LGBT folks, activists, and even a few medical professionals have claimed that some healthcare providers themselves are transphobic and homophobic, and remain largely uninformed about non-standard sexual orientation and gender identity issues. It is a given that healthcare should to be discrimination-free. We speak to some healthcare leaders to further explore the ground reality.
Out of the LGBT, lesbians, gays and bisexuals probably face less discrimination as against the transgenders. When you go to a hospital, say for a fever, you don’t necessarily have to disclose your sexual orientation. If he/she has depression, he/she disclose it to a psychiatrist/psychologist. Whereas for transgenders, just based on their appearance, people might discriminate. I think it is very necessary to have a transgender category in the registration and admission forms of hospital to acknowledge them.
Although hospitals do not have any LGBT- specific policies, we strictly treat everybody equally at our hospital. Not a single doctor have ever complained about LGBT patients or refused treatment to them. If they are averse to treating any patient based on their sexual orientation, he/she will be made to leave the hospital that very day. Our hospital has done surrogacy for gays and lesbians couples; we have never faced any problems.
There are no specific healthcare policies for LGBT community. However, as a hospital policy we don’t discriminate. We get many transgenders patients. We have a Anti-retroviral therapy centre at the hospital where many HIV-positive transgenders are admitted and no one discriminates, not the doctor, nor the non-LGBT patients. We have never received any complaints till date.
There are no specific LGBT-related policies or framework for hospitals. Ideally, we should not refuse them treatment. They are humans too. However, if doctors refuse to treat them, there is little the hospital can do. I have never come across a transgender patient in my career. In my personal view, we should not refuse medical care to anyone.
We treat members of LGBT community equally. We have gender reassignment surgery available at our hospital. We have done 62 full gender reassignment surgeries. There is a set protocol and policy.
As a reconstructive neurologist, I have done a great deal of reconstructive work on the Hijra community in my early days.This sensitized me to transgender issues and I educated myself on gender reconstructive surgery. In 2009, our hospital started gender reassignment surgery ,and in 2010, it established Mumbai’s first gender reassignment clinic. At our hospital, we look forward to providing them private, comfortable and safe space and improve their quality of life. We sensitized our staff to the LGBT community and our management has been extremely supportive of this initiative. All staff, from the sweeper to the healthcare providers to the management need to be on the same page too when it comes to treating them fairly and equally.As a member of World Professional Association for Transgender Health, I look at how to extend the best healthcare practices to this community. India needs to be sensitised to the situation!