Are you involved with the well-being of transgender refugees in the Netherlands? Then you’ll find useful information on this page regarding access to proper healthcare and personal companion contact.
With TNN you can file a report on transgender asylum seekers experiencing problems at their shelter of residence. This can, for instance, be problems pertaining to access to healthcare, discrimination by fellow asylum seekers, separation from their partner, or not being allowed to file a report of intimidation, or on violence or other unwanted behaviour in- and outside of the asylum seeker centre.
Leniency Arrangement transgender care in asylum seeker centres
For transgender refugees and asylum seekers who started their medical transition before their flight to the Netherlands a Leniency Arrangement was made earlier this year to grant access to hormonal recipes in the shelters they reside in.
The Regulation Care Asylum Seekers (Regeling Zorg Asielzoekers, RZA) does not cover transgender care. At the insistence of COC Netherlands and TNN, the Ministry of Security and Justice has adopted the Leniency Arrangement. In point of fact, this means that the RZA remains unamended, but for the above-mentioned group of trans individuals an exception will be made.
Transgender refugees and asylum seekers, however, are expected to notify the resident physician of the shelter of the existence of this Leniency Arrangement and of their wish to make use of it. The Leniency Arrangement is intended for trans persons who, before fleeing to the Netherlands, already made use of hormonal prescriptions. The resident physician of the asylum seeker centre (Azielzoekerscentrum, AZC) is required to prescribe them a fitting hormonal treatment and to arrange the measuring of the blood level once every three months. The prescribed medication and blood level checkup is to be covered by the resident’s health insurance.
Since hormonal medication in the country of origin was often acquired illegally, the residing physician at the AZC should not and may not expect the trans refugee to furbish evidence in the form of prescriptions from a physician previously in attendance. The refugee has to be taken at their, his or her word.
Healthcare status holders in AZCs
It can take a fair amount of time before asylum seekers are assigned housing after they have been granted a legal resident status. In many cases, the asylum seeker is forced to stay in an AZC while awaiting assigned housing. This also happens to transgender refugees and asylum seekers. Understandably, they may be under the impression that they cannot take out health insurance, and consequently that they cannot be referred to a gender team.
After making some inquiries with the Ministry of Security and Justice, we found that refugees and asylum seekers get registered or can register themselves in the municipality of their AZC. In principle, they will then possess all the required information to take out a health insurance policy. However, in terms of income they will still fall under the AZC regime, which renders health insurance unaffordable. Should a transgender refugee or asylum seeker have the financial means (for instance from working wages or savings) to take out a health insurance, he or she could go to a family doctor for referral to a gender team.
Talks with Transvisie
Patient organisation Transvisie has volunteers available for more personal ‘companion contact’ with transgender refugees in the form of one or more individual talks. For further information, please contact the Transvisie secretariat by telephone: 030-410 02 03, or by e-mail.
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