Letter presented to the Chairperson of the Gender standing committee on behalf of Transgender community By Madame Jholerina Timbo and reads as stated below.
10 July 2017
Honorable Chair Ida Hofmann of the Gender committee, Honorable Deputy Chair Mr Kasuta, honorable Committee Members present of the Gender Standing Committee
To talk about Transgender people, we need to look at What is our understanding of Sexuality and Gender. We as the Transgender community don’t want special rights, all we ask for is Inclusion in national Policies and Prevention, treatment, care and support mechanisms and the Legal Framework of Namibia.
We face so much stigma and discrimination in our own country from our own people. Many leaders like to blame the west for everything that they don’t want to acknowledge, i was born and raised in Omaruru and assigned as male at birth. I was given typical male jobs around the house, but It never resonated with me.
When and how was I influenced by the west. The Namibian Constitution Article Ten talks about protection against discrimination and on what bases and it never talks about Gender Identity. We need to come together and dialogue to be able to understand each other. ignoring us as Namibians who are transgender will not change the challenges and situations in the country.
Article 7 of the Namibian Constitution talks about protection of liberty. Article 8 talks about respect for Human Dignity. But going to accesses services at public health care services we face tremendous stigma and discrimination. when we go to police station for help we get stigmatization and discrimination again. This issues have psychological impact on the transgender community and a lot of us end up abusing Alcohol and resorting to drug abuse because ,our own constituent isn’t clear on Gender identity issues and we never get help when we need it .Namibian law has no explicit provision protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination in accessing healthcare, but this protection is embodied in the principles of equality, dignity before the law and the commitment to improve public health in the Namibian Constitution. Barriers can take the form of outright prejudice and discrimination, such as when people are given sub-standard care or are turned away from a hospital or local clinic because of their sexual orientation or gender identity – or more subtle obstacles, such as when health professionals fail to take the time to understand the health needs of their LGBT patients.2 In Southern Africa, discrimination in health-care settings has been noted as both direct (refusal to see patients, derogatory labelling) and indirect (lack of sensitivity, lack of knowledge).3
Another obstacle to accessing healthcare services is the fear that confidentiality may be violated, meaning that the patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be revealed to a hostile public.4 Breaches of confidentiality may lead to stigma and violent reprisals, so a lack of confidence in doctor- patient confidentiality may discourage LGBT individuals from attempting to access healthcare.5
Yet another hurdle to accessing healthcare is the continued criminalization of consensual sodomy in many countries, including Namibia’s change is not about sexual orientation. Transgender and intersex persons may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual – just like anyone else.
In Namibia, legal rules issued under the laws which govern doctors and other members of the medical profession generally make it misconduct to share confidential information about a patient unless – the patient has given consent; the information is required to be divulged in court on the instructions of the presiding officer; or there is some law requiring that the information be disclosed.
Another issue of concern is whether medical aid schemes will cover the costs of gender re- assignment surgery or medical interventions relevant to intersexuality. One private medical aid fund consulted telephonically reported that it excludes coverage for gender re-assignment and for medical interventions pertaining to an intersex condition. PSEMAS (Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme) also excludes these interventions from coverage. This is an area where education and advocacy will be needed to push for change.
Religious Leaders and Cultural Leaders should be part and parcel of this Dialogues as they also incite Stigma and Discrimination. Many of us were brought up in Christian homes and still believe in God and would like to excessive the right to practice any religion we want to practice. Transgender people have been part of society in Namibia since before Independence, Because of the stigma and discrimination.
We humbly request this honored Body to take into account that we are Human before we are anything else, we are Born by Namibian people in Namibia and we need equal treatment when we seek Health care services, employment and the protection of our dignity with our Identity. We request this honored body to Table motions that are inclusive of Key Populations, their expressions, gender identities and sexual Orientations. There were others before us, we are here and there will be others after us, Ignoring and not addressing our needs and issues will not make it disappear but this is how Revolutions begins as people get tired of oppression to express their gender identities and suppression breeds hate and trust issues of systems that are meant to protect as they are exclusive.
Thank you for your time, we are most humbled.
Jholerina B Timbo
Wings To Transcend Namibia