The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium held on February 14-18, 2014 in Anantara Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand offered a number of fora presenting several pressing issues of transgender people. It gathered from around the globe medical practitioners, academe, researchers, UN Agencies, government, human rights advocates and transgender women and transgender men to discuss medical developments on Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), health services and its accessibility, proposed amendments to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of World Health Association (WHO), among others.
The whole-week affair was divided into three main groups of discussion.
The Surgery Sessions were where the surgeons and cosmetologists share breakthroughs on international science and medicine from sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), urethral reconstruction, implantations, voice feminization surgeries, among others. Seeing a number of doctors in one room is just so overwhelming. I may not really grasp the entire discussions on surgery, its methodologies and pathologies, but they lead to the development of transgender people’s well-being.
The Abstract Sessions were opportunities for academies, researchers, advocates and even doctors themselves to present their useful studies to a wider audience. As I see it from the program, some of these abstract reflect on the mental wellness of the transgender people, particularly on the children. Some of them have the ethical issues of medical practitioners as inspirations for the study. Other presentations were about new sciences in surgeries.
The Mini-Symposia were the avenues to openly discuss and provide recommendations to the remaining broader issues of the transgender community including medical science, human rights, health care and services, depathologization of transgender people, to recommended revisions of ICD 11.
Few of the sessions I attended were about the legal, cultural, and social barriers of Transgender People in Asia and the Pacific in enjoying their human rights and accessing health services. India, Nepal, Thailand and Philippines presented that transgender people are still minorities. They are underrepresented and their call remains unheard. Although there were some notable signs of progress in these countries, there is still a limitation to health services to transgender people particularly to hormone services and HIV treatment. What surprised me was the presentation of the Transgender woman from Japan who showed that, although her country is rich, there are no budget allocations from the government to transgender programs. She even spent her personal money to attend the WPATH.
As a human rights advocate, attending the global symposium is not only a learning experience about the transgender issues, but also an inspiring opportunity to meet the transgender people and speak with their person. The symposium was a medium for every attendee to hear the hard facts about what the transgender people are facing and how they are living their lives in their respective countries.
In the transgender advocacy, the issues are vast. It expanded to technical issues pertaining to the de-pathologization of gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria, to the equality of enjoyment of human rights to dignity and physical security, to medical advances of sexual reassignment surgery. All these issues are gauged to arrive at an equal point that is equality.
This reflection piece is written by Senior Advocacy Officer Inad Rendon.