When one falls sick and visits a local health facility, there is some wait. But the attending staff takes care
and makes the wait comfortable. The patient’s turn comes, the doctor examines with patience and respect,
prescribes medicines, and the person comes home relieved. Is the experience the same for everyone? Do
the country’s poor have the same privileges? What about the marginalized, people with different
identities, people with unique needs? What about people from the LGBTQI+ community?
This is a thought that often comes to my mind. Is our health system, are our caregivers
skilled or conditioned to address special needs? Here I specifically want to mention the
LGBTQI+ community, which pertains collectively to people who identify as lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, queer (or those questioning their gender identity or sexual
orientation), intersex, and asexual (or their allies).
Do they face neglect, harassment, or abuse? Is there stigma and discrimination that the
community faces? Do people really understand them? How can we create social awareness
and respectful attitudes and practices toward the community?
To get the answer, I spoke to Simran Bharucha, an activist and director of a health program
focusing on the Transgender community.
Watch the video here:
Here is the summary of my discussion:
Shivam: Could you elaborate on the challenges faced by the transgender community in
accessing health care in India?
Simran: Thank you very much for doing this interview. Accessing health care when one
individual identifies himself or herself as a trans person has dual stigma attached to it. At
one hand they are given the stature where people touch their feet and seek blessings. At the
same time, they are seen down upon when they are trying to seek health care. Gender
identity is not accepted by the mainstream society and the services aren’t available as
compared to the needs and demands from the trans community.
Shivam: How can these challenges be addressed?
Simran: With awareness and sharing of positive testimonials! Right now, when a
transgender is visualized in the mainstream society, they are projected as beggars at
signals, in trains etc. But for the transgenders the tables have turned. You will find
transgenders at the best positions at corporates, organizations. Even the film fraternity has
now started representing trans people in a very respectful and a dignified manner. But
these case studies are not being talked about by the mainstream society. So, unless and
positive testimonials are not discussed, the perception of a mainstream society would not
change. The sharing of the positive testimonials is the solution for reducing stigma.
Shivam: What message do you have for the youth of the country?
Simran: Be confident and adaptable. Life is all about diversity. No one’s life on this
beautiful planet is going to be a rosy picture. Everybody would have their own issues,
dilemma, challenges, struggles, barriers, but life is all about optimism. My single message
is – be proud, be dignified. Live your life to the fullest. But at the same time be inclusive.
Shivam: Thank you so much for taking this interview and guys, if you’re watching this,
please check Simran out. She has done lovely work in this field and will continue to do so
in years to come!
Simran: Absolutely. Please do follow Shivam’s blog. He is coming out with some unheard
untouched real testimonials.