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Doctors lack expertise in treating transgender patients

The third gender facing healthcare issues

By Karen Noronha
Bangalore, September 22, 2016: Doctors find it difficult to provide appropriate medical care to transgenders because of a lack of expertise and experience.

Medical providers are facing uncertainty when treating transgender patients. “Transgenders are not treated as humans. Hospital staff deliberately uses the male pronouns in addressing them as ‘Hijras’. They register them as 'males' and admit them in male wards. It is uncomfortable and humiliating” said Deeksha, a trans-woman.

A young trans-woman Rikshitha said, “I hate going to government hospitals. After asking me many embarrassing questions, they refused to treat me. Just because we do not fit traditional gender roles, does not mean we should suffer.”

Most healthcare professionals are not well acquainted with the treatment. After transgender undergo their sex reassignment surgery (SRS), doctors find it difficult to deal with this group’s particular needs as they do not have the required skills for it.

Dr. Madhusudhan G, a consultant plastic surgeon at BGS Global Hospital said, “Without the consent of a psychiatrist, we do not touch any patient who wants to transition to another gender. They have to get a clearance from the psychiatrist, and then only we do anything. It is difficult later to change what has already been done. Many patients then blame the doctors for what has happened to them.”

Dr. Bangalore N Jayaram, a consultant plastic surgeon at Colombia Asia Hospital said, “It’s true that not only common public but also healthcare professionals are not completely aware of the problems of the transgender. The reason is because it is not well publicized. Especially in India, these transgender are relegated to back corners of the society. Most are economically and some are educationally backward as well and their problem is not very well understood by the medical profession.”

He said that several of them want the operation reversed, but that is not possible. This has led to frustration and disappointment, resulting, sometimes, in suicide.

The Protection of Rights Bill 2016 says that the government shall take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centers, sex reassignment surgeries, etc. The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.


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