On November 19th, as Trinidad and Tobago once again takes a leading role in commemorating International Men’s Day, we at the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago are joining in to honor the occasion and shine a light on the importance of men’s health and wellness.
Our Association will offer free HIV and STI tests for all at FPATT’s De Living Room, conveniently located at 141-144 Oxford Street, Port of Spain. In recognition of International Men’s Day, we will simultaneously highlight the male focused services that are available at our clinics.
This is but a small step for us at the Family Planning Association, and we are inviting other members of public, private, and civic society to join in and add momentum to the effort to recognize and uplift men and boys in our country.
Men are human beings, they are emotional beings, not monoliths. They are not mountains. It is important for us as a society to openly recognize that and move away from the stereotypical portrayal of men which lead to unrealistic expectations and place an undue and unfair burden upon the shoulders of our fathers, brothers and sons in terms of how we expect them to present.
Over the years, we have grown accustomed to the portrayal of men as stoic and strong, a portrayal which can and has become an impediment for many as men and boys are not afforded the room to freely and openly express vulnerability, – which is a strength in its own right – to demonstrate sensitivity and to openly show emotion without being chastised or ridiculed. This is evidenced in our vocabulary when we ask male counterparts to be men, or we ridicule and stifle any display of emotions because men and boys are not expected to show what we perceive as weakness of any sort. In so doing, culturally, we have effectively removed men’s outlets to express emotional or physical pain.
As a result, men are often less likely to access health and wellness services, and often procrastinate in setting and keeping appointments for checkups and tests. Additionally, because men are taught to stifle emotions, over time this can lead to high pressure situations where emotions can explode or manifest in extremely unhealthy ways. This must stop if we are to build a healthy and progressive society.
At the Family Planning Association, we are redefining what it means to be courageous. For us, courage is shown when men and women own their humanity, access healthcare services regularly, carve spaces for themselves where they can be comfortable presenting as themselves, seek counselling for mental health support, and claim their place in society as equal partners.
So, today, as we commemorate International Men’s Day, we issue a call to all men to contact us at the Family Planning Association, book an appointment, and learn about your sexual and reproductive health and rights. Among the male-focused-services we offer are vasectomies, circumcisions, prostate specific antigen tests, testicular ultrasounds, and counselling. Your health is your right, exercising this right is a true demonstration of courage.
November 19th 2021