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P3.436 Improving Strategies in Identifying Transgender Women Clients Towards Data Disaggregation in the Philippine Integrated HIV Behavioural and Serological Surveillance (IHBSS)
  1. R N Cortes
  1. Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare, Inc., Pasay City, Philippines


Since 2007, the Philippine Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serological Surveillance (IHBSS) still lump the transgender (TG) women population with men having sex with men (MSM), which is a socio-political issue among empowered Filipino TG women. Recognizing similar sexual behaviour risks among MSM and TG women, the latter associated with body modifications concept(i.e. hormone replacement, collagen injections/implants) have a heightened risk due to unsafe and improper injecting practises. Thus, the ISEAN-Hivos Program (IHP) (a Global Fund Multi-country Grant) in the Philippines, through consultations with the TG community, aims to develop an operational TG definition that would hopefully be feasible in a national surveillance.

The method used was the conduct of four (4) focus group discussions (FGDs) with TG women members (with 5–10 participants each FGD) from community-based organisations (CBOs) in Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City.

The findings revealed that majority of the participants do not generally agree with the three (3) proposed qualifiers/criteria in identifying TG women used in the IHBSS 2011 MSM questionnaire. “Looks like a female” is subjective; “Taking/injecting hormones” is not necessary; and those who have “undergone sex reassignment surgery” would identify themselves as a non-TG woman. Some of the suggestions are the inclusion of a time element in one’s gender identification/expression to eliminate those who just occasionally identifies/express themselves as female; consider any form of affirming one’s identity as a woman; and the use of three (3) questions - asking one’s sex assigned birth, gender identity and gender expression.

The study concludes with IHP-Philippines’ proposed operational definition of TG women: those whose sex assigned birth is male; and whose gender identity is generally female and/or whose gender expression is generally feminine. They need not undergo any form of body modification, may have varying sexual orientations, and may self-identify using various local gender terms.

  • definition
  • Transgender

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