First ever regional Caribbean trans network launches
23 April 2019
The United Caribbean Trans Network (UCTRANS) is the first Caribbean initiative that will bring trans voices together to advocate on behalf of the Caribbean trans community. Supported by GiveOut under The Antonia & Andrea Belcher Trans Fund, the network’s remit will be to promote the protection and recognition of the human rights of trans persons in the region.
Historically, transgender people in the Caribbean have experienced structural gender-based violence throughout their lives, which impedes their access to services and contributes to poor health outcomes and quality of life. In the region, trans people experience economic, physical and sexual violence–and other human rights violations–based on their gender identity and expression. There is entrenched and widespread discrimination against transgender persons across the Caribbean, including but not limited to the lack of legal gender recognition. This results in a cycle of exclusion from social and civic participation; violence, harassment and stigmatisation, limited access to legal protection, justice and redress, and inadequate provision of healthcare services.
The lack of access to adequate healthcare services is linked to the high prevalence of HIV among transgender people in the Caribbean. Estimates show that HIV prevalence for transgender women in the region ranges from 8% to 31% and there are very few HIV care programmes that address their specific needs.
UCTRANS envisages a network that highlights issues experienced by all trans people and will ensure that trans-masculine and non-binary people are represented. They will work in conjunction with their communities and governments to champion the human rights protection and healthcare needs of trans people, as well as to provide support in leadership, governance and strategic guidance to the local transgender movements across the region, including those in Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Dominican Republic, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Haiti.
Alexus D’Marco, Chair of UCTRANS, said:
“We need to correct this harmful behaviour and we need our governments and policymakers to stand by us. We need to strengthen and develop together as a unified Caribbean region, where every human being receives respect and recognition of the rights they are entitled to.
“We need a Caribbean where trans people are free from stigma and discrimination, can enjoy supportive, human rights-based policy frameworks and legal gender identity recognition, and have access to progressive and efficient transgender-focused healthcare, education and the formal job market.”
UCTRANS urges the Caribbean governments to fulfil international human rights obligations and honour the diversity that characterises the Caribbean region, joining efforts to protect and recognize the rights of trans persons and to grant gender identity recognition through expedited administrative procedures.
Neish Mclean, Vice-Chair of UCTRANS, said:
“On behalf of UCTRANS, I'd like to express gratitude to Antonia Belcher, who, through the Antonia and Andrea Belcher Fund pledged her support to the network in its infancy. The network is grateful for the collaboration and partnership with GiveOut that aided in the execution of a much-needed convening to begin our work uniting the various trans movement across the Caribbean region.”
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UCTRANS (@uctransnetwork) is the first Caribbean initiative that will bring trans voices together to advocate on behalf of the Caribbean trans community. The network is chaired by trans Bahamian activist Alexus D’Marco and is made up of activist groups from across the region, including: Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Dominican Republic, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Haiti.
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