A three-day training focused on strategies in implementing Transgender people and HIV programmes in seven Latin American countries

The IRGT: A Global Network of Trans Women and HIV along with the local host organizations, Asociación REDTRANS Nicaragua and regional organization RED Trans Peru, and with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and LINKAGES conducted a successful three-day workshop training in Managua, Nicaragua.

Community leaders, activists, transgender health educators, and ministers of health from seven different countries in the Latin America (El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua) participated in an interactive training focused on the TRANSIT service delivery model. Participant teams received guidance on the development of a country specific action plan for implementation of strategies for community engagement and public health approaches for transgender people and HIV for each country.

The meeting was organized and facilitated by the three Spanish-speaking members (JoAnne Keatley, Jana Villayzan and Alexandra Rodriguez De Ruiz) of the IRGT: A Global Network of Trans Women and HIV. The training was primarily based on the guidance and tools developed over the last several years by the IRGT with support from Robert Carr Network Fund (RCNF), WHO, UNFPE, UNAIDS and PEPFAR among others. Tools included in the training were the TRANSIT, the LAC Blueprint for Transgender Health Care, and the WHO Policy brief on Transgender people and HIV.

Utilizing a template provided by the IRGT, all countries successfully developed action plans that included activities for each of the areas addressed by chapter in the Transit. The plans included the list of activities, persons responsible for each, timeline, resources needed and any technical assistance needs for implementation. Our follow up plans include providing each country written feedback on their plans and to follow up should technical assistance be available to help support implementation strategies.

Building Self-Sustainability in Trans-Led Movements, One Training at a Time

Article written by Mahri Bahati

A recently convened training of trainers in Bangkok, Thailand is certain to make waves in the movement for trans health and human rights. Over the course of five days from 18 -22 July 2017, the IRGT and MSMGF joined forces to convene a group of thirteen trans-identified individuals from 12 countries to deliver a training of trainers for the Trans Education + Action = Capacity for Health (TEACH) organizational development and capacity building curriculum.

Globally, many trans-led organizations lack the resources, support, capacity, and infrastructure to be self-sustaining and therefore struggle to meet the specific HIV care and prevention needs of their own population. In response to this problem, IRGT leadership conceived the idea of identifying, training, and nurturing a cohort of trans individuals who could then work with trans-led organizations within their respective regions to address these issues.

TEACH is an initiative spearheaded by the IRGT in partnership with MSMGF. Following a funding award from Viiv Healthcare Positive Action, IRGT worked with MSMGF as an implementing partner to operationalize the project, leveraging the experience and expertise of both organizations to get the project off of the ground.

The aim of TEACH is to equip trans individuals and trans-led organizations with the necessary knowledge to be self-sustainable and build comprehensive programs that meet the HIV care and prevention needs specific to trans people. The TEACH curriculum is designed to be delivered via 15 modules covering topics in strategic planning and organizational management, designing comprehensive interventions for transgender women and men, financial management, resource mobilization and proposal writing, as well as community collaboration.

The significance of this gathering was not lost on the participants. Remarking on how the experience surpassed expectations and how she can see this effort snowballing to strengthen a vibrant, global trans movement, Rikki Nathanson noted,

“TEACH is the conduit to employ to begin this journey…one regional workshop will capacitate not only one organization [but] at least ten to fifteen. As these organizations begin to grow, and others mushroom, the momentum of growth of the trans diverse movement will increase, thereby increasing from strength to strength.”

Amidst discussions of budgets, logical frameworks, and strategic plans, time was also given for participants to engage with and strengthen each other, including a culminating graduation party and celebration. Participants greatly appreciated the ability to network and forge connections in addition to exchanging knowledge and furthering their professional development.

“When planning to convene groups of people, it is easy to think only about the learning objectives, logistics, and making sure nothing goes wrong. But when it’s actually happening you notice that a dynamic is occurring that you never expected,” noted Co-Facilitator, Mahri Bahati. “People are connecting in ways you didn’t imagine. People are being changed by just being in the room with so many other empowered trans women.”

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No More Lip Service: What does this moment mean to you? Kanyanta Kakana, Zambia

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

I work as an independent trans advocate in Zambia with a focus on advocacy around the trans identity, HIV and the health and human rights of trans individuals.

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

The Trans Pre-Conference is existent to me to be seen and utilized as a space to teach as well as learn about different contexts of trans people around the world with a focus of key intersecting issues affecting the trans community.

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

They are many things that are significant about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism. one thing I would say is important is the inclusion of trans people in different bodies and systems of many different societies and contexts. Visibility is playing a huge role in this as it is helping with the enforcement and the fighting for the rightful inclusions in these spaces to provide for the accurate needs of trans people.

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

More of the conversation around inclusion happening as well as the strategic planning of this going forward providing assurance for trans people going forward.

No More Lip Service: What does this moment mean to you? EriKa Castellanos, Belize

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

I am a member and country focal point for the Latin-American and Caribbean Network of Trans People (REDLACTRANS). REDLACTRANS main goals is to improve the quality of life of Transgender people in the region. Our main activities include public education/sensitization to reduce stigma and discrimination, advocacy for implementation of gender identity laws int he region and respect of our human rights with an emphasis on health.

