HERO Awards 2023: The Honourees

By September 29, 2023 November 28th, 2023 Regional, What We Do

Transgender Hero
Award Recipient

Lattavanh Sengdala

Laos

I am a transgender woman who was born and lives in Vientiane, Laos. I also have a trans-man brother. Until I met a trans community center that was working on HIV programs in 2007, I never thought of how I can live my life as a trans person before. 

I volunteered for this project, and through this work I met a lot of friends, sisters, mothers and allies of transgender people.  We shared our life experiences, history of our community, how to live stronger as a trans community, and learn from the unexpected experiences, especially from trans sex workers that they face a lot of unexpected situations. 

In 2017, I joined Integrated Biological and Behavioral Survey (IBBS) among MSM/TG in Laos, Mapping Protocol Laos at Vientiane capital for MSM, MSW, TG and TGSW, and I joined the research Being LGBT at work in Laos. 

Currently I am working at the Community Health and Inclusion association (CHIAs) as a Health and Gender Coordinator. I learned a lot from my long journey with my community. I will continue to work for the betterment and change for the Trans community in Laos.

Testvte.org website grand opening

Tell us about your work

From 2022 to now I am working on strengthening LGBT communities to advocate for and promote LGBT rights. This project aims to promote family acceptance, celebrate IDAHOT and collaborate with the government, private sectors and CBOs to help LGBT communities to access justice. 

I also look at the content on testVTE.org about HIV and STI prevention, PrEP, HIVST, SOGIESC, chemsex, gender affirming care for the trans community and GBV. I currently serve as a member of Laos Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for the Global Fund.

I worked at Community Health and Inclusion Association (CHIAs) on Sustainability of HIV services for key populations in Asia (SKPA), under this project we promoted on online digital platforms like testVTE.org, including social media to promote HIV testing and PrEP. I have also worked at Proud To Be Us Laos for LGBT advocacy work.

Between 2012-2016 I worked at Population Service International (PSI) for Global Fund Project as an outreach worker for MSM/TG on HIV prevention program, I also joined Centre of HIV/AIDS and STI (CHAS) for Integrated Biological and Behavioral Survey (IBBS) among Man who Have Sex with Man and TG. In 2015 I Joined MSM, MSW, TG and TGSW Mapping Protocol Lao at Vientiane capital by CHAS together with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Thailand and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Discussion about equal access to health care services

What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of? Why?

My proudest achievement is developing of testVTE website (www.TestVTE.org) and social media platform by testVTE, because this website is the source of information in our local Lao language about HIV and STI prevention and other useful information for our community like PrEP, HIVST, and ART. Our community can use the platform for online booking for getting PrEP, HIV testing and HIV self-testing. On social media we provide information on SOGIESC, chemsex, gender affirming care, gender-based violence (GVB) and gender equality.

What do you find most challenging about your work? Why?

There are a lot of factors that we have faced like the pandemic, but these situations are going to relax day by day. The most challenging is stigma and discrimination, we need to work with partners and with people who are not aware of diversity and inclusion, but I believe that these people are crucial and it makes me work harder for a better change. 

Also, access to friendly and comprehensive health facilities for trans people is a challenge. Our trans friends still face stigma and discrimination because of their gender. We need to collaborate with health care providers to educate them to understand more about gender diversity.

Discussion with communities

What do you do to recharge your battery?

To recharge my battery, I prefer to stay at home, relaxing and cooking or visit somewhere quiet like the mountains, river side or meet some friends to chat about something not serious.

What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

I am a slow life person since eating, traveling or doing any activity. But in my slow life I have to prepare myself to be ready and detail, I think this might not be my weak point because I pay more attention to detail in what I do and everything I do quite works well.

You have been nominated for the Transgender Hero category.
What was your reaction and please, tell us why?

I have never been nominated for an Award before, this is my first time.

What is a warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific?
(or anything else you would like to share)

Transgender people are capable and should be treated equally just like everyone else. 

The value of human beings does not come from gender identity or gender expression – these should not be used as an excuse to judge us.

Provide SOGIESC to health care provider

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