The community remains marginalized, and laws and policies denying
them gender recognition make access to healthcare even more
challenging, said the first of a series of papers on transgender
health published in The Lancet medical journal on Friday.
Studies cited in the papers showed there are an estimated 25 million
transgender people globally. Transgender people suffer high rates of
depression - up to 60 percent - due to stigma, discrimination and
abuse, jeopardizing their physical and mental health.
Many are drawn into risky behaviors such as unsafe sex or substance
abuse due to such stigma. Transgender people are almost 50 times
more likely to contract HIV than the general population.
Globally, there have been at least 2,115 killings of transgender
people documented since 2008.
"A key message is that the health and wellbeing of transgender
people depends on respect for rights," one of the lead authors, Sam
Winter, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Winter, an associate professor at Curtin University in Australia,
said primary healthcare providers have a key role to play in
ensuring those rights are achieved and hoped the papers would raise
awareness in the medical community.
"The message for healthcare providers is that transgender people,
wherever they live, and whatever the area of their lives, have the
same rights as their compatriots to the highest attained standard of
Laws in Argentina, Denmark, Malta, Ireland and Norway have been
hailed as the most progressive in gender recognition for transgender
people, but the majority of countries worldwide have a long way to
In Europe, eight states fail to offer legal recognition to
transgender people, and 17 states impose sterilization on those
seeking gender recognition.
Meanwhile, New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, Pakistan and India have
moved or are moving toward recognizing gender diversity beyond male
"CORRECTIVE" RAPE WIDESPREAD
The Lancet issue included first-person accounts from the transgender
"Living proudly as a transgender man in the small sub-Saharan
country of Lesotho has come at a serious price," wrote Tampose
Mothopeng, director of the People's Matrix Association, an LGBT
support group in Lesotho, and co-author of a paper in the journal.
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"The widespread instances of 'corrective' rape against transgender
men and lesbian women mean that I must constantly be careful and
vigilant in every kind of public space, from entertainment venues to
walks home from work."
The authors pressed for a series of actions, including for the World
Health Organization to move diagnoses for transgender people from a
chapter relating to "mental and behavioral disorders" to "conditions
related to sexual health".
They said this would be a "historic" move to avoid reinforcing
They also called for physicians to be trained to understand the
health needs of transgender people, and that healthcare for the
community, such as access to feminising and masculinizing hormones,
to be funded on the same basis as other health care.
Last year, the World Medical Association, which represents more than
10 million physicians, adopted a blueprint on how to treat
transgender people in ways that respect their choices and rights and
do not question their sexuality.
The guidelines recognize that being transgender is not a disorder
and explicitly reject "coercive treatment or forced behavior
(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi, Editing by Alisa Tang. Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson
Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking,
property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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