Local Advocate to Attend International Transgender Symposium in Thailand


Jenetta Marie Johnson, an African American Transgender advocate, wants to go to Bangkok, Thailand to be a voice for incarcerated Transgenders and especially Transgenders of color at a symposium she says is dominated by the white and wealthy Transgenders.

Johnson, who represents Transgender GenderVariant Intesex Justice Project, has been invited to be on a panel at the 24th World Professional Association for Transgender Health International Symposium in Thailand. The organization promotes evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy and respect in transgender health.

Webster’s defines gender as a societal or behavioral aspect of sexual identity. The term Transgender (TG) is actually an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of gender expressions including, cross-dresser, bi-gender, and transsexual and according to Johnson the list continues to grow.

Estimates show that the TG population makes up only one to five percent of the general population, while the population is highly vulnerable and marginalized, facing discrimination commonly, when seeking to obtain basic necessities, such as employment, housing, and healthcare.

Common are reports of violence and harassment, even from their own family members. It is directly because of these and other factors that transgenders, especially transgenders of color, experience severe health disparities including HIV.

The Transgender GenderVariant Intesex Justice Project is located in Oakland, providing assistance to Transgenders, transwomen of color who are in incarcerated and those getting out of custody.

Johnson wants the chance to speak about incarcerated TG people and their health needs.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to attend, and I truly believe in my heart that I can make a difference by sharing my experience with the medical and mental health providers who will also be attending,” she said. “My goal in attending (the symposium) is to speak directly about the needs and issues faced by transgender people in prisons.”

She says that their organization, receives over 25 letters a month from TG inmates complaining about physical and sexual abuse behind bars.

Johnson has been through some bumpy roads herself, 13 and years in Florida prisons, for drug distributing. She looked for help but had difficulty finding services for Transgenders in Florida.

In 1997, Johnson came to the Bay It was in San Francisco that she blossomed, she said, getting educated, empowered, finding a place of worship. She soon became a service provider, helping others with the issues she had overcome.

At least 5,000 transgenders persons are estimated to call the Bay Area their home.

At the symposium in Bangkok, professionals, scientist and Transgender advocates from all over the world will gather together to present the latest advances in research, education, clinical service, and advocacy to promote the health and well being of transgender and transsexual people and their families.

Topics that will be addressed are primary care, psychiatry, endocrinology and surgery, gender and sexuality, speech and voice therapy, as well as other issues relevant to transgender heath.

They will also make recommendations to The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, who is in the process of developing the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is the standard set of definitions of diseases and health conditions used throughout most of the world.



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