With the associated stigma of belonging to an undefined gender, the well-being of transgender people, approximately 25 million in number, remains largely neglected. Recently a series of studies have been initiated in an effort to understand the health needs and health care challenges of transgender people to develop much-needed transgender health care facilities.
The study was led by experts in the field of health and gender studies in collaboration with The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), John Hopkins’s University USA, The University of Sheffield UK and Curtin University, Australia.
With compromised mental health, transgender people are 60% more likely to falling prey to depression. An unstable mind leads to substance abuse and indulgence into unprotected sex, inevitably resulting in higher risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. To our surprise, these people are also victimized by corrective rape which is a hate crime committed as an abomination to their sexual orientation. Consequently, transgenders are at the risk of increased health risks, with their likelihood of contracting HIV reportedly being 50 times more than the general population.
It was also found that transgender people are usually not entitled to health insurance and even if they are, the coverage is very limited. With a financial constraint added to their fear of rejection from society and mishandling at the hands of health providers; transgender people are discouraged to seek medical help when required. This further leads to deteriorated health, when they have to undergo hormonal therapy (to enhance their femininity or masculinity) and take silicone injections (to enhance their facial features) at the hands of ‘quacks’, instead of health professionals.
The study aims to provide a framework to improve medical facilities and lives of transgender people on a global level. In addition to this, the study examined the social and legal status of transgender people across countries. The crucial findings of the study were also recently published in The Lancet.
Subjected to discriminated health rights, transgender people live an increasingly challenging life. If an ailment doesn’t kill them fist, predators on the street ensure their demise. Reportedly, at least 2,115 transgender people killings have taken place since 2008 at a global level.
One of the study’s lead authors, Sam Winter, said, “A key message is that the health and well-being of transgender people depends on respect for rights.”
Misunderstood in an uncaring world, transgender people struggle to shake off discrimination on a daily basis. The discordance between their personal gender identities and birth-assigned genders often makes them prone to anxiety, discomfort and distress, collectively known as gender dysphoria.
Winter added, in this regard, that an improved health care provision will only be assured for transgender people, if the primary health care providers take a leap forward. If they begin to respect them and acknowledge their health needs, only then things will proceed in the right direction. The author of the paper was hopeful that their study will play a pivotal role in raising awareness about health needs of this segment of people.
The authors of the studies have urged that global organizations such as The World Health Organization (WHO) step forward and focus on raising awareness regarding the mental and sexual health of transgender people.
The guidelines also emphasized that a change in the status of transgenders is long overdue. Currently, being a being a transgender is considered a disorder. To reverse this, coercive treatments, forced behavior modifications and the skeptic attitude towards transgenders need to be drastically changed to provide some semblance of relief.
The Hidden War Against Humanity
In this era of enlightenment, when equality is becoming an increasingly common concept, transgender people do not find any relief. Prejudice and stigmatization lead towards harassment and abuse as a routine affair. Due to their resultant distorted self-esteem, transgenders are often delayed rights to health care and respectable employment.
To receive adequate health care services, gender affirmation is the utmost requirement for transgenders – that they be recognized as a gender and their well-being is not overlooked. However, despite being prone to developing ailments such as HIV, cancer and depression, healthcare providers largely fail to cater to the needs of transgender people.
In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama recognized the existence and rights of transgenders in the US, which was a ray of hope for transgender people and their right advocates. He said, “As Americans, we respect human dignity. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
In Europe, transgender people are largely refused their right to legal recognition. However countries such as Argentina, Ireland, Norway and Denmark have emerged as countries with progressive legal rights for transgenders. Recently, third-world countries have also started to voice concerns about transgender rights with their legislatures already moving to recognize transgender people as a third gender that is equal to men and women.