The Asia-Pacific Transgender Network was launched in December 2009, when 15 transgender women from 10 Asia and Pacific countries and regions came together to champion the health, legal and social rights of transgender women. A milestone in the history of transgender people in the region, they demanded recognition as a distinct demographic group with their unique needs, separate from the MSM umbrella. In 2011, a transgender man drew attention to the need to advocate for transgender men and joined the APTN Board.
Globally, transgender women in particular face higher risks of HIV – 49 times higher than the risk faced by the general population (Barai, the Lancet 2013) – since many engage in sex work or transactional sex because of employment discrimination and lack of economic opportunities. APTN recognises the issue of HIV affecting the lives of transgender people and advocates for improved access to appropriate prevention, treatment and care services, linked with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Network has published several key reports, policy and technical briefs in partnership with other groups and multilateral organisations highlighting key issues affecting transgender people and has developed a set of recommendations to protect and promote transgender rights.
APTN provides a platform for transgender people to voice their views at meetings and workshops, in advocacy development, programme planning, implementation and evaluation of projects, and to promote their inclusion in National Strategic Plans and development partners’ action plans. APTN was also involved in planning activities at the first World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) meeting in Bangkok in February 2014, the first held in Asia.