Silicone use in Nepali transgender women: The hazards of beauty
Journal: Journal of Health Research
Publisher: Chulalongkorn University
Purpose: It is widely believed that transgender individuals in Nepal inject silicone for face and body manipulation, a phenomenon thought to be common among transgender individuals globally. Therefore, this qualitative study conducted in Nepal explored: a) awareness of silicone use and sources of information; b) reasons for using silicone; c) notion of cost and quality of these procedures; d) reported negative aspects, including side effects; and, e) health seeking behaviours of Nepali transgender women. Design/methodology/approach: We carried out eight focus group discussions (FGDs) with transgender women at four different districts of Nepal, five in the capital Kathmandu and three in different rural areas. We also interviewed three transgender women who preferred not to participate in the FGD but were happy to be interviewed separately. Similarly, six interviews with stakeholders working for sexual and gender minority populations were also conducted. Findings: Most FGD participants were young (mean age 23.06±3.9 years) and the majority (55%; n=34) completed grade six to high school level. Peer networks of transgender people and the internet were the more popular sources of information about silicone. The decision to use silicone was largely influenced by the desire to look beautiful and more feminine. Often they appear not to follow the recommended procedures for silicone use. Their health seeking behaviour regarding side effects or complications of these procedures was very poor. Originality/value: Findings reflect that targeted interventions aimed at transgender individuals should educate them on the use of silicone, as well as explore safe and affordable approaches to meet gender-related appearance needs of Nepali transgender people.