A new initiative by the Kerala government puts the state miles ahead of others in India in the field of transgender rights. Months after the government decided to employ several transgender employees in the Kerala metro, health minister KK Shailaja has declared that all state-run medical colleges and hospitals will soon have clinics meant for transgender people.
The first such clinic is already functioning in Kottayam Medical College for the past three months and the government plans to extend its services to more in the coming days. Right now, on a trial basis, the clinic operates on the first Tuesday of the month in Kottayam.
The News Minute reports that the government has announced that such clinics will be opened in all state-run medical colleges and hospitals and will operate every Tuesday of the week for the first few months.
"A team of five doctors who are all specialists in separate fields, including general medicine, psychiatry, dermatology, endocrinology and plastic surgery, extend their services in the clinic," the report says.
The Times of India reports that the government is also planning to open two surgical wings for people who want to undergo sex reassignment surgeries. The first one will be opened in Kottayam within a month and a second one will come up soon after.
In May this year, the Kerala government appointed 23 transgender people to various posts in the state-run Kochi Metro rail. However, within days of their appointment, eight of them quit because residents of the city were unwilling to rent houses to them. Or worse still were charging them extra-high rent.
Since most of these facilities will be primarily run by cis gender people, which may lead to trans men and women feeling uncomfortable, the government plans to employ transgender volunteers to ease the process.
The Kottayam clinic was opened in May this year and had treated over 50 patients in less that two months, Scroll reported in July this year.
Dr Varghese P Punnoose, head of the department pf psychiatry of Kottayam Medical College and Hospital told Scroll, "We have adopted a unique style of functioning in which all doctors will be available for consultation from 10 am to 2 pm on the first Tuesday of every month. This multi-disciplinary approach helps the doctors discuss the conditions of the patients and seek opinions from other doctors."
Shailaja told PTI that the government has earmarked a budget of Rs 10 crore for the welfare of transgender people in the state.
"There is a stigma on transgender identity in the health sector also. I hope that the TG clinics will not only address our health issues but also create an awareness about us among the public," she told PTI.
As this HuffPost India article had observed, while government's initiative are a welcome move, the general public has to be sensitized enough to make transgender people comfortable in regular workplaces and other public spaces where they feel ostracised. Here's hoping the Kerala government is able to overcome these hurdles as well.
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