How do LGBTI people experience healthcare services in Asia? This question is answered partially with the release of a report on how transgender women experience healthcare in Singapore.
The T Project, a community-based organisation that empowers the transgender community in Singapore released a landmark report today with support from B-Change.
Data was drawn from the grassroots through a community survey conducted in June 2016. Assessing the level of discrimination faced by transgender women when they access healthcare services in Singapore was one of the survey's key objectives. Results were consolidated and analysed with the participation of individuals in the community.
In the past transgender health programs were mostly limited to HIV prevention strategies and often failed to address the holistic needs of the individual. The report spotlights the many challenges transgender woman in Singapore face in the health care system, including a lack of awareness among health professionals on transgender issues, professional misconduct and barriers to accessibility.
Researchers hope these findings contribute to improved quality of healthcare services. "This study helps The T Project and other groups working on transgender issues in raising visibility and highlighting the needs of the transgender women, especially when accessing healthcare," June Chua, founder of The T Project explained. "But so much more research needs to be done."
In a country where the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) live under a penal code that criminalises same sex sexual behaviour, community leadership on research initiatives such as these are rare. Singapore's "developed country" status often limits local community groups from participating in international development programmes designed to build the capacity of marginalised communities. "Understanding of the diverse needs in the Singapore's LGBT community needs to be improved," said Bryan Choong, Programme Specialist at B-Change. "Community based research like this can help to uncover these needs and gaps. Only then we can start to build a more inclusive and accepting environment."
'Transgender Women’s Experiences with Healthcare Services in Singapore' is produced as part of a regional initiative supporting grassroots projects in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. The Developed Asia Network initiative helps strengthen the capacity of community groups to advocate for equitable access to HIV treatment and other health services. The initiative was supported jointly by B-Change and Levi Strauss Foundation. More outcomes from this initiative will be shared soon.
The Singapore report also underscores the urgency of B-Change's inclusion app project. After a successful crowdfunding campaign in mid-2016 our mobile app will break new ground as a tool to help LGBTI locate nearby community-friendly places and services. Users will be invited to rate the quality of services and share local knowledge that is otherwise difficult to access. Businesses, grassroots organisations and government agencies will have opportunities to use the app as a platform to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion. The app is due in 2017.
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