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PGFA Highlights | Developing competencies for trans-inclusive health professionals’ education in India

Banner reading: Community-based development of trans-affirmative health education in India

The project announced below was funded by the Provost's Global Faculty Awards funding opportunity, which supports UChicago faculty members' international collaborations in key regions where the University of Chicago has strong engagement, currently including mainland China, Hong Kong and East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. The Awards are open to all UChicago faculty and other academic appointees from all schools, divisions, and fields of discipline.

One of India’s leading public health research NGOs Sangath (, announces the launch of a new project towards developing competencies for trans-inclusive health professional education in India. Named as TransCare:MedEd, the project builds on an earlier project by Sangath called TransCare:COVID19 which is documenting the experiences of transgender persons in healthcare settings, especially during COVID19. Both the projects are planned in collaboration with the transgender community, with Dr. Aqsa Shaikh leading these collaborative activities. TransCare:MedEd is funded by the University of Chicago, under whose leadership, Dr. Satendra Singh and Dr. Khan Amir Maroof, collaborators, had earlier developed disability competencies which were included in the national competency-based medical curriculum by the erstwhile MCI in 2019. Dr Kirtana Pai will be the key collaborator representing KMC, Manipal.

Despite efforts for universal health access, transgender persons in India face unequal barriers in accessing healthcare. A major reason for this inequity is that the health professional education in India largely operates within the gender binary of male and female and has not worked to include Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) competencies. With the passing of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which mandates governments to take measures for “review of medical curriculum and research for doctors to address their [transgender] specific health issues” there is a need for a systematic, participatory, and inclusive effort to create trans-affirmative medical curricula. TransCare:MedEd aims to highlight global best practices in shared decision making for vulnerable communities and to create a set of core competencies on trans-affirmative healthcare for India.

This will be done through a series of regional consultative workshops with four different groups of stakeholders: transgender community members, transgender health professionals, health professionals with experience working with transgender persons and medical educators. The project will culminate with a national conference aimed at dissemination of the developed competencies to be held in Delhi in early 2022.

“Trans persons when in pain and suffering visit the healthcare professionals for treatment and relief. But often these healthcare spaces and providers become the reason for their added suffering, discrimination and abuse. Even those healthcare personnel who wish good are not competent in seeing a trans patient. Through this reformative exercise we hope to train future healthcare professionals for providing a dignified and trans-affirmative health care” says Dr. Aqsa Shaikh, Associate Professor of Community Medicine at Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research and a leading trans-rights advocate.

Dr. Satendra Singh, disability leader and Professor at University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi emphasized on the previous successful advocacy, “I was the Indian lead on the University of Chicago's 'Disability-inclusive Compassionate Care' project, which resulted in Disability Competencies and their subsequent implementation into the new medical curriculum in India. We intend to do the same with this initiative in order to eliminate the transphobic competencies still prevalent in the new competency-based curriculum. Policymakers never consulted the transgender community, and we are going to change that in line with the disability adage, "Nothing about us, without us."

“This project is the continuation of the TransCare collective’s efforts to continue our efforts to move towards trans-inclusive healthcare in India; building on our experience of TransCare COVID-19, TransCare Med-Ed will specifically focus on the need for identifying and acting on areas of reform in health professionals’ education. Sangath is committed to serving as a key anchor partner for the TransCare” says Dr. Anant Bhan, leading bioethicist and global health researcher who is the Sangath lead for this project.

“Providing affirming, compassionate care for gender and sexual minorities anywhere in the world requires major changes to institutionalized medical education. This community-based

approach across multiple Indian cities to develop trans health competencies is a major step towards bridging the health inequities faced by trans and gender non-binary people living in India. The University of Chicago is devoted to promoting such unique collaborations and cutting-edge curricular development. I am excited and deeply honored to be a part of such a novel program. I am also looking forward to how we can mutually learn from each other and implement similar initiatives within the United States medical education system.” says Dr. Anu Hazra, who is the project lead and Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago,

For further queries, contact:

Harikeerthan Raghuram, Project Coordinator, Sangath


Additional information:

Sangath is an Indian non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation committed to improving health across the life span by empowering existing community resources. Sangath addresses the psychological and social needs of people through comprehensive evidence-based interventions that combine humanitarian approaches

with science and innovative technological solutions.

Visit TransCare project webpage:

Visit TransCare:MedEd webpage:

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