Month: October 2019

Transgender day of visibility

International Transgender day of visibility awareness/celebration event

Uganda has no exception to trans
visibility, this is largely due to Uganda legal and policy frame work which
does not formally recognize trans people and which criminalizes same sex sexual
conduct. This place transgender persons in a position where they are apprehended
criminals hence increasing stigma and discrimination within and without.
Reference to the HRAPF publication on the Quick scan of the laws and policies affecting
transgender persons in Uganda, it clearly states that the Registration of
Persons Act 2015 doesn’t recognize the third gender; The general framework of
the act only recognizes the male and female genders as the gender markers
available there is thus no provision for a third gender for those who do not
align to the male or female sexes. Also, there is no mention of transgender
persons in the law at all. This makes transgender persons invisible within the
framework of the law that recognizes persons. Invisibility in the law leads to
invisibility in practice thus need to commemorate TDOV to increase demand and
visibility for trans human rights in Uganda.

Looking at the current situation
in Uganda, trans persons are still suffering from police brutally, inhuman and
degrading treatment, murdered, rejected by their families, cannot access
employment and are still discriminated and stigmatized at service provisions
simply because of being true to who they are resulting in multiple occurrences
of problems like substance abuse, depression, mental instability among many
other lived realities and experiences we feel should be shared and celebrated.

Without access to similar
freedoms and recognition as the cisgender community, the battle against
HIV/AIDS among other human rights issues within the transgender and gender
non-conforming persons will always have shackles restricting progress.
Statistics show that there has been no real improvement in the HIV prevalence
rate among many other human rights violations to the Trans community globally.

This event aimed to:

  • To shine a light on some of the challenges
    facing Trans persons in the country and devise collective response strategies.
  • To provide an opportunity for our allies,
    partners and stakeholders to engage with members of the Trans community from
    all walks of life, get a close look at the actual state of affairs, gain
    knowledge and understanding on the unique challenges Trans persons face in
    Uganda.
  • To celebrate resilient Trans activists who are
    positively impacting on lives of transgender persons across the country
    (Uganda).

Needs assesment report launch

Needs assesment report launch

Tranz Network Uganda, organized an event to launch the report on the trans specific needs assessment study. This event was an opportunity to disseminate the key findings of the study. Attendees, all with a copy of the report, got the opportunity to comment on the report and the methodology of the study.

Gender and Sexual Diversity

Tranz network
Uganda launches Gender and Sexual Diversity Training Report. A glimmer of hope.

Recently I was online visiting the corridors of Twitter
when I came across a hash tag #EvenIfTheySpit. Said hash tag was coined from a
statement that a certified medical doctor made which articulated, “Even if
they spit don’t be surprised!”

This was in regards to health care providers’ attitude
towards the LGBTI+ community. I was livid after I read this report
prepared by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).  It reminded me how members
of my community are treated like second class citizens, denying us access to
medical care because of gender and sexual orientation.

So an invitation from Tranz Network Uganda to attend
this launch was much needed because my heart was bleeding for our community. Of
course, each individual that attended the launch was given a copy of the Gender
and Sexual Diversity training (GSD) report. It was rather impressive, graphs
and charts, a clear success but what really hit home was the stories that were
shared during the launch. A Health Care provider whose mindset completely
changed after the training, getting an opportunity to unlearn hate and learn to
first and foremost be a health care provider with integrity as well as a human
being. Or the trans person who went to hospital with fear of being stigmatized
but was instead met with kindness and no rumors about her were being shared
along the hospital corridors. This was a result of having appointed a focal
person after the GSD trainings in Mbarara to receive LGBTI persons at TASO
Mbarara. These realities gave me a renewed hope, now more than ever, it takes
one person’s work to create ripple effects. Despite the dire need to bridge the
gap between medical access and the LGBTI community, people like the Tranz
Network Uganda team are taking the bull by the horns and the results are tremendous.

On a much lighter note, I enjoyed the snacks and drinks
that the Network shared with us, a rather thrilling and intense love song
by our very own Princess Rihanna but most importantly after the launch, I went
home rested, knowing that constant dialogues like this will change the hetero
normative narrative. Access to medical health is a human right despite gender
and sexual orientation!!!

Written by,

Lugendo Tracy Sanyu.

CARE AND SUPPORT FOR TRANSGENDER PERSONS IN CENTRAL UGANDA PROJECT

Majority of transgender people in Uganda are at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and yet they have been largely ignored in HIV prevention, care and support efforts. The gap is created by social stereotyping that perpetuates discrimination, stigma and rejection based on gender. The same attitude propagates into professional social service providers like in Education and healthcare who do not understand Trans gender specific healthcare issues and needs.

The challenge is further compounded on by the draconian laws which criminalize homosexuality in Uganda as transgender persons are the branded face of the gay movement in Uganda. As such transgender persons in Uganda face particular challenges with access to employment, basic health care, housing and shelter.

This project is an undertaking to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of transgender people by communities especially social service providers; increasing access to Sexual and reproductive health services and advocating to promote, protect and respect for rights of transgender persons through advocating for an enabling environment for enjoyment of transgender rights in Uganda.

The project focuses on addressing policy, legal and social barriers that impede access to rights and healthcare services; ensuring rights, and effective representation of transgender opinion in decision making processes and structures that influence social service delivery especially healthcare at national and local levels in Uganda.

