Black feminist, activist, and HIV advocate Tranisha Arzah is a true inspiration, which is why she's one of The Advocate's Champions of Pride.
Though her life didn’t necessarily start out easy, she has not only persevered — but triumphed. Born HIV-positive to a parent struggling with addiction in Seattle, Wash., Arzah experienced much trauma and heartache in her younger years, including the deaths of her mother and brother, and separation from her family into foster care. Arzah was eventually adopted by a foster parent, and her father fortunately overcame his battle with addiction and remains in her life today.
Now 28, Arzah keeps herself busy these days studying community health and education, with an emphasis on social justice, at Seattle Central College. For the past five years, she’s worked for BABES Network, a support program for women living with HIV, and is board member of Positive Women's Network-USA. Arzah also recently received the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship, awarded by the National AIDS Memorial.
“As someone who has been living with HIV since birth,” she says, “it’s been what has propelled me to educate and organize spaces in which we can talk about what it means to live with HIV—and how HIV impacts everyone. I am always willing to speak about the intersectional issues impacting HIV, especially from the viewpoint of someone who is a long-term survivor and someone who was a young person living with this manageable chronic condition.”
For fun, Arzah enjoys “traveling, going to queer variety [and] drag shows, and watching movies.” Future goals include traveling Europe, moving to New Orleans, and to “fluently know a different language, preferably Spanish.”
“I feel very honored to be recognized in this capacity. I’ve never been called a champion before! I don’t always feel like one honestly because even champions of something are just like anyone else, who are learning and continue to learn from the champions in their communities…. As someone who holds intersectional marginalized identities, I saw no other way to help myself then to help others like myself and educate folx who hold more privileged, who may not comprehend or see the various difficulties communities often go through.”