.”

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. That number includes 15,120 people in D.C. — a total that represents 3 percent of the city’s population.


Arrest made in trans bias assaults

The D.C. police department’s Gay & Lesbian and Latino liaison units joined forces last week to assist in the arrest of a male suspect who reportedly used a metal pipe to assault two Latino transgender people, according to Sgt. Carlos Mejia, who heads both units.

“The investigation further revealed that the suspect attacked the complainants because of their gender identity,” Mejia said in a statement. “One of the [victims] sustained injuries from the attack and received medical treatment.”

He said the suspect, who was not identified in the statement, was arrested on the scene and charged with bias-related assault with a dangerous weapon, an offense considered a hate crime under city law. The alleged incident occurred March 13 near 14th and Shepherd streets, N.W.

Mejia did not disclose in his statement whether the transgender victims were male or female.


Equality Maryland names trans field organizer

Equality Maryland announced March 15 the appointment of Owen Smith as its new field organizer for transgender equality issues.

A resident of Baltimore, Smith comes to Equality Maryland with experience in both teaching and advocating on behalf of the transgender community. He will work with the Equality Maryland staff to develop programming and policy efforts to meet the needs of Maryland’s transgender community.

“Owen has been involved in transgender activism and gender justice work in Maryland for many years,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Equality Maryland’s executive director. “We are confident that Owen will be a valuable asset in our work to ensure that all Marylanders are treated equally under the law.”

Among the tasks Smith is slated to help with are coordinating grassroots efforts in Annapolis, developing a speaker’s bureau and continuing coalition work within the areas of homelessness and poverty work.

“I am passionate about celebrating and sustaining gender justice and equality,” Smith said. “I am also interested in examining the intersection of gender, race and sexual orientation to make connections within all social justice communities.”

Smith comes to Equality Maryland with advocacy experience. He has testified in the Maryland House of Delegates and Maryland Senate regarding discrimination based on gender identity, and was part of efforts that halted a planned change regarding gender markers on state driver’s licenses.


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