This is an anonymous account of a Transgender Woman seeking healthcare in Mbale city. This represents the dire conditions that are sometimes faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community while exercising their fundamental right to accessing quality healthcare.
I am a transgender woman living in Masanda cell, Musoto in Mbale city in Uganda. I have been seeking health care services including on my sexual and reproductive health in a government health hospital because I cannot afford care in a private health facility. They charge a lot.
On 29 May 2023, I went to seek medication from the hospital and I regretted going there. I was treated badly. It was the worst day of my life. When I entered the medication room, I found a nurse. She looked at me for some minutes. She then asked me …how can I help you… I told her about the pain I was having, discharge and the discomfort. Her face just changed. She started asking me ..why did you get the infection… why don’t you be normal like other people instead of trying so hard to be what you are not. I became confused. But because I was in pain, I did not have money to go to a private health facility, I tried to remain calm and humble so that she could help me.
She then asked… are you aware of the confusion you people have brought? We are now being hated by the community members, members of parliament and family members because of your acts. She told me…. my job is my security… it supports me and my children and I cannot loose it because of you. Look for someone else to help you.
I left heart broken, confused and in pain. I went out and sat on a bench outside. I kept looking at the health workers passing in their white jackets. I feared to open up to another medical worker there, so I just left. But I just wondered why did she treated me that way because I had received health care in that very hospital.
I went to report my case to the NGO which supports transgender people in Mbale. I wanted them to ask that nurse why she humiliated me especially after listening to my private matters, which she was recording and later she did not even help me. The NGO told me the climate was not good. They advised me to seek medical support from a private clinic. They gave me names of two private clinics and a contact phone of one person.
I am worried that the hospital staff have my health information now, they recorded and kept it and rather than help me with my pain they drove me away. I don’t even know what information was recorded and I am afraid to go and ask for my health record. I am also afraid this information could now be used against me, especially given the attitude of the nurse and the current climate in the country. I need medical care and I can’t afford a private clinic, but I am now afraid of going back to the public hospital. I am feeling desperate.