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PHOTO: Fronting Trans Movement spokesman Joe Wong says there needs to be HIV prevention programs for trans men. (UNAIDS: H.Nhan) MAP: Thailand
Transgender groups in Asia-Pacific speak out on health needs

in THAILAND, 24/02/2014

For the first time, non-governmental organisations joined leading experts at an international conference to discuss the latest advances in research and advocacy for transgender and transsexual people. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) symposium, held this week in Bangkok, also included a scientific program focusing on issues relating to transgender sexuality and health.

Joe Wong, spokesman for the Fronting Trans Movement in Singapore, told Asia Pacific that trans men are among the most neglected and invisible groups in society.
"You won't be able to see a trans-man on the street," he said. "They evolve from being lesbians then realising they don't want to be in this female body, and then they try to go through different procedures to get their gender aligned. "There is no existence of any HIV services available for trans-men; there's no access to prevention brochures, no access to prevention messages and there is just no healthcare providers who are sensitised enough to talk about such issues. "There is still not much acceptance within the community that gay trans-men do exist."

As transgender women, Hijras have a cultural role in many parts of South Asia but they face often discrimination and violence. Hijras are often asked to bless child births and weddings, sometimes out of fear that they might cast a spell over the occasion if they're not invited. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, an actress and Hijra activist says higher visibility can contribute to a more effective health response to HIV/AIDS. "It is very useful... that for the first time, the community is involved in this quite technical group of scientists and doctors who are this WPATH," she said.

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