The first-ever National Transgender Summit reaffirmed the rights of the transgender community
The first-ever National Transgender Summit was organised by India HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance India) in collaboration with National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on 6th April 2021 to develop clarity on HIV/AIDS Act and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act for the transgender community to facilitate and ensure community involvement for their successful implementation. The Summit also proved to be a platform for developing a roadmap for effective implementation of the two Acts involving the transgender community for advocacy at both local and national level. One of the important objectives was to facilitate the implementation of India specific provisions of Gender Affirmation Care guidelines involving government and private stakeholders and the transgender community which is in line with the broader goal of developing a mechanism for holistic welfare and development of the Transgender community involving Ministries, line departments, National mechanisms (for example National Transgender Council), Civil Society Organisations, Community Based Organisations and Community Networks.
In the first session, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 were discussed, which have been put in place to provide for the protection of rights of transgender persons and towards ensuring their welfare. The session that followed was a panel discussion on the development of transparent mechanisms and measures to ensure proper implementation of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020. The panel discussed the efforts and deliberations among the community representatives and experts that went into the creation and modifications of the provisions of the act before it came into force while mentioning the several stakeholders that have been involved in ensuring their implementation.
In the third session on HIV/AIDS Act, it was clarified that new guidelines are being prepared regarding the act to broaden its scope by extending the provision for social protection not only to people living with HIV but the entire spectrum of communities that are affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in any manner. The fourth session was on Transgender Health and Rights Concerns in which it was emphasised that on a collective level, it is important to reach out and ensure the individual voices of the community are heard and this responsibility extends to healthcare providers in understanding the individual and related elements of gender affirmative medical intervention. The final session of the day explored Gender Affirmative Care, an aspect most significant to the transgender community, with discussions regarding the existing gender affirmation services and the degree of their accessibility to the community members.
Based on the important discussions carried out through the day-long Summit, the following recommendations were suggested:
• Integrating gender affirmation care and other health-related services (including HIV) through a holistic approach involving the Ministry of Health, NACO, Medical Council of India, UN agencies (e.g. UNAIDS), community members and healthcare professionals.
• Gender affirmation care always to be provided with a team of experts from necessary medical fields (such as mental health, endocrinology, gender affirmation surgery etc.) and this should be as per the standard medical guideline. The one-stop centre concept can be helpful in this regard.
• More awareness generation is needed about the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act and the HIV/AIDS Act among the community members as well as among the respective stakeholders.
• To develop a comprehensive framework for greater accountability of the various representatives, including government departments, in addressing different facets of the issues faced by a Transgender person at different points in life within multiple spheres such as healthcare, education, employment as well as matters of law and security.
• More training and sensitisation related activities need to be organised for all the stakeholders catering the needs of Transgender community members in terms of healthcare, education, employment and legal arena.
• More Community-Based Organisations should be connected to support programmes for better transfer of ownership to the community.
The National Transgender Summit is the National Hijra Habba of Alliance India supported by Amplify Change.
~ Written collaboratively by Anurag Paul & Amrita Sarkar