According to the 2011 Indian census, the country’s transgender population is roughly over five lakh. However, social workers and trans activists claim that the number is much higher. While the exact numbers is unknown, what is important is the degree of discrimination and hardships the community faces in attempting to secure their basic rights to life, safety, healthcare and livelihood. Hence, doctors, police and public who show humility and are sensitive towards personal and medical issues faced by transgender persons are more likely to gain their trust.
Did you know that the suicide attempt rate among transgender persons is quite high? This is because they are subjected to gender-based victimisation, discrimination, bullying, violence, rejected by family and friends, community, harassment by family members, police and even public at large. Worse still is the the discrimination and ill-treatment meted out to them at hospitals, police stations and government offices.
One needs to understand that all transgenders are not alike and need different things from healthcare. Each transgender person has a different story and different need — including general healthcare and support system that is unrelated to his/her transition status.
Owing to past unpleasant experiences, many transgender persons/patients avoid sharing information about their identity and medical history with doctors and counsellors in hospitals. Hence, it is important for families, the judiciary and healthcare professionals to be more inclusive, respectful, and responsive to the needs of transgender persons. Hope that’s not asking for too much!