ST ANN, Jamaica — Representatives of transgender groups across the Caribbean region gathered in St Ann, Jamaica for a three-day meeting that took place from January 8 – 10, 2018. The meeting was attended by 20 representatives from 11 countries.
The meeting, which was hosted by Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) in collaboration with IRGT (a global network of trans women and HIV), sought to support the establishment of a Caribbean regional trans network. The network will serve to champion the human rights and healthcare needs of transgender persons as well as to provide support in leadership, governance and strategic guidance to the local transgender movements in the region, including those in Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Dominican Republic, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Haiti.
There is entrenched and widespread discrimination against transgender persons across the Caribbean including: no legal recognition of transgender people’s gender identity in most countries. This results in exclusion from social and civic participation; harassment and stigmatization; limited access to legal protection, justice and redress; and inadequate provision of healthcare services. Transgender people are also more susceptible to violence, including physical and sexual violence.
Data on HIV prevalence among transgender persons are very limited in the region but where available, they indicate significantly higher rates of HIV prevalence. Estimates show that HIV prevalence for transgender women in the region range from 8% to 31% and there are very few HIV care programmes that address their specific needs.
The conference also provided an opportunity for transgender-led groups to showcase their work, learn from each other, explore innovative approaches to addressing stigma and discrimination as well as to deepen their understanding of innovative approaches to addressing the challenges in the regional HIV response.
The meeting was funded by a three-year, Regional Global Fund Project titled “Challenging Stigma and Discrimination to Improve Access to and Quality of HIV Services in the Caribbean”, which is being implemented by CVC in partnership with Centro De Orientacion E Investigacion Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic. Support is also provided under a grant from the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund (RCNF) to the Consortium of the Global Forum on MSM.