In a bid to create a safe hub for transgender South Africans, the University of the Witwatersrand has set up a Reproductive Health Institute.
Transgender persons often become dependent on medical doctors, who facilitate access to the necessary procedures and medicines, many of whom are reportedly reluctant to assist.
According to a report, Trans people are prosecuted in every corner of the world, with laws designed to preserve public order used in at least 26 countries.
The director of the Human Dignity Trust, Tea Braun says Trans people “are targeted simply because they are different and because they are not conforming to (how) society or the church or the mosque tells people how they should behave.”
Hence, the new Reproductive Health Institute’s facility is targeted towards eradicating the stigma and prejudice transgenders often face while trying to access healthcare in the Rainbow Nation.
“Within five minutes I am done with everything and there is no criticism about the way I am,” a South African transgender woman, Tiny Williams told eNCA, adding that her previous experiences at public hospitals weren’t palatable. “When I go there asking for treatment, some they start gossiping about to you, laughing at you and the way you are that this person is gay,” she says.
Earlier this month, there was ground-breaking ruling in favour of a trans inmate who challenged South Africa’s discriminatory status quo. Jade September fought the state and won.
According to Zsa-Zsa Fisher from Wits Reproductive Health Institute, transgender women are at 49 per cent risk of contracting HIV than any other population in the world.
The Health Department says that the stigma around sexual orientation is a huge problem in our society, needing consistent education and it is constantly trying to create safe spaces for marginalized groups.
For a continent that largely still treats members of the LGBT community as second-class citizens, the move by the university is a major stride.
The Johannesburg facility is part of a 5-year USAID Award for advancing the South African HIV Response for Key Populations, Sex Workers, and Transgender individuals.