Indian Trans 2015 PTHC Conference Participant’s US Visa Held Up

2013 Philadelphia Trans Health ConferenceFor those of you who have been attending the upcoming Philadelphia Trans Health Conference that will happen June 4-6 for years, you are quite aware of the fact that the largest trans conference in the United States has garnered a well earned and growing international reputation.

Last year when I attended my first PTHC, I was pleased to discover there were folks from several nations walking those Pennsylvania Convention Center halls and doing panels. 

I met a trans brother from South Africa during one of the panel discussions I’d attended, and had a fascinating conversation with him after it concluded about trans issues in his nation.

Since the trans human rights movement is an international human rights movement, anything we can do as Americans to educate and inform ourselves about what is happening internationally is a bonus to what we are trying to do here.

One of those international trans people invited to participated in this year’s 14th edition of PTHC is India’s Amruta Soni.  She is an Advocacy Officer for the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust and is scheduled to speak at PTHC about trans people living with HIV in India on June 5, but the granting of her US visitor’s visa has been held up.

The Indian government has enacted a policy that took effect in April which allows trans people in that nation to use a third gender option, denoted by a ‘T’ in the gender marker on their passports.   Soni has a new passport with the ‘T’ designation she received on April 17, but when she applied for her US visa, the forms only have binary gender options, so she chose female.

When Soni attended her May 5 visa interview at the US consulate in Kolkota, her visa was neither approved or denied, but was told her application was put on hold because they didn’t have information about the ‘T’ designation, and could only consider the M (male) or F (female) options.

Soni said to the Times of India in an interview, “When the Indian government recognizes us as the third gender, why is the US government so indecisive about it? 

Soni is looking forward to coming to Philadelphia for the PTHC, and expeditiously approved.  Soni said, “it’s a great opportunity and I hope I don’t miss it out due to my sex”.

I and the PTHC organizing team hope you don’t miss out on it either, because it would also be a travesty if you couldn’t be there to talk about your experiences in India because of a denied visa application.

TransGriot Update:  Soni’s visitors visa was granted Thursday after her application was held for two days, so PTHC peeps, you will see her speak on June 5.

Scroll to Top