India's first dedicated ward for trans-people opens up at GT Hospital, Mumbai

Following a Supreme Court ruling, the state-run GT hospital near Crawford Market has started a dedicated ward for transgender people. Kinnar Maa Trust welcomes the decision by the govt

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Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

Following the guidelines by the Apex Court, India's first transgender ward was inaugurated last week at the state-run GT Hospital near Crawford Market in Mumbai.

Dr Pallavi Saple, Dean of JJ Hospital, said, "The Supreme Court has given guidelines to reserve beds dedicated for transgender people in the hospital. Following which, last week, a dedicated ward for trans individuals was inaugurated in GT hospital. "

The hospitals have always had problems with how to treat transgender people. Their wards are categorically defined as male and female wards. There are no third-gender wards in the state-run hospitals.

"We were having great difficulty admitting our transgender people - whether to admit them as male or female. Most of the time we put them  in female wards but then a majority of the female patients had problems with that and we received many complaints from the hospitals. However, after this dedicated ward for the third-gender community,  it will be easy for us. Probably this move will be followed up by other hospitals also to open up a dedicated ward for our community," said Salma Khan, President of Kinnar Maa Trust. 

Transgender individuals have never been comfortable being looked upon as men. 

"We were queasy being admitted to male wards and female wards were quite comfortable although women there resisted us fiercely. Either they would not talk with transgender patients or keep staring at us. We never knew how to deal with them when they were also so unwell," added Salma. 

With the dedicated facility for trans people, the goverment hospital in Mumbai has plans to ensure dedicated service to be equally provided for the welfare of the community.  

Dr Saple added that the new ward is for general treatment and if a transgender person is brought in critical condition, the patient will be shifted to the ICU for necessary treatment. In case a patient is suffering from an infectious disease like tuberculosis, the individual will be admitted to another ward so that the infection can be controlled and not transmitted to other patients. 

Besides, the hospital has also started the facility of sero survey, mental health screening and a drug treatment centre for the community.

"The community has been facing lot of discomfort when kept in male/female wards. They don't want admissions in male wards and females in the wards show a lot of reservations if trans people are kept in their wards. Following this, a decision was made to have a separate ward for them," Dr Saple added. 

Gokuladas Tejpal (GT) hospital is under the flagship government-run JJ hospital. Dr Saple informed that they have sought suggestions of representatives of the community while designing the ward for them. To ensure proper care, the staff has also been given training and sensitised towards the community.  

Moreover, to serve the transgender population better, there is an advisory team which has vast experience of the problems faced by the community, she added. The ward consists of 30 beds, gender-neutral toilets, and examination and dressing rooms

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