Opinion: Collect COVID-19 data on gender diverse people, reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Health Affairs recently featured two blog posts written by students from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The first blog post, published May 12, 2021, argued that more COVID-19 data is needed on trans and other gender diverse populations. Harvard’s GenderSci Lab has been tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities by sex and gender across 53 U.S. states and territories, and has found that gender-diverse people may be at increased risk of severe outcomes. The study’s author’s included Harvard Chan students Ann Caroline Danielsen, MPH ’21, Mai-Han Trinh, SM ’21, and Dougie Zubizarreta, SM ’22.

They wrote, “Collecting data on how trans and gender-expansive people experience the pandemic, and how these experiences intersect with racial/ethnic health disparities, will provide the foundation for targeted public health interventions that mitigate the impact of the pandemic in these communities.”

A second post published May 14, 2021, called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed in 1994 under the leadership of then-Senator Joe Biden. It was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2019, but the process has stalled.

Authors Allie Liss, MPH ’22, and Zoe Matticks, MPH ’22, described the law’s important role in funding gender-based violence prevention programs and ensuring health services for women who have survived sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

“VAWA’s immediate reauthorization is essential—but it is just one step in comprehensively addressing relationship and sexual violence. These are public health crises, and they need to continue to be a priority for research and action by the public health and health policy communities,” they wrote.