Why Transgender are constantly pushed into the dark?

Manisha Dhakal/Pahichan – “I am delighted to be here today and share my few thought in this historic South Asia regional Trans and Hijara consultation and  SUB-REGIONAL INPUT TO THE ASIA-PACIFIC TRANS BLUEPRINT. Let me start with you by extending a very warm welcome to Nepal, the first country in the world  that recognized third genders, defying the rigid binary gender practices and showing us the light of diversity and inclusion. In this consultation  we are talking about Transgender/hijara , Human Rights Health and more issues related to us.

My country is progressive towards our rights. Nepal government started to issue citizenship card for third gender people as “others” box. Planning to issue passport soon. National youth policy include tg people. There is school level curriculum which include sogi issue. Political parties address our issue in their manifesto. National HIV and AIDS strategy and action plan and Nepal HIV investment plan include us. There is focal person in NHRC to deal our issues.

Nevertheelss, despite this progress, there are still some limitations and challenges. For example,  only those transgender who apply for the first time can get citizenship but people like me who already hold citizenship could not get it. Though there is address of tg issue in HIv strategy and action plan, we are still missing in IBBS study. Proposed civil and criminal code which was tabled in Parlament has discriminatory Claus towards us  which are against of government reorganization and supreme court decision. In this region many tg are using hormone without any prescription and gone through sex change operation without proper counseling. Castration without any experience medical doctora and without any anesthesia is very big risky.Moreover, Transgender supposed to be integral part of the families, societies and entire humanity, but we are even dropped off from the numbers, statistics, scales, percentages, graphics, researches, studies, census and from the development frameworks.

So, why the continuous invisibility of transgender is still going on? Why Transgender are constantly pushed into the dark? Everyone knows transgender share the biggest burden of HIV and violence.

We agree that these numbers are staggering and they help us to understand the magnitude of this epidemic  but the communities that are the core part of problem and heart of the solution are made missing from the statistics. That does not solve the problem.

Stories like Divya’s, who was trafficked when she was just 14 years old, from remote part of Nepal to Mumbai and forced into sex work for 7 years in Kamatipura, a red light district. She managed to escape after 7 years from brothel  but she lost her home, families, friends, adulthood, and future; and in return, she got HIV along with stigma, discrimination, violence and the whole society as a challenge in front of her to fights every day life. But these issue of traffic of Tg, rape of tg people, GBV toward us are not in discurse. People think that gender means only woman and these issue happen only to the woman. Not for us. Recent study by William Institute in Nepal suggest that over 60% of sexual and gender minorities face human rights abuses. What this data suggests? How long do you ignore such gross human rights violations and how long do you accept this human tragedy?

Some study and our own anecdotal information suggest that HIV epidemic among transgender is very high, in some cities like Mumbai,. Why? Because lack of education, lack of security, protection us from HRV, , lack of employment, lack of recognition about who we are

Widespread prejudge  and discrimination against transgender exists especially if they are also HIV positive, hinder national efforts towards universal access for prevention, treatment, care and support services.

Trans man issues are even more hidden and not in discurse as they have no any specific program, strategy and not prioritized their issues by the policy makers and the donors.

So increased efforts are needed to create social, legal and political environments to allow third gender /hijara people  to receive the support and services we need.

Good that Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, among south Asian countries, have recognized transgenders through progressive court rulings but there is much more to be done by the government and the donors. . We call Nepal government and all other governments in this region to intensify scheme for us  to ensure equal rights and opportunities for third genders not only identity card.

Having identy card , recognition is good initiation. It opens other doors and inclusion. But our programs should not be restricted to distributing condom, lubricants and HIV, STI related service but also creating enabling legal environment is equally important for us.We need equal opportunity in education, employment and easy access of health service that makes our life changes. Government should include us in scheme of poverty elimination fund. Government of all countries in this region should address our issues in plan and policies and in constitution as Nepal is going to formulate new constitution soon.

We, as a community have committed to take bold actions, campaigns and mobilizations to tackle the spread of HIV, violence and discrimination and expect the parliamentarians, governments, media, police, civil society and UN agencies to do their parts, to work with us, to bring us together into this common fight.

I wish great success of south Asia regional Trans and Hijara consultation and  SUB-REGIONAL INPUT TO THE ASIA-PACIFIC TRANS BLUEPRINT which help our community in our health and rights isuees. Hope this consultation brings these issues and means of solutions and recommendation to address these .

Every being in this creation has its own value and each of them contribute to the world on their own way, likewise,  we, the third genders, also are an inevitable part of this entire creation, there is a value of our existence and we have our own contributions too.  Thus, accept us, love us and let us continue to make more contributions by including us not only in programs but also at decision making level too.

Thank you very much and Namaste.