South Africa has unveiled the country’s first transgender healthcare facility in Johannesburg. 

OkayAfrica reports that the first-of-its-kind space will be housed at the University of the Witwatersrand and will aim to establish a safe space and healthcare access for transgender South Africans.

LGBTQ rights activists say The Wits Reproductive Health Institute helps to dispel stigmas and prejudices throughout the country, particularly from a top-down approach. 

“When I go there [public healthcare facility] asking for treatment, some start gossiping, laughing at you and the way you are that this person is gay,” Tiny Williams, a South African transgender woman told eNCA. 

Now that the Wits clinic is open, Williams said she receives less judgment when receiving medical care. 

“Within five minutes I am done with everything and there is no criticism about the way I am,” she said. 

The flagship clinic operates with three other locations in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces, thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding to improve healthcare access for marginalized communities in South Africa. 

According to the Wits Reproductive Health Institute, 49% of transgender women are at risk of contracting HIV compared to any other population group in the world. 

Amongst its national counterparts, South Africa has led the charge in recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ community. In 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. To date, it is still the only African country to allow same-sex marriage.