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Trans and Gender-diverse Individuals in the Americas Part 5: Right to Health

The report analyzes the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of medical care to ensure the right to health. Trans and gender-diverse individuals often face discrimation and inadequate access and quality of care. The right to health is ensured by the state to have standards of care and inclusivity; however, many trans and gender-diverse people are excluded from the healthcare system. Stereotypes and misconceptions prevalent in the medical community often pathologize them and reduce the health needs of trans individuals to sexual healthcare or transitioning. 

In some parts of Latin America, trans individuals are perceived as having mental illness and there are barriers to transitioning that impede care and changing identity documentation.

Non-inclusive medical training has led to insensitivity and improper care. As a result of  the negative experiences in the healthcare system and gender-separate facilities, many trans and gender-diverse individuals go without preventative care.

Additionally, because of exclusion from medical services, many trans and gender-diverse individuals self-medicate using hormone therapy, soft tissue fillers, and unregulated products to transition. Outside of medical facilities and without regulation, some of these procedures and materials can be harmful and dangerous and reflect insufficient support for medical transitioning. 

Because many trans women participate in sex work in Latin America and are exposed to unsafe conditions, they are among the most at-risk demographics for HIV exposure. Almost 35% of trans women in Latin America have contracted HIV, and the stigma surrounding HIV and trans individuals creates barriers to acquire medical treatment. 

The report suggests more inclusive medical training to destigmatize trans individuals. It also suggests additional legal protections to standardize care and make professionals even more aware of the existing protections. It also calls for increased inclusivity towards HIV positive individuals and people in poverty to get better access to care. 


Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Trans and Gender-diverse People


The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas created a backslide of progress towards human rights. The IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) passed a resolution entitled “Pandemic and Human Rights'' calling for intersectional policies related to marginalized communities, including indigenous, trans, and gender-diverse communities. Historically, humanitarian assistance and economic recovery efforts have excluded the LGBTQI communities because the policy makers do not use frameworks to promote equitable assistance. The pre-existing inequities are exacerbated in times of crisis, and the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. In order to limit the number of people in public on a daily basis, some countries determined who could be out based on their gender. Measures that restricted daily movement based on gender disproportionately impacted trans individuals and led to increased police harassment because some of their legal documents did not match their gender identity and expression. 

In addition, many trans and gender-diverse individuals worked in sex work to afford rent and food and were more likely to be exposed to COVID-19. Social exclusion and discrimination has led to increased unemployement. Decreased finances and the lack of rent relief caused an increase in unhoused LGBTQI individuals. Although many of the government-directed initiatives have excluded trans and gender-diverse individuals, civil society organizations have worked to supply aid and combat food and water insecurity as well as provide PPE to protect against COVID-19. 

Further Reading:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021