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PLAFAM: Leading the Way in Trans Healthcare in Venezuela
PLAFAM, our local partner in Venezuela, is leading the way in ensuring that the transgender community has access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health services and is treated with dignity and respect.
In general, trans people face many barriers to accessing sexual health services, especially stigma, discrimination, and fear. Many healthcare providers may not be sensitive to trans issues or knowledgeable about the healthcare needs specific to trans individuals. In Venezuela, many trans patients are young and have limited economic resources, which limits their healthcare options even more.
PLAFAM is changing all of that. After working with sexually diverse clients for many years, PLAFAM started a program with the Canadian embassy last year to establish comprehensive specialized healthcare for trans individuals in Venezuela. It conducted focus groups with the trans community and worked hand in hand with other trans-interest and health organizations to implement and adapt the standards of care of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).
Not only did PLAFAM train and sensitize the healthcare staff at all four of its clinic to provide high-quality services to trans clients, it also sensitized staff from public hospitals and published educational material on the importance of comprehensive healthcare for trans individuals.
PLAFAM has also worked with the public to eliminate discrimination against the trans community. It has held film screenings and discussions in different regions of the country, and workshops for family and friends of trans individuals.
Currently, PLAFAM provides essential medical checkups to ensure that clients are transitioning safely; trans-friendly psychological services; and references, when needed, to health centers that they’ve sensitized to provide trans-friendly services.
These efforts have garnered much positive attention in the press, especially on television, because PLAFAM is creating a positive environment for everyone to have access to the services they need — and to live free from discrimination.
“Offering trans-friendly sexual health services is crucial, because trans individuals need access to healthcare, and generally have limited resources. We offer high-quality services at a low cost,” says Belmar Franceschi, Director of Programs at PLAFAM. “This can make all the difference for people to be able to have the best possible transition, taking care of their bodies and respecting their identity.”
*Photo: PLAFAM staff and representatives from the Canadian embassy in Venezuela develop program for trans services