Two trans-led healthcare clinics have opened in India to support trans people with their health, wellbeing and HIV status.
The clinics, both in the southern city of Hyderabad, will welcome all members of trans and non-binary communities and are staffed by trans doctors, nurses, managers and counsellors, according to the Hindustan Times.
The clinics are the first of their kind in India, and are part of the government’s commitment to having trans clinics across the country as part of the controversial Transgender Persons Act 2019.
LGBT+ critics of the act said it was “dehumanising” and would negatively impact on trans people’s livelihoods. It became law in November 2019 despite intense pressure from gender-diverse groups and a 1,000-person strong march against it.
While one controversial clause was removed after the pressure – which related to enforced medical examinations by a penal of district magistrates to “certify” someone is trans – several troubling elements remained, including different punishments for crimes where the victim is cis versus trans, and enshrining little to no protections for trans people in public spaces or the workplace.
India’s new trans clinics have mission to ‘prevent HIV’
The two new trans-led clinics in Hyderabad, the capital city of southern state Telangana, have a mission to “prevent HIV” among the trans community, which has a higher prevalence of people living with HIV than the general population in India.
“The HIV prevalence among transgender here is 6.47 per cent compared with the national average of 3.13 percent,” Rachana Mudraboyina, a trans activist, told Telangana Today.
“India is a partner in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) shared objectives on health outcomes and partners with the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to eradicate AIDS by 2030.
“The USAID Accelerate project too is providing technical assistance to NACO in its efforts.”
She added that Hyderabad was chosen as the first city for trans clinics to open in because it has a higher prevalence of trans people living with HIV.
Mudraboyina said: “The Hyderabad Transgender Community Clinic very well fits into the USAID’s mission and objectives of the Accelerate project to prevent HIV and support antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment services among transgenders.
“The clinic also strives to improve the socioeconomic status of the community and take care of overall wellbeing.”
The first clinic opened in Narayanguda in January, and the second opened on 11 July. The opening of the second clinic was attended by celebrity drag artist Sushant Divgikar.
Divgikar, the goodwill ambassador for the clinics, thanked John Hopkins University for funding the trans clinics in a Instagram post with a photo of the opening ceremony.
“Such a proud moment for the transgender community,” Divgikar said. “I was so happy to see my trans brothers and sisters being of service to humanity.”
They added: “This is proof that we can also be doctors, nurses, medical examiners, resource staff, management staff, counsellors, psychiatrists and work so many other productive jobs just like cis gendered (Male and female), Heterosexual people.
“All we need is equity and opportunity.”