Transgender Health Program
Transgender and gender diverse persons in Uganda experience significant health and health care inequality perpetuated by a social political and legal environment that instigates a lot of stigma and discrimination against them. The barriers that impede optimal access to health care for transgender and gender diverse parsons include: fear of discrimination, inconvenient operating hours of public health facilities, issues of name and gender identification of trans persons among others.
62% of the respondents, from the TNU 2018 Trans Needs Assessment, expressed needs for health care. The key expressed health needs were: HIV care and treatment (28.1%), treatment for sexually transmitted infections/diseases (21.0%), gender affirming health care-surgery (22.3%), the need for hormones expressed (17.0%) and 11% for mental health services. The assessment found major barriers to accessing health care to be; lack of money to buy medicine (22%) and for transportation to a health facility (43%) of the respondents.
While the public health system in Uganda could and should meet these expressed health needs for transgender persons, transgender persons encounter serous barriers to effectively demand, access and utilize existing public health services to meet their health care needs. Key the barriers that transgender persons face is stigma and discrimination in health care settings which curtails the participation in the planning, organization and monitoring of health service delivery.
The priority service components under this program include; the trans health care center, regional drop in centers of excellence and trans health outreach. Services provided to the community include general medical services, wellness services, HIV prevention, Sexual reproductive health rights and Mental health services.
Transgender Justice Program
Although the 1995 constitution of the republic of Uganda, provides for equality and non-discrimination of persons regardless of their race, tribe, gender, religion, extra. The prevailing social norms and legal system in Uganda remains very hostile towards trans and gender non-confirming persons. A transgender needs assessment study conducted by TNU in 2018 found that a significant proportion of transgender persons face a range of discrimination, stigma and violence in all places. Over 41% of the transgender persons who participated in the study have experienced violence in public places including health facilities, restaurants and even schools.
Over the years, trans and gender diverse people have been the face of the LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda majorly because of their gender expressions. Uganda as a society is littered with biases that continue to perpetuate stigma, discrimination, and violence against the trans community. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Uganda, particularly LGBTIQ+ rights organizations, continuously face challenges that include intimidation from government, media restrictions and interference of work by government agencies.
As a network, we continue to implement initiatives with the aim of changing the status quo and to build a Uganda where trans and gender diverse persons are recognized and can freely express themselves without any prejudices. The organization has worked in partnership with different stakeholders to advocate for the promotion and protection of the rights of trans persons in Uganda and has developed strong relations with a number of CSOs and projects.
The priority service components under this program include; trans health rights advocacy, access to justice, strategic litigation and emergency response.
Trans Resilience & Economic Empowerment Program
The prevailing social norms and legal system in Uganda remains very hostile towards transgender persons. A transgender needs assessment study conducted by TNU in 2018 found that a significant proportion of transgender persons face a range of discrimination, stigma and violence in all places. Over 41% of the transgender persons who participated in the study have experienced violence in public places including health facilities, restaurants and even schools. The above has also been a stumbling block in access to employment and education among trans persons in Uganda. The assessment found that although a significant number of the respondents had attained secondary and tertiary education, the need for improved education access was expressed by 56% and with employment highlighted as the greatest need, reported by 67% of respondents. The needs assessment also revealed that over 59% of respondents (trans persons) live in households in the lower income quintile that is under two hundred thousand shillings (200,000ugx) monthly. There are a host of barriers to employment among the trans population in Uganda from self-stigma, unfriendly work environments to the general lack of jobs. It is important for these barriers to be broken as it is widely acknowledged that conditions of poverty and ill-health exacerbate each other in that poor health increases expenditure on medical care and reduces productivity and hence income. The constraints of low income in turn affect health negatively, through financial barriers to accessing good quality medical care, dietary deprivation and exposure to environmental risk factors such as poor sanitation and overcrowding.
TNU is taking steps towards tackling some of the underlying issues giving rise to the above problems which include wide spread self-stigma, low skill set, low awareness levels on government youth funding programs and the lack of organised groupings among the trans population that would ease access to said government funding are non-existent. Creating an alternative channel of income through economic empowerment support and capacity building will protect trans persons in Uganda from a life of desperation and improve their general mental welfare.
The priority service components under this program include building social capital networks through formation of groups, increasing financial literacy of the groups, entrepreneurship skills development and linkage to seed capital and financial services.
Network Strengthening and Coordination Program
We hope to build a sustainable network of trans organizations in Uganda by continuously strengthening governance and management structures, policies, and systems that align with our strategic plan.
We continuously make efforts to enhance the sustainable capacity of our network’s member organizations by strengthening their institutional capacity for the delivery of impactful programs. This is done through the design and implementation of institutional strengthening plans for TNU member organizations. Plus offering training opportunities to trans leaders to enhance capacity to effectively advocate for the enhancement of trans rights.
The priority service components under this program include; establishing a trans innovations and a learning hub, regional focal point organizations, systems strengthening for member organizations, and regional coordination fora.