Overall Project Goal

To increase access to equitable HIV/AIDS services and opportunities for Transgender persons in Uganda.

Specific Objectives,

  • To increase HIV/AIDS awareness among the transgender persons in the two districts of Wakiso and Kampala in Uganda
  • To advocate and promote equitable HIV/AIDS services for transgender persons in the two districts of Wakiso and Kampala in Uganda
  • To provide drop-in HIV/AIDS prevention services to 510 transgender persons in the two districts of Wakiso and Kampala in Uganda

The project is being implemented through various activities which include;

  • Weekly community outreaches for HIV counselling and testing 
  • Formation of community-based support group for transgender persons living with HIV/AIDS in Wakiso and Kampala
  • ART client follow ups to ensure drug adherence and viral suppression
  • Provision of Psychosocial support group sessions for transgender persons living with HIV.
  • Health Literacy Trainings
  • Referrals for HIV/AIDS positive transgender persons
  • Social networking, information and experience sharing sessions

The Gender and Sexual Diversity (GSD) Training is a practical and a strategic resource that helps persons, more specifically public health professional in HIV/AIDS, understand gender and sexual diversity. It is simplified to suit our country’s (Uganda) context. Gender and Sexual Diversity (GSD) training for health workers was a USAID and PEPFAR Initiative to engender empathy for Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM) and to build enthusiasm for responding to health needs of GSM communities in the context of HIV prevention programming. The training aims to guide, plan and implement country programs, at the same time address needs of the GSM. It is an innovative and practical resource that helps public health and HIV professionals to understand gender and sexual diversity in the context of their country and over a world span. GSD training was originally developed for use by leaders of large global and national HIV programs. However, the training materials have been highly adapted and revised for use with a diverse range of audiences and in a variety of contexts.

In Uganda, Transgender people complain first of the legal restrictions which even do not recognize their gender identity. These in most cases hinder their access to basic services especially public health where most public workers are completely ignorant about their unique nature and the special attention that they require. These limitations have made LGBTI persons extremely vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. These trainings have been important in helping to bring healthcare services closer to Gender and Sexual Minorities while incorporating their special needs.

PHASE ONE: TRANS SPECIFIC NEEDS ASSESSMENT

In April 2018 TNU commissioned a needs assessment survey to document the needs, challenges and experience of transgender persons in Uganda to accessing health and other social services. The survey also wanted to document the challenges faced by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in offering services to transgender people. The survey further aimed to estimate and document population size and distribution (density) of Transgender people in Uganda

The needs assessment has generated evidence and data that can be used for policy advocacy, as well as targeted programming for transgender persons in Uganda. Over the years, the needs, experience and challenges of transgender persons in Uganda have been more hypothetical than reality. Similarly, the population of transgender persons have been doubted, raising more question of who exactly they are, and where they live. With the need’s assessment, TNU has been more scientific and generated evidence to answer these questions. For organizations, individuals and development partners interested in working with transgender people, TNU has produced a reference document for effective programing. The needs assessment has, generated rich knowledge about experiences of transgender persons (in their own voices), of how communities perceive them being trans persons, and how such perceptions perpetuate discrimination, stigma and denial of services and opportunities.

download report

PHASE 2: PARTNERSHIP WITH HEALTH SERVICE PROVIDERS AND TRANSGENDER PERSONS FOR HOLISTIC SERVICE PROVISION.

TNU hosted Psychologist/Counsellor from Serbia – Kristian Rendolvic, who has over 25 years’ experience in transgender health. Along with Kristian, we had a dialogue with 14 healthcare providers in Kampala. During the meeting we used an assessment tool to evaluate health workers’ understanding of transgender health and what entails comprehensive health service provision in the HIV care, treatment and prevention in Uganda. The tool also provides reference to Standard of Care for the Health of Transgender, Transsexual and Gender Non-Conforming Persons-,a one of a kind document with information for health practitioners that provides guidance on how to tailor trans specific service provision moving forward. This was a great opportunity for healthcare providers to enhance their skills and understanding for better transgender health service delivery.

Transgender Woman (Trans Woman)

Transgender Woman (Trans Woman) – A person whose sex assigned at birth was male but whose gender identity is female. These identities can also refer to someone who was surgically assigned male at birth, in the case of intersex people, but whose gender identity is female. Many Trans women identify simply as women. 

Transgender Man (Trans Man)

Transgender Man (Trans Man) – A person whose sex assigned at birth was female but whose gender identity is male. These identities can also refer to someone who was surgically assigned female at birth, in the case of intersex people, but whose gender identity is male. Many Trans men identify simply as men.

Transgender (sometimes shortened to Trans or Trans*)

Transgender (sometimes shortened to Trans or Trans*) – A general term used to describe someone whose gender identity is different than the sex assigned at birth. Some people put an asterisk on the end of Trans to expand the word to include all people with nonconforming gender identities and expressions.

Intersex

Intersex – A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. Sometimes an intersex person is assigned a female or male sex at birth through surgery, if external genitals are not obviously male or female. Intersex babies are always assigned a legal sex, but sometimes when they grow up, their gender doesn’t match the sex selected for them. Some intersex people are transgender, but intersex does not necessarily mean transgender.