Thai transgenders leading in setting up healthcare services

Thailand’s transgender people have demonstrated leadership in setting up gender-affirming healthcare services for their communities – the first such example in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the respected British medical journal The Lancet.

That point was illustrated at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada, by Rena Janamnuaysook of Thailand who spoke at the gathering about the transgender community’s work in responding to the epidemic. Rena is one of the co-founders of Thai Transgender Alliance, the first transgender-owned human rights organization in Thailand.

Rena gave credit to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health for becoming more inclusive during the past five years and doing more to provide transgender people with care under its universal health coverage plan.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have repeatedly praised Thailand’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, noting that the Kingdom’s comprehensive approach has saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

The Lancet wrote “transgender-specific data could benefit efforts in Asia to identify gaps in HIV response for transgender people.” Consequently, transgender people in Thailand have led by example in setting up gender-affirming healthcare services for their communities – the first of their kind in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

“Currently, in Thailand, like in many other Asian countries, gender-affirming care for transgender populations has not yet been supported or subsidized under universal health coverage,” Rena said.

“But since the past five years we have been actively working closely with the Thai Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Security Office to include gender-affirming care for transgender populations in the universal health coverage,” she added.

Rena also serves as Programme Manager for Transgender Health at the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI) in Bangkok, Thailand.

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