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

The Trans pre-conference is exciting since it will give us an opportunity to learn and network with other trans organizations globally in addition to providing us with a space to share the work we do in the region.

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

With the Global momentum and focus on Trans issues we should ensure that our needs are met and we should be united in a global voice to adequately advocate for the necessary changes we need. This pre-conference is the perfect platform for developing this common agenda and building on our strengths.

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

I would like to see a Global Trans community that builds in our differences and works from a strengths perspective to identify a common ground for trans activist globally. In my region I wish for the beginning of a global engagement and successful networking.

No More Lip Service: What does this Moment Mean to You? Simran Shaikh, India

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

India HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance India) is a non-governmental organisation that builds capacity, provides technical support and advocates to strengthen the
delivery of effective, innovative, rights-based, community-based HIV programmes to vulnerable populations affected by the AIDS epidemic. The organization works closely with National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), State AIDS Control Society (SACS), and community-based organizations in an effort to build an AIDS free society. Our mission is to support community action to prevent HIV infection, meet the challenges of AIDS, and build healthier communities.

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

Pre Conference on Transgender issues is happening for the first time in history. Henceforth as a transgender activist from India who belong to Hijra culture is extremely important to be present to discuss crucial issues around Asia Pacific communities.

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

As mentioned before this trans conference is going to raise the crucial issues around trans leadership and involvement in the lager global context. it will also create new opportunities for advocacy, networking and prioritizing trans agenda in the AIDS response.

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

After the Pre conference I anticipate actions and leaderships around trans issues. I also anticipate that in AIDS response transgender issues will be high lighted strongly, more resources will be invested and it will bring a young leadership in action. It will influence the stakeholders and police makers to act rather then just giving lip services.

No More Lip Service: What does this moment mean to you? Maria Sundin, Sweden

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

I’m a IRGT member since 2011, I’ve been a board member of RFSL – the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights for many year as well of Transgender Europe. Having worked with Trans health and humans rights for the past 25 year. I also work with the depathologazion Trans Identities and the revision of WHO’s ICD-10 as a member of the GATE Expert Group. I serve on the Steering Committee of MSMGF. Being a Clinical Social Worker I also work with developing the first medical interdisciplinary quality register for transgender health care which will be put in operation, after four years of work in the fall of 2016.

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

It is the final evidence that Transgender women and Trans folks is one of the four Key populations in the combat against HIV and no longer conflated mwith MSM. It is indeed a breakthrough for IRGT and placing Trans on the Global HIV/AIDS map!

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

The opportunity to gather such a big group of trans people, theirallies and important stakeholders. And as said before, it is one of the important frontiers in Global Trans Advocacy against HIV!

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

In Europe and above all in Eastern Europe and Central Asia I hope that we see a number of emerging Trans led advocacy and action groups in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and much more awareness raising.

I want to see a much stronger trans movement globally and see TRANSIT be used on a broad scale!

No More Lip Service: What does this moment mean to you? Alexandra Rodriguez, Mexico

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

I am a freelance consultant on gender and sexuality and I do advocacy work for transgender individuals as well as trans-migrants, sex workers and transwomen living with HIV

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

Because it is a great opportunity to network and exchange ideas, information and knowledge with other people from all over the world

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

To give visibility to the the great need of services and health care specifically for transgender individuals.

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

I would like to see more health care accesible to trans people and to be specifically for transgender men and women. Also, I like to see more community outreach to work on HIV prevention and more programs to empower transwomen, transmigrants and trans sexworkers.


Also, I think it is time now that trans people are classified individually and be separated from the “MSM” spectrum. Now more than ever it is imperative to recognize that transgender women of color are some of the populations more affected by HIV and AIDS.

First Ever Global Conference on Transgender People and HIV

The IRGT: A Global Network of Trans Women and HIV, is hosting the first ever global Transgender Pre-Conference on 17 July 2016. The Pre-Conference will take place immediately prior to the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Since its inception, the IRGT has worked largely around the International AIDS Conference to develop advocacy strategies and to create networking opportunities towards advancing the priority concerns of trans communities worldwide. Composed of members from diverse parts of the world, the IRGT is responsible for initiating and promoting advocacy on trans health and rights as they relate to HIV/AIDS.

The theme of this year’s Pre-Conference is “No more lip service, trans access, equity and rights, now!” in recognition of the long struggle for equitable inclusion of trans people at this important global convening. IRGT intends to use the occasion as an opportunity to connect our network of advocates with donors, policy and research experts, and government officials, as well as to disseminate and to orient attendees to the TRANSIT. In addition, IRGT is organizing a networking zone in the Global Village, which will run during the week of AIDS 2016. IRGT plans to use that space to hold discussions about TRANSIT, to highlight the important work being done by trans led organizations around the world and forge stronger connections between our network of advocates.

More info to come!