A human rights violation report released by TransWave Jamaica on Friday has indicated that 87 per cent of transgender individuals have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
The data was collected between June and November 2021 through Shared Incident Database (SID) and a focus group of 20 transgender people between the ages of 18 and 35 from a wide cross section of Jamaica.
The report also revealed that 14 per cent have been denied access to equal treatment, nearly 46 per cent have been verbally harassed, nine per cent physically attacked and 20 per cent sexually assaulted in the past year because of being transgender.
Shere Samuels, policy, advocacy and research manager at TransWave Jamaica said transgender people are frequently victimised in areas such as health care, employment, and public spaces.
“As a result, they are often prone to experience high rates of violence, including physical attacks, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and gender-based violence,” said Samuels, who was speaking at TransWave's launch of three human rights reports at Spanish Court Hotel in St Andrew last Friday.
This was done to mark Human Rights Day, which was also celebrated Friday under the theme, 'Equality'.
The two other reports launched were National Trans Health Advocacy Plan and Gender Recognition Legislation Framework. The reports were developed in partnership with Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and United Nations Population Fund.
Speaking about the health proposal, the organisation's Media Communications Manager MX Williams said it was designed to eliminate stigma and discrimination towards trans communities and to advance trans health, and human rights. Williams said key recommendations are provided to the Government, trans communities, health sector, and human rights advocates.
“The Government should protect trans people from discrimination by creating rights-based programmes, engaging the trans community to be empowered, amplify their voices for human rights, empower the health sector, and equip them with the skills to provide safe spaces and safe care for trans people. It is also for human rights advocates to integrate these issues into their own advocacy nationally,” Williams added.
Meanwhile, focusing on the Gender Recognition Legislation Framework, consultant at TransWave Glenroy Murray said it should help to reduce transgender people's experiences of discrimination and to achieve the goal of equality.
“If you think about how society is organised, you might have gender-specific wards on hospitals, gender-specific prisons…those things are influenced by the fact that we see gender in a particular way and that is why we are having this conversation. They impact how trans people engage with the rest of society,” he said.
Executive director at TransWave Renae Green told the Jamaica Observer after the launch that the documents aren't introducing new policies, but are actually “pointing to systems in place that already impact society. What we are saying is that they should be inclusive of rights of transgender people”.
She said the documents, which will be made available to the public next week, should create more awareness and establish avenues for more partnerships to strengthen the goal of transgender equality.
“We are not expecting that these things we are asking for will happen overnight. Of course, we understand that it will take time to get people to understand why these things are so important. It means we are going to have to do a lot of sensitisation and a lot of work on our communities,” Green said.