U.S. supports transgender health clinics in India

Seventeen people posing for group photo on stage (State Dept./Saadia Dayal)
Attendees pose for a group photo at the opening ceremony of the transgender clinic in Kolkata, India, on February 27, 2020. (State Dept./Saadia Dayal)

The United States supports and advocates for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) people everywhere.

In India — where transgender people are medically underserved and frequently encounter bias, discrimination and violence — the U.S. proudly supports communities working to open health clinics that provide India’s transgender community with access to quality health care.

“The United States supports the empowerment of the transgender and gender non-conforming community,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 31 for the International Transgender Day of Visibility. “We will continue to work with civil society, like-minded governments, and other human rights defenders” to stand up for LGBTQI+ rights around the world.

In India, these collaborations are already underway. In February 2020, Peerless Hospital, a private hospital in Kolkata, opened the first transgender clinic in eastern India with the help of U.S. Consulate General Kolkata.

Women smiling and cutting ribbon in front of door (State Dept./Saadia Dayal)
Dr. Shashi Panja (center), the Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare in West Bengal, and Monica Shie (right), with the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, cut a ribbon at the opening of the Kolkata clinic on February 27, 2020. (State Dept./Saadia Dayal)

The clinic is an outcome of the U.S. consulate’s Rainbow Talks initiative, which supports the nongovernmental organization Prantakatha by providing a safe space for leaders of gender minority communities to come together, conduct sensitivity workshops for health care providers and discuss issues.

The community activists worked with Peerless Hospital to create a separate health care clinic to serve transgender people, who were not welcome in the traditional female and male wards of the hospital.

The clinic — named Antar, meaning “inner self” — serves the transgender community by providing primary care and health screenings by general practitioners twice a month.

The South Asian Young Queer Activists Network, also formed during the consulate’s Rainbow Talks, helps support transgender health on the ground and continues to work with U.S. Consulate General Kolkata. This group has been involved in a wide array of public health initiatives, like helping train transgender women as nurses in Kolkata and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

More recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, helped launch the Transgender Health and Wellness Centre in Imphal, Manipur, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences. The center brings improved access to health care, and specifically HIV/AIDS medical care, for transgender men and women in northeast India.

In coordination with the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, the CDC worked with implementing partner I-TECH India, local communities, the Manipur State AIDS Control Society and National AIDS Control Organization to launch the clinic.

“The United States is committed to working with like-minded governments and civil society organizations to support and advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. We are here today in support of that vision,” said U.S. Consul General Patti Hoffman at the March 25 opening of the clinic. “This successful inauguration demonstrates the strong partnership and health cooperation between the United States and India.”