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Transgender people face discrimination in Asia, Pacific

Published : 26 Dec 2020 09:46 PM | Updated : 27 Dec 2020 12:52 AM

Transgender people face discrimination in many countries in the Asia and the Pacific, despite laws to ensure equal rights of all individuals.

Experts made the comment at the closing session of the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR10) held in 14 sessions for six months, one in every fortnight, virtually.

Dr Chivorn Var, Convener of the APCRSHR10 and the founder Executive Director of Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC), chaired the session co-hosted by the APCRSHR10, and Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and the CNS India.

Dr Saritha Viswan, Population Research Centre, India, while reviewing the transgender issues of India, said despite the ‘Protection of Rights Bill’ ensuring equal rights to all individuals, transgender face discrimination.

“The prevailing gender based discrimination prevents them from obtaining better education and job, rejection from families and forced marriages led them to resort to pitiful conditions including begging and sex work,” she said.

“Many left their families for ill-treatment and not being accepted as transgender. They are undergoing sex reassignment surgery without proper counselling or preparation,” she said.

The suicide rate among transgender individuals in India is about 31 percent, and many have attempted suicide more than once before their 20th birthday. The studies show that HIV prevalence is also highest among the group.

The way forward, she said, is to identify them in schools with the help of teachers, and prevent dropout of schools and equip them to continue education to higher levels.

“Increase community awareness to ensure equal rights access in every phase of life. Family support is very much needed for the children who experience gender conflict at adolescence,” she said.

Trans-woman in Pakistan Sobo Malik is a Chartered Accountant and Administrative and Finance Head in Khawaja Sira Society-a Trans Based and Trans led organisation.

She said limited access to health rights resulting in increased self medication.

Citing their study, she said, all the participants of their study had started intake of hormonal medicines without consulting any doctor or any hormonal test.

“80percent of them were following the same dosage as taken by their other transgender friends, while 20percent had done some research through the internet but never consulted any doctor.

“More than 80 percent reported that they suffered depression and anxiety after the intake of Hormonal medicines within the period of 2 months, and 40 percent also reported severe pain in lower abdomen and testicles. Depression has also led to use of drugs as reported by nearly 40 percent of them and 1 also reported her suicidal attempt.”

“Transgenders are at high risk of mental and physical problems due to lack of awareness and lack of medical facilities in Pakistan,” she said.

Rukhshana Kapali, a rights activist and the first trans-woman in Nepal to apply for legal documentation as 'female', said transgender people cannot easily access education as their cisgender peers.

“I myself have been fighting for a registration number at Tribhuvan University which has denied me enrolment because my educational certificates from school are not congruent with my lived gender. And on the other hand, the institution that issued those certificates has refused to amend them for me,” she said.

“One of the biggest problems for Nepal is that the state thinks that the 5 fixed categories of LGBTI are a subset of 'third gender’, thus completely quashing the understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity & sex characteristics,” she said.

“Forcing transgender men and women as being the 'third gender' is not the establishment of our rights, but the establishment of a violation.”

The APCRSHR10 was themed on different topics ranging from sexual orientation and gender identity, safe abortion, young people, disability, to population ageing, and climate change

About 1,900 participants of 77 countries across the world took part in the conference sessions via zoom platform. The next conference will be held in 2022. The venue will be announced in June 2021, convener Dr Chivorn Var said.