Two transgender clinics, which will be run by and for transgender people, have been inaugurated this year in Hyderabad. The community considers it to be historic as these are India’s first transgender clinics and will help the community avail better health services.
The trans clinic has many health services to offer such as taking care of general health, guidance and medication on hormone therapy and Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS), mental health counseling, prevention and treatment services on HIV/AIDS. The clinic will also offer legal aid and social protection services. It is exclusively for transgender people and others, including those identifying as LGB(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual), will not be entertained there.
The clinic has 7-8 small rooms where currently 10 medical professionals from the transgender community, such as doctors, nurses, medical examiners, management staff, counselors, psychiatrists and others, are deployed. Dr. Prachi and Dr. Ruth, who belong to the community, are the qualified MBBS doctors there. In the case of referrals, the patients will be referred to suitable private hospitals where transgender persons will be treated at a subsidised cost.
The clinics are an initiative by the union government as mandated in the Transgender Persons Act, 2019 to provide better healthcare services to the transgender community, especially to fight against HIV/AIDS amongst those who belong to the community.
According to media reports, such transgender clinics will be inaugurated across all the metro cities in India one by one. Trans activist Rachana Mudraboyina, who also runs a YouTube channel called TransVision to educate and create awareness amongst the community, said that HIV cases are more in Hyderabad’s transgender community as compared to other cities in India, hence the city was chosen for the first trans clinic. “The HIV prevalence among transgender people here (Hyderabad) is 6.47 per cent compared with the national average of 3.13 per cent,” she said. The clinics are also funded and supported by Johns Hopkins University.
According to UNAIDS, India has the world’s third-largest population living with HIV which is 2.1 million people, whereas the HIV prevalence in the transgender community is 3.1% compared to 0.26% among others.
Rachana also told that, with the aim to eradicate HIV by 2030 in India, the county is a partner in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) shared objectives on health outcomes and partners with the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO).
Apart from fighting diseases, the transgender clinic will also help to improve the social status of the transgender community and help them in avoiding the social stigma associated with the community that makes many transgender people either skip medical treatment, which results in worsening health conditions, or face social shame.
The social stigma in the healthcare system is happening despite the Supreme Court having recognised India’s 2 million transgender people as a third gender with equal rights in 2014. That is the reason that till the end of June, only 11.45% of the estimated at 490,000 transgender population (according to the previous census) were partailly vaccinated. However, the actual trans population can be closer to 1.8 million, according to reports.
Sonali Dalvi, a transgender activist, while speaking to ANI news agency recently said that transgender people face a lot of discrimination from local people if they are being treated in a normal hospital ward. Many women do not feel comfortable with their presence. Hence it affects the comfortability of transgender persons.
“Now more and more people from our community will come forward for their health issues as they feel more comfortable in talking about their issues with transgender people which they can’t in other healthcare centres due to the stigma associated with the community,” says Rachana.
The first transgender clinic was opened in Narayanguda on January 29 and the second on July 11 in Jeedimetla this year. The second clinic was inaugurated by drag artist Sushant Divgikar. Sushant took to Instagram and expressed their gratitude and euphoria saying, “Historic, the first transgender clinic in India.” They also urged people to be supportive of each other and not judge people based on gender, orientation, sex, expression, religion, caste and other characteristics of the people.
As the two clinics are part of an initiative by the Union Government, such transgender clinic is going to be launched soon in Maharashtra’s Pune and it will be named ‘Accelerate’.