Recap on Regional Asia Pacific Webinar: Transgender and Gender Affirming Healthcare – Spotlight on Asia

By March 27, 2024 April 12th, 2024 Learning, SKPA

Abhina Aher


On 13 February 2024, APCOM in partnership with Health Equity Matters, as part of the SKPA-2 program supported by The Global Fund, conducted a session on Regional Asia Webinar: Transgender and Gender Affirming Healthcare.

This is part of the regional Learning Series to provide knowledge sharing and foster peer-to-peer exchange for our partners across the Asia Pacific region.

This 90-minute session provided:

  • Examples of good practices for community-led service delivery for trans and gender-affirming healthcare
  • Awareness rising of trans and gender-affirming specific healthcare among key population communities and other stakeholders
  • Understanding and sensitizing issues and challenges related to trans and gender affirming healthcare among key population communities and other stakeholders

APTN shared their work in 11 countries on the Community-Led Monitoring approach as part of the community system strengthening. Of note from the presentation is that transgender people across the region face substantial health disparities and obstacles to accessing appropriate healthcare services. These disparities can diminish opportunities for achieving the highest possible health status and can result in the poor healthcare status among vulnerable transgender people in the Asia Pacific region.

From APTN’s initiative in Community-Led Monitoring, they found that more than 60% of the transgender people felt ‘judged’ during healthcare access by the healthcare providers, the discrimination was compounded when their appearance did not match with their current national identity card, lack of knowledge towards the transgender people were observed in healthcare and safety and wellbeing of the transgender people while attending the clinic was compromised.

The Institution of HIV research and Innovation (IHRI) shared their experience of the world-famous ‘Tangerine Clinic’ in Bangkok focusing on gender affirmation hormone therapy.  Tangerine Clinic still considered as epitome of the trans-health standards in the Asia Pacific region and they are providing support to other countries in the Asia Pacific region to establish similar health facilities.

Although this is a positive for Thailand for the region, in Thailand legal status for the transgender people is not recognised, and no data is available officially from the government on transgender health. Transgender healthcare is available but is not all friendly. There is a stigma in healthcare and transgender people share that they do not receive gender affirmation care counseling and support from the government health clinics in Thailand.

Panel discussion

Manisha Dhakal, Blue Diamond Society 

Manisha shared her personal experience on accessing gender affirming care in Nepal. There are some positive progresses and she shared that Nepal is still struggling for gender affirmation surgeries especially sex reassignment surgeries. Gender affirmation certificates and legal status to choose your own gender identity is extremely important and we don’t need to align that with the medical certification. Self-determination is a human rights approach and it should be done so in the Asia Pacific region.

Angel, Jaffna Transgender Network from Sri Lanka 

In Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Angel shared that for the first time they started on HIV testing with the transgender people, however, there are cultural barriers, self-stigma among the transgender people. She shared that decriminalization, gender affirmation care, financial sustainability of the young transgender people, mental health, investment on the trans healthcare and gender affirmative policies focused towards vulnerable transgender people in Sri Lanka is very much needed.

Bella, Inti Muda Organization, Indonesia 

There are barriers due to the cultural and socio-economic background in the countries which are affecting the dignified and inclusive transgender healthcare. Bella mentioned that we need to engage with the policy makers and political leaders who are getting elected in Indonesia, to create gender friendly approaches and implement anti-discrimination law so that transgender people can access health services that they need without discrimination. 

Reflection from Sherry Sherqueshaa, Regional Coordinator, APNSW – to ensure that issues transgender is included in the conversation, and not to overlook the specific needs of transgender people:

“From my point of reflection from what I’ve been hearing from everyone, I think it’s really important to know that there is an intersectionality between transgender in terms of HIV, accessing HIV health care, PrEP and PEP, transgender doing sex work, and also transgender accessing hormones replacement therapy.”

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