Category: Recent Engagements

BREAKING BARRIERS TO SEXUAL & REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS FOR TRANSGENDER PERSONS IN UGANDA.

On the 15th June 2021, Tranz Network Uganda hosted a project kick-off meeting on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for transgender and gender diverse Ugandans. Breaking barriers to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights for transgender persons is a one year project aimed at reducing stigma, discrimination and rejection of the trans and gender diverse people seeking SRHR services in Uganda.

The goal of this project is to raise SRHR awareness and knowledge in the community, as well as the trans and gender diverse people. In addition to advocating for inclusive service provision and providing SRHR services to trans and gender diverse people.

We would like to express our gratitude to all of the various stakeholders and Amplify Change, the sponsor of the project.

DECLASSIFICATION OF NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS FROM THE LIST OF ACCOUNTABLE PERSONS

Tranz Network Uganda along other Non-Governmental Organisations on 21st May 2021 as a team presented a policy brief on the justification to declassify Non Profit Organizations in Uganda from the list of accountable persons under the 2nd schedule to the AML-Act 2013 as amended and this was compelled by Defenders Protective Initiative-DPI to the Financial Intelligence Authority.

According to the brief, promoting well regulated non-profit organizations is critical to any effective and comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime. It also states it is critical to use a risk-based approach to money laundering and terrorism financing in order to avoid interfering with the operations of the legitimate non-profit organizations.

“HIV/AIDS PREVENTION, CARE AND SUPPORT FOR TRANSGENDER PERSONS IN THE CENTRAL REGION OF UGANDA

Tranz Network Uganda (TNU) with funding from Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) is implementing a one-year project entitled “HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support for transgender persons in central region of Uganda” the project focuses more specifically on two districts of Wakiso and Kampala. The project targets to reach out to 510 transgender persons with HIV counseling and testing as well as sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening. The services are provided using two models; mobile (community outreaches) and static (Drop-In Center). The project began in October 2019 and continues to this day.

Overall aim of the project:

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

Objectives of the Project: The HIV prevention, care and support for transgender person project in central region was proposed to achieve the following objectives;

  • To increase HIV awareness among the transgender persons in Wakiso and Kampala districts
  • To advocate and promote equitable HIV services for transgender persons in Wakiso and Kampala districts
  • To provide HIV testing and STI screening to 510 transgender persons in Wakiso and Kampala districts
Activities being implemented:
  • Community outreaches on HIV counselling and testing.
  • ART client follow ups to ensure drug adherence and viral suppression,  
  • Conducting referrals for HIV/AIDS positive transgender persons
  • Static HIV testing and STI screening for transgender persons at the TNU Drop In Center.
  • Social networking, information and experience sharing sessions.
  • Partnering with healthcare providers for referral and support:
  • Trainings on; “HIV/AIDS, Human Rights & The Law”, “SRHR”, “Gender & Sexual Diversity”, “Health Literacy”, “PEP & PrEP usage by Peer Educators” among others.

Trehss Project

Trans Responsive Health Systems Strengthening Project, is a two-year project implemented by Tranz Network Uganda. The project will run from January 1st, 2021 to December 31st, 2021. The Trans Responsive Health System-Strengthening Project supported by OSIEA and will be implemented in three (3) regions of Uganda (Eastern, Western, and Central). This project will be addressing the challenges of limited access to health care services, stigma and discrimination of trans gender and gender diverse persons in Uganda. The project also aims to drive health systems in the fore mentioned regions towards a rights-based service delivery approach.

Overall Goal of TREHSS Project: To improve access to and utilization of integrated health services that effectively respond to the specific needs of trans and gender diverse persons in Uganda.

Objective 1: To increase demand, access and utilization of integrated health services in a safe, friendly and transgender led environment

Objective 2: To strengthen the responsiveness of the public health facilities to trans health needs

Objective 3: To strengthen capacity of TNU to support effective demand and utilization of existing health services by trans persons in Uganda.

KEY ACTIVITIES:

  1. Establishing three (3) Regional Drop in Centers of Excellence (DICE) in Central, Eastern and Western Uganda
  2. Project baseline assessment (Demand, access and utilization of mental health, HIV/AIDS, SRHR by transgender and gender diverse persons)
  3. Capacity building and support of community support persons (mental health counsellors, Peer educators etc.)
  4. Mental health awareness boot camp
  5. Mental health first aid outreaches and group therapy activities
  6. Building capacity of 9 model transgender friendly public health facilities (3 HCFs in Central region, 3 in Eastern region and 3 in Western region).
  7. Training of sixty (60) health workers on rights-based approach to health care delivery and transgender health care
  8. Training of thirty (30) trans community members/health service monitors on community score card approach
  9. Quarterly health service score cards at nine (9) health facilities
  10. Biannual regional reflection and health services advocacy meetings based on score card data with key stakeholders
  11. Development of trans health mobile application to increase uptake of health services.

Tree Project Launch

On the Friday 20th November, 2020, Tranz Network Uganda held an event to launch a new initiative entitled the Transgender Resilience and Economic Empowerment (TREE) project. The launch was attended by heads of the network member organizations, representatives from the Board and various stakeholders both physically and virtually.

What is the Tree Project?

The TREE project is an eighteen (18) month livelihood and economic intervention program funded by American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

The transgender people in Uganda over the years have been one of the most marginalized populations. An environment rich in Trans phobia fueled by social cultural biases have seen a large number of transgender persons drop out of school and left with no formal sources of income.

The TREE project aims to build social capital and resilience of Trans community members in Uganda through the formation of saving groups (VSLA model), promotion of financial inclusion, entrepreneurship and vocational skills development and linkage to other social economic empowerment activities.

Project Goal:

  • To contribute to the economic transformation of Trans gender persons in Uganda.

Project objectives:

  • To enhance VSLA skills among 90 transgender persons in Uganda by March 2022.
  • To increase employment opportunities among 90 transgender persons through vocational skills development by March 2022.

Key activities to be conducted include;

  • A baseline needs assessment of the livelihood/economic empowerment needs and available opportunities for the targeted transgender persons/beneficiaries to inform the project design.
  • To organize beneficiaries into groups based on Village Saving Loan Associations model where beneficiaries will be grouped with 15 members and trained on VSLA principles and methodologies.
  • Training of group members on leadership, financial, literacy, income generation activities and roles of good leadership.
  • Equipping of group members with saving tool kits which include lockable metallic box, pass books, stamps, record books, writing materials etc. Each group is expected to run a saving cycle of up to 12 months after which they can share their savings and begin a new cycle.
  • Training of group members on entrepreneurship skills including enterprise selection once they have begun saving.
  • Support vocational skilling for eligible members identified through the groups to provide Trans persons with employment skills, competencies relevant to the labor market.

This project is informed by the Trans specific needs assessment conducted as part of the Cross-Border collaboration Health project where over 56% of members expressed interest in adopting the VSLA skills.

Transgender Day Of Visibility

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 Assessment 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

